Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

Four Event Marketing Predictions for 2012

by   |    |  12,825 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Which technologies and tactics will emerge for event marketing in 2012
  • How event marketers can boost tradeshow success using new trends

Tablets. Social mediaQR codes. Hybrid events. All of those have redefined tradeshow and event marketing in 2011, so what will 2012 bring? How can marketers embrace the latest trends to make their events more exciting and engaging?

Here are my four event-marketing predictions for 2012.

1. The use of RFID and social-enabled sharing will increase

Because of smartphones, photo-sharing and location check-ins are no-brainers. And marketers, as well as tradeshow and event attendees, have been using smartphones to share their event experiences via Facebook photo albums, TwitPic, Flickr, and so on.

But 2012 could well bring automatic social-enabled sharing thanks to radio frequency identification (RFID). The Ushuaia Beach Hotel in Ibiza, Spain, and Great Wolf Lodge in the US began pilot RFID programs that automatically share guests' photos and activity on Facebook. With RFID, no computers or smartphones are needed to make social updates (especially beneficial when you're hanging by a pool!).

Hotel guests set up a RFID wristband at check-in and connect it to their Facebook profile. When they swipe their wristbands at special check-in locations, a photo or other content automatically posts to their Facebook page.

As RFID costs continue to decrease and its availability widens, the event-marketing possibilities for RFID social-enabled sharing greatly increases. For example, companies could use an RFID-enabled strategy to set up a photo-sharing station for event attendees to automatically post pics of themselves with an industry expert or celebrity.

Or, attendees could be rewarded for multiple RFID demo-station visits, with fun product facts being posted to Facebook at each check-in. A show organizer could create an RFID show-floor tour that would guide attendees to booths introducing new products. That strategy would increase attendee engagement and stretch the event experience to guests' social networks—greatly increasing visibility for a company and its offerings.

2. New video marketing opportunities will emerge

The power of video continues to generate big headlines. According to a ComScore report, nearly 200 million users watched online video content in August 2011. That month, viewers watched video for an average of 18 hours per person, and US Internet audiences engaged in 6.9 billion video viewing sessions.

Though tradeshow and event marketers have begun embracing the power of online video, 2012 will offer them new opportunities. Go beyond the best-practice of using an event to generate video content, such as vlogs, customer testimonials, product demonstrations, or expert interviews.

Consider using live video streaming to extend your event's reach and bring your story to life for a larger audience. For example, a keynote session could be broadcast to your event-specific microsite, allowing nonattendees to hear trends or an executive's high-level vision. Or, remote product experts could be brought into booth panel discussions via video, saving travel costs and limiting time away from the office.

3. Event marketers will have more ways to go mobile

More than five billion (yes, billion) people worldwide are mobile users—meaning more than three-quarters of the planet is mobile! Mobile app downloads are projected to reach 98 billion by 2015!

2012 will bring more ways for marketers to extend their event programs to those on the go.

Though SMS/MMS campaigns have been used to deliver event text updates or promote special events, show organizers will start embracing more robust event mobile apps. In 2011, Sundance Film Festival organizers developed an event app that allowed users to subscribe to email updates, tell friends about the app with pre-filled messages, and make Gowalla (a location-based service) check-ins.

Beyond being environmentally friendly and serving as a potential additional revenue stream, mobile event apps can create a better attendee experience. Real-time conference information, enhanced on-site networking, surveys and polling, and better measurement could mean big payoffs. But beware of the potential need to make enough bandwidth available; no sense in trying to boost the attendee experience if guests can't enjoy the features!

4. Cause-related marketing activity will rise

In recent years, companies have been increasing initiatives around social and charitable causes. Some even have foundations dedicated to philanthropic causes related to their products and solutions. Ben & Jerry's has long been committed to Fair Trade and was the first company to use Fair Trade ingredients in its ice cream.

As shows and industries limit or suspend giveaways, marketers will incorporate more cause-related marketing activities within their events in the upcoming year. Cause-related marketing is ripe for PR and buzz, and doing good in the world builds brand goodwill. Rather than investing in giveaways with limited post-show life, including a cause-related initiative at your show will allow attendees to feel part of something meaningful.

Creating a cause-related activity doesn't have to cost a lot of money, and it can be very simple. For example, you could ask attendees to view one or more demos in your booth to support a charitable gift. Or, you could use a booth photo activity to create a living "charity wall," with every photo taken resulting in a donation. Event attendees, for example, could collaborate in building playground equipment or a bench for a local school.

* * *

Do you think we'll see more of those technologies and tactics next? Or is there another big trend coming in 2012?

(Image courtesy of Bigstock, Predicting the Future.)

Join over 600,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Don't worry ... it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:


Kristin Veach is chief communications and growth strategist at experiential marketing agency Live Marketing, where she is responsible for driving results using online strategies for live events.

LinkedIn: Kristin Veach

Twitter: @Kristin_Veach

Rate this  

Overall rating

  • Not rated yet.

Add a Comment


  • by Ryan Frederick Mon Dec 12, 2011 via web

    I would add gamification. Events need to be more interactive and fun.

  • by HCG corporate designs Mon Dec 12, 2011 via web

    2012 will definitely be a very interesting year in terms of mobile technology and how it's being used to get a product/service (or in this case stated above an event) closer to the customer and his/her memory. I have recently attended a great event in Spain organised by Nissan and they had an event app too that was leading through the whole event which was absolutely fantastic. However, there were zero posters or anything where people could see the agenda of the event without using their mobile devices. And this was very annoying. So despite all the technologies we meanwhile have we must not forget about the simple things people are used to. I think the combination of both makes it!

  • by Kristin Veach Mon Dec 12, 2011 via web

    Ryan, I agree gamification will also play a bigger role next year. The competition and interactivity that video games provide can also easily be applied to events as ways to get attendees more engaged and active.

  • by Kristin Veach Mon Dec 12, 2011 via web

    Helene, you're absolutely right about being careful with technology--it alone doesn't lead to a better experience or stronger results. From my perspective, technology works best when it is integrated from start to finish, and the focus is on using technology to enhance the event.

  • by Julie O'Grady Tue Dec 13, 2011 via web

    I think the challenge for event marketers is to make sure they are covering all the channels. Event marketers need to re-think their traditional campaign execution. As they design campaigns, ideally you want to be able to re-use interactive campaign components across channels - from inside email to social, website to display, re-targeting and mobile for a cohesive integrated approach.

  • by Kristin Veach Tue Dec 13, 2011 via web

    Good point Julie. Obviously today's economic environment means event marketers are smart about how and where they invest their dollars. But it also makes sense to leverage as much as possible across multiple channels to present an integrated story and reach as many people as possible. Plus, an event or tradeshow can be extended beyond it's traditional time and space so it's no longer a one-off, but a year-long conversation.

  • by Julie O'Grady Wed Dec 14, 2011 via web

    Kristin, you should check out's multichannel marketing platform. Kwanzoo's platform allows marketers to build campaigns with their rich media units (smart polls, surveys, social promotions, and opt-in lead forms) and run them everywhere across all channels. And you don't have to go through IT to get your campaign up and running. You can do even do A/B testing and modifications on the fly.

    Online Media Summit uses Kwanzoo for their Tell-a-Friend promotions and campaigns. It's something that event marketers should check out.

  • by Eitan Mon Dec 19, 2011 via web

    Social-enable sharing is definitely a powerful way to enhance audience engagement. In addition to RFID you might want to check a new product developed by a start up company called Pic2go - using special QR codes technology.

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!