The marketeer’s toolbox is bursting at the seams, with seemingly endless new ways of communicating, each providing the answer.

However, with customers – B2B and B2C – exposed to so many messages on daily basis it can seem an impossible task to find the right blend of tactics that don’t lead to snow blindness from communication overload. Therefore, it’s vital that we look at all the tools we have available, and not just the shiny new ones at the top of the pile, when creating the right communications programmes. The key is creating the right blend that fits the need and not falling into the trap of shoehorning campaigns to fit the latest trends.

I recently caught up with some old colleagues as they were putting the finishing touches to their annual Conference & Expo event. As well as being a trip down memory lane, the sneak preview I was given was a reminder that businesses should never forget the need to get face-to-face with their customers.

In a digital world, where data is driving so much of what we do, and how and when we communicate with our customers, it’s easy to forget some of the more ‘traditional’ communication tactics. Like holding an event to bring your customers and likeminded people or businesses together – creating the opportunity to build existing relationships and make new ones.

This event brought together hundreds of suppliers and thousands of retailers to interact and engage with each other. Yes, there was an update on the latest products and services, but equally as important was the opportunity to bring people together to share experiences and, all being well, leave with new insights that will help them develop their respective businesses.

Now this event was big budget but they don’t have to be. Call them what you will – targeted, tailored, bespoke, exclusive – but smaller events can deliver just a big an impact. In fact, so long as you’ve got the right people in the room the size isn’t the crucial factor.

Take our client EY as an example. Known for working with large corporate businesses they wanted to connect with fast growth companies in the digital and tech sectors. 100 people were brought together in one day across three locations to discuss how the North could maximise the opportunities presented by the tech-revolution. This wasn’t an event to speak to the masses or overtly ‘sell’ EY and its services. It was the chance to bring large and small businesses together to discuss and engage on key topics, with EY connecting the experts. This was about sharing knowledge, not broadcasting. Adding value to all attendees, not just to the host.

Events should not be standalone siloed activities attempting to hit all objectives in one go. They must be part of a wider integrated communications programme.

Our team recently worked with Manifesto Growth Architects to deliver an event to get the business in front of the C-suite of large organisations and support its new business drive. The event was used to launch an authoritative industry report on the concept of Membership Economics, bringing together qualitative data on UK industry perceptions and in-depth interviews with leading executives from global brands including Sky, The Times and Dollar Shave Club.

Launching it at an event presented a much wider opportunity than just getting the report into the audience’s hands, it enabled Manifesto to deliver key messages first hand, for discussion and debate on the report’s findings, and to look at its future growth opportunities.

Bringing these senior people together at the event also reinforced their expert position, demonstrating to the media in attendance that they are the respected voice on this subject, enabling strong media coverage to be delivered on the back of it. And beyond the positive exposure, the event was a commercial success with more than 25 new business meetings in diary as a direct result.

Practicing what we preach, a highlight in our own calendar is our annual ‘Retox’ event. Marking the end of ‘Dry January’, the event brings together clients, partners, suppliers and friends for a relaxed evening of food, drink and conversation; a chance to make new connections and to catch up with ‘old’ ones.

Events might not be the new kid on the block. Not the latest cool thing. But done correctly, as part of a wider campaign, and with key objectives, they are extremely effective at reaching key audiences and generating the all important engagement we’re all craving.

Simon Brown, Account Director