Recently, Frost & Sullivan, The Growth Partnership Company,™ conducted a timely webinar, Marketing in 2021: Uncertainty or Opportunity? Adam Kahn, Global Senior Director, Digital Strategy and Marketing Operations, hosted a diverse group of global marketing experts as they discussed what was working — and not working — right now, as well as the marketing disruption that is currently occurring. All agreed that 2021 would be a year of opportunity for marketing, and shared predictions and insights about how to succeed during these challenging times.

The event was divided into three rapid fire discussion sessions on the topics of Events, Budgeting and Expectations for 2021. In this blog, we are going to focus on what the experts had to say about events:


Not surprisingly, the marketers believed that virtual events are here to stay. Beyond the necessity of leveraging them in the current climate, there are inherent advantages and conveniences that come with virtual events, which will likely make them a mainstay moving forward. The panelists predicted a gradual return to in-person events based on geography and recovery from the pandemic. They also discussed a new, emerging hybrid event model, and the importance of smaller more targeted events.

Key takeaways included:

  • Virtual events are here to stay regardless of other circumstances
  • 75% of marketers surveyed during the webinar were planning on sponsoring virtual events in 2021
  • Achieving ROI or “ROE”— Return on Events — was emphasized:

    • It’s important to determine beforehand what your event goals are, and how you will measure success
    • Keep pipeline acceleration top of mind
  • Planning smaller, more targeted events was recommended
  • Schedule one-on-one time with key decision makers
    • Educate your prospects and share relevant thought leadership
  • A new hybrid events model, consisting of some virtual and some in-person events, was predicted
    • What these hybrid events will be composed of will vary globally
    • Companies based in Asia and Europe will likely return to live events before the US
  • Sponsorship of in-person events in 2021 will be heavily influenced by geography


Several of the panelists stated that they would consider creating an event that was a combination of virtual and in-person. These hybrid events will bring new challenges, so plan for the following:

  • Content differentiation — type, length and presentation — for a virtual event, versus an in-person event experience
  • New, more advanced platforms and production values will be needed to accommodate combination events, and to “put on the best show possible”
  • It might seem counter intuitive to charge for events but it’s really a positive
    • If you are offering valuable content, it can help participants bring growth and value to their own companies
    • “If you pay, you are more likely to show up and engage”
  • Look to the entertainment and sports industries as resources for creating dynamic and engaging events – and for better participant engagement too
    • Entice participants with “golden nuggets” of information and entertainment, especially at virtual events

Current marketing tactics for ROI with prospects and clients?

  • A virtual events CXO platform
  • Webinar with partners
  • Virtual events, ABM tactics, direct mail
  • Virtual events and webinars (targeted to peeps seeking relevant info and content)
  • Thought leadership content focused on work from home security
  • Exceptional content marketing
  • Executive peer to peer virtual events

It may take some fearless testing and “leaps of content” to achieve the event outcome you’re seeking, but now is the time to experiment. Ultimately, determining the best combination of event options for your organization will lead to a better “return on events” and a better bottom line, too.

For additional insights, click here to download our “Future of Event Marketing” Infographic.