Pre-COVID, many B2B SaaS companies took a FOMO approach to conferences.
They attended and sponsored to avoid being outflanked by rivals.The last thing they wanted to see was to miss out on a prospect.
It was even though most conferences didn’t generate an ROI.If companies did the math, they would discover the 80-20 rule; most prospects likely came from a small handful of conferences.
Of course, this didn’t work for conference organizers who lavished “awards” (aka pay-per-play) on companies that sponsored events.The companies would then leverage these “best in show” awards for marketing and sales activities. It was a “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours” proposition.
Today, the conference has dramatically changed.Big events have yet to come back, and many companies are taking a more disciplined approach to sponsorship.It is interesting to see the emergence of smaller, more intimate, focused events that feature good speakers and networking opportunities.
They provide companies and prospects with better ways to learn and make connections. There’s less dazzle and more substance.Lead generation ROI is at the forefront of companies' minds, so conference organizers need to be creative and deliver more value (and not just more awards!).
According to Andrew Arocha, chief revenue officer with Drift, small events like dinners and roundtables have proven successful.This could be the new conference model, and we'll look back nostalgically at mega-events.