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Why Live Events Are Rocket Fuel for Business Growth The power of face-to-face marketing can't be supplanted by digital tricks and tactics.

By John Boitnott

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Each year most of the world's largest organizations host annual conferences. Dreamforce, WWDC, F8 and similar gatherings have become cornerstone events that excite brand loyalists, capture headlines and launch new products.

It's no coincidence that Salesforce Apple, and Facebook invest serious time and money to create these large-scale events. Brands use live events because they are an excellent channel through which marketers can achieve their annual goals. Chief marketing officers at leading companies realize that the power of face-to-face marketing can't be supplanted by digital tricks and tactics. In fact, millennials (the largest cohort in the American workforce) have a history of valuing experiences of things.

Live events may just be the single best channel to fuel your business growth. Here I'll explain why that may be and how you can take advantage of events to generate more customers.

Related: Are You Ready to Host a User Conference? 5 Ways to Tell the Time Is Right.

Younger people prefer live experiences.

Spending on experiences and live events has increased roughly 70 percent since 1987, according to a report by the Harris Group. The increase is at least somewhat attributable to younger generations, who enjoy spending their dough on live events, travel and other experiences that can be shared on social media.

Brands know that younger people, who often feel isolated despite being more connected than ever before, prefer live events. Events give like-minded people the opportunity to form more meaningful connections, with ample opportunity to share their experience on social media.

Rather than rely solely on digital channels, B2C and B2B brands are now spending a significant amount on live events. Market research firm Frost and Sullivan found that the average B2B CMO spends the plurality of her budget on live events.

Related: This Entrepreneur Maxed His Credit Card to Attend His Industry's Biggest Trade Show. It Was Money Well Spent.

Marketers claim events are the most effective marketing channel.

A survey of marketers conducted by Bizzabo found that most respondents said live events were the most effective marketing channel to drive key business objectives. Interviewees actually ranked live events as more effective than digital advertising, content marketing or email marketing.

Many of the best marketers use trade shows, user conferences, networking events, roadshows and similar events to generate leads, get closer to customers and earn media attention. While other channels can move the needle on these objectives, live events do so meaningfully and sooner. Many marketers are investing serious money in live events because they increase engagement quickly and reliably.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Noticed at a Crowded Trade Show

Events are more measurable than ever before.

In the past, events were a black box for most marketers. It was challenging to measure event attendance, let alone calculate event ROI. Today, event management platforms can measure many metrics of a successful event in real time. Even better, some platforms can integrate tools to attribute live event performance to revenue, customer retention or press mentions.

Marketers who are just starting out can access powerful event planning tools capable of measuring event performance. Eventbrite, which is free to use for free events, is a good option for those just starting out. There are also many alternatives for readers planning more sophisticated events. These platforms make it easier for small-business owners to organize and measure a successful event by integrating with services like Google Analytics, Hubspot and Salesforce.

Related: 7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Exhibiting at a Trade Show

The world's best brands are vying to develop unforgettable events.

Dreamforce is a 100,000-person extravaganza in San Francisco that celebrates innovation, marketing and sales. Each year Salesforce invests tens of millions of dollars to organize this brand-defining marketing initiative. WeWork, the $21 billion co-working space turned tech company, hosts Summer Camp. The weekend-long music festival and employee retreat is made to feel like a utopian tech paradise.

Just as Salesforce and WeWork use live events to define their company values, bring employees together and connect with their target audience, entrepreneurs can use smaller live events to make a splash, too. Hosting a memorable launch party that draws industry influencers, reporters and potential hires is an effective way to kickstart your next project.

Related: Who, What, Where and Wine Are the 4 Keys to a Great Launch Party

Live events are here to stay.

In a world where our use of digital modalities is bordering on dependency, live events provide brands with an opportunity to break free from the noisy online world to connect more meaningfully with attendees. On the attendee side, live events present a unique environment for meeting new people, honing their business skills and sharing #FOMO-worthy experiences on social media.

For entrepreneurs and small-business leaders, live events are here to stay. Consider hosting your own small-but-exciting event to establish your brand, build customer relationships and make inroads with members of the media.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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