Future of Work

Not Everything Is Digital: Live Events and ROI

Bob Marsh

It’s all too easy to focus your branding efforts on digital marketing, but live events still provide significant ROI. C-suite members must actively participate in live events to build important relationships that can’t be achieved via digital means with customers, investors, and stakeholders. Here are some important factors to consider when planning in-person events to gain true ROI. 

Two issues need to be examined when thinking about doing live events. The first is whether live events generate strong ROI. The short answer is yes, they certainly can (we’ll dive more into that later). The second issue revolves around why it is important for CEOs and other C-suite executives to understand the value of live events to promote their brands.

These days, it can feel easy to dive into digital marketing and focus all your attention there, but there is so much value to be gained from live events. A whopping 95% of marketers believe that in-person events significantly impact business goals.

That means C-suite members, especially CEOs, should not only be interested in live events, but should also actively participate in them. These events could range from big to small — from a dinner to a trade show — but however you choose to participate, your involvement is crucial for your company. It is at these live events where you will meet investors and customers alike, and both want to meet the face of the company.

The Benefits of Live Brand Events

Digital marketing has given us the ability to create personalized marketing campaigns that are more targeted than anything we’ve ever been able to do before. Through targeted campaigns and omnichannel strategies, customers have come to expect a level of personalization, and it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever go back.

However, there’s something to be said for a handshake. There’s something to be said about hearing the vision of a company right from the source. As a C-suite member, you hold the company’s vision in your hands. You are closer to the goals and ideals of your company than anyone else.

Live events work in your favor in big ways. For starters, people are drawn to success — it’s not every day that people get access to CEOs. They are drawn to ideas. It’s not purely anecdotal to think that potential investors or customers might be positively impacted by meeting the person or persons behind the company’s ideas.

These events also allow you to build relationships in ways you never could through digital marketing. Person-to-person connections are so vital. You can talk about your success stories, your failures, the hard times, and the good times in a more personal context with individuals. By building these relationships, you allow people to feel like they are part of your journey.

Showing the ROI of Live Events

The human element of live events is the big draw, but how much ROI should you expect from live events to be worth it? This will depend on your budget, but anything between 3-to-1 and 5-to-1 would be considered a successful ROI, with 10-to-1 being exceptional. A 2-to-1 return is regarded as a loss.

This is on par with other forms of marketing, give or take a little. Social media and email marketing campaigns typically pull in the biggest ROI. However, 31% of marketers have said that live events are their most effective marketing channel. Additionally, 87% of executives admitted that live events are effective and planned on investing more in them.

What to Consider When Hosting In-Person Events

You want to consider a few things before setting up a live event. Obviously, there are all sorts of types of live events, but before you get into event planning, you really want to focus on some fundamental questions:

  1. Why host the event in the first place?
    You’re planning an in-person event to build relationships with investors and customers. But it needs to be done in a way that they, too, find enjoyment and satisfaction in attending the event. Do you know for a fact that your customers, or potential customers, would want to participate in an event that you host? Is there a new product launch that you can focus the event on? Starting out with the why and building from there will lead to more success and ensure that customers have a great time at the event.
  2. Does the event cost money?
    This is probably one of the more important factors to consider. If you throw an event that costs money, it will need to be an impressive production. Of course, you will have extra money to put into the event by charging a fee for attendees. You want the attendees to be able to justify the expense by providing an engaging, productive, and fun event.
  3. What’s the goal of the event?
    Some events are for customers, some for investors, some for employees, and some for suppliers. But you want to get something out of each and every one of them. Employee events should drive a sense of unity. Supplier and investor events should showcase your vision, allowing attendees to get on the same page so that you can ultimately reach your goal. Customer events are opportunities to grow your customer base and to get people excited about your products.

    At the end of the day, these factors work in tandem to help you determine how big your budget is for live events. And the more you plan live events, the more you will know what to expect from them.

It is as essential now as it ever has been to make room in your budget for live events. Even in the age of digital marketing and targeted ad campaigns, nothing beats the person-to-person experience. Customers will be excited to see the face of the company and will think of your brand in higher regard.


Written by Bob Marsh.
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Bob Marsh
Bob Marsh is the chief revenue officer at Bluewater, a design-forward technology company that helps craft moments that connect and inspire. Bluewater works with top brands like Walmart, Ford, and Rocket Mortgage.


Bob Marsh is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.