Decoding B2B Event Evolution: A Conversation with Ashley Mauras, Jason Widup, and Nick Bennett

Ever wondered how the landscape of B2B events has evolved and what it means for event marketers? Dive into this insightful conversation between Nick Bennett, CCO and Co-founder of Tack, Jason Widup, Founder, Peak B2B and Ashley Mauras, Director of Experience Marketing, Quantum Metric

Episode Highlights

How are B2B events pivoting to an attendee-centric approach?
Time: The new currency in event planning and execution
The hidden ROI of events: Beyond numbers and into relationships

Nick: What changes have you observed in attendee expectations and behaviors?

Ashley: More recently, I think over the last couple years, the biggest trend that I've noticed is that the attendees, the people you're targeting are so protective of their time that you have to be delivering experiences that really make them either wanna give up their personal time or I don't know about you guys, but I have so many meetings on my calendar for the day. So for need to clear like any of my work time, even it just has to be really compelling and that's either, you know, with their content or what the actual experience is. So it's just that rising expectation and needing to like continually evolve and come up with something creative that's actually going to get people to want to give you their most precious, precious asset.

Jason: Absolutely, Jason, anything you'd add to that, you know, I don't know, 10 years ago, it seemed like all these big events, they were really focused around the company that was putting them on or the sponsors and it was kind of like we were there for there, we were, we would go there for their benefit, you know, so it was like, they get benefit and we wouldn't get a lot of benefit. We'd see some sessions where it was like, oh, we're kind of there for networking and it just didn't feel like things were centered around the attendees. And so I think one of the bigger changes is companies are realizing like, ok, this has to be a very attendee focused experience for them and the attendees should be really at the center of the event. And along with that, there are just rising expectations and so everything should really run incredibly smoothly, you know, you don't want any hiccups, especially you're just like right on site live, you know, you don't want anything like ruining the experience of the attendees or just like even throwing them off a little bit. And I think companies are recognizing that this is a way to showcase our brand. And so we really have to put our best foot forward. And so like expectations around like attendees, you want them to leave with like a really, really polished solid representation of what it's gonna be like to work with you. And so just putting more time and effort in and so like a lot of things have changed. But I think those are some of the things I'm seeing.

Ashley: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, so, so kind of what going back to what Ashley said, I feel like time. That's, you know, obviously, I sit in a lot of meetings way more than I probably care to. But time is, is a very valuable to me. I have three daughters, seven month old twins and a five year old. And so like, you know, time is really of the essence for me. And so that's probably been the biggest change that I've experienced both on the event side and as someone that attends a lot of events is like, listen, if this event isn't centered around the experience around the attendee around my valuable time and maybe it's something where if it is a virtual event, I'm listening on demand, maybe there's, there's a good chance I probably am not listening live, but there is a very high chance that I'm going to listen to the on-demand version at my own pace. And I think that goes back to kind of convenience, which I think has also changed in, in today's world, like so many marketers and just people in general really care about convenience in, in the way that they learn the way that they live, the way that they adapt their, their work life behavior. And I think that's the biggest thing is like, how do you incorporate the experience to be a convenient place for the attendee and make it about them at the end of the day as well. So just some, some things there, I'm, I'm complete agreement with you both as well.

Nick: But you know, I think, you know, Jason, you talked about some interesting stuff and I'm curious, like, why do you think it's important to understand that these changes are happening for both event? Marketers failed marketers? Like anyone that puts on events?

Jason: Well, I think so, one of the main reasons is I've seen this happen too is you can, if you make the event, let's say you over market the event and you're just like, it's gonna be the best thing. We're gonna have so many people there and it's gonna be like only CMO S and Cr Os and just directors and it's gonna be everybody that you just wish you and you don't fulfill that. What happens is like events need to be thought about as like a long term practice and you can go into it thinking one and done and just like, oh I just gotta get this one event done. I gotta get it done. You know, it's activity based. I just need to check the box and get it done. But if you're not thinking about that experience, somebody will come to it and like, OK, I'm here, I'm, I'm experiencing it. They have a really bad experience. They're not gonna tell you what's gonna happen is they're never gonna come back again. And so you've now like screwed yourself for the next year because what you want is you want that ex experience to be so good that everybody that attended this year is just a shoe in for next year. I don't have to worry about that attendee piece. and so it's just important because that experience, you may not know right in the moment that they had a bad experience, but you'll know when they don't sign up next year. And so it's just really important to get that focus down because they're not really, they may not tell you a lot of people don't even say it in like event feedback forms and surveys. They might dance around it a little bit. But you're really not gonna get that. This event sucked. I'm never gonna come back to it again, probably feedback, but you don't want that. And so really setting yourself up for multiyear increasing attendees and just increasing value.

Ashley: Well, I was, I was gonna actually ask you because you just mentioned the survey piece, but I'm, I'm curious and this is kind of just, you know, a random thought that popped into my head. Like, do you feel like because I mean, you know, demand, I, I attended demand great conference. I've actually attended both years. I'm speaking at it this year. And so did you, did you guys use like surveys to try to capture feedback post event and like, how did you use that to make the experience better?

Jason: For sure. Yes, we definitely did. It was a big component of it for us because we really want to know when we, when Mark and I Mark Huber and I first started to dream it up, it was like we want to come up with an event that we would actually want to attend. And so what would that look like if some, if it was something that we would just be like, super excited about? And so really, what we wanted to do is with demand, we wanted to just make sure that people had a great experience, but we thought they would, but we wanted to make sure. And so, yeah, we surveyed everybody. We definitely, we, we heard a lot, you know, one of the main things we heard in the first year was this is awesome, but it's all about sales and marketing technology. So it's like, yeah, and we didn't, we really didn't really think about that. And so the next year, which was last year, like, ok, can we get some and it's hard right in our circles to get outside of that sales and marketing technology. There's, there's like maybe 10% of us that are doing stuff outside of sales and marketing. The rest of us are just helping ourselves basically. And so getting out of that and bringing in people that could talk about like, what's it like to market, to manufacturing companies or what's it like to market to like non tech companies? So yeah, we heard that and we definitely put that front and center for the next year and even started months ahead, trying to source people that were in these other industries that could, you know, come and speak. And so we definitely use that kind of feedback, wholeheartedly.

Ashley: Yeah. Love that. All right. Awesome Ashley. You know, go back to you kind of, you know, that, that initial question, like, why do you think it's so important that these changes are happening for event and field marketers?

Ashley: Well, I think that with how everything's changed since the pandemic, we've also seen a really big I'd say increase in seeing the scrutiny from like our financial teams on like where we're spending money and why and we had this luxury right after the pandemic when we got back to in person events and people kind of like forgot what we're supposed to do. So you just tried anything, right? Like you got to just kind of be a kid again and get creative and just see what will get people out of their house and come spend time with me and you got to throw spaghetti at a wall, see what sticks. And now you had that that time, those couple years now, it's like, ok, well, you did all your experimenting what actually worked. So I think understanding what your attendee is exactly looking for at this point in the game is so crucial because it's gonna allow you to deliver that experience that's gonna get them there and give you that ro I, so you can continue expanding your programs or, you know

Meet the guest

Nick Bennett

Nick Bennett, CCO and Co-founder, Tack

Nick is a digital native by self-admission. He champions People-First GTM strategies in B2B and is a fervent advocate for the Creator Economy.

Meet the guest

Ashley Mauras

Director of Experience Marketing, Quantum Metric

Ashley Mauras is a seasoned experience marketing leader with eleven years of industry experience in both B2B and B2C settings.

Meet the guest

Jason Widup

Founder, Peak B2B

Jason is a seasoned Marketing and Technology leader, renowned for innovative demand gen tactics and deep MarTech expertise.

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Kishore leads Zuddl’s content marketing efforts. With over a decade of experience in the content field, Kishore’s experience ranges from content writing and editing to strategy and analytics for B2B and B2C companies.

Kishore CS, Content Lead, Zuddl
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