These days, it's not difficult to find believers in the power of custom events.
Last month, International Data Group's World Expo, producer of the Macworld and LinuxWorld trade shows, announced the launch of a custom events unit.
The IDG World Expo Custom Events Group offers b-to-b marketers turnkey events that include content development, audience acquisition, panel recruitment and logistics.
"Frankly, it's a product of demand," said David Korse, IDG World Expo's president. "More and more of our current clients who are a part of Macworld and LinuxWorld are also doing custom events either on their own or partnering with others."
IDG World Expo named Mike Healy group VP for the custom events unit. He has experience producing events for Forrester Research and Ziff Davis Media as well as IDG. Korse said the group was already in talks with potential customers to produce seven or eight events.
"One trend we see is that IT companies, on average, are increasing their allocation of marketing dollars for events-and even more so for their own onsite events," said Michael Gerard, research director for IDC's CMO Advisory Service, which is a unit of IDG.
Numerous media companies, IDG among them, have responded to this demand as b-to-b marketers, in this age of the Internet and ROI, strive for more targeted forms of marketing that yield higher-value leads. "You've got to be market driven and platform agnostic," Jeff Dearth, partner at media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said of business media companies. You have to reach markets online, in print and in person. Custom events are the in-person piece of that."
Penton Media, particularly in its Windows IT Pro custom media group, has been very aggressive in producing custom events, including "Roadshows" for Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. The Roadshows, which feature third-party research and speakers as well as presentations from sponsor companies, have attracted about 300 registrants in cities around the nation.
Last month, SQL Server, a sibling publication of Windows IT Pro, produced its first Roadshow in Europe. SQL Server Day, which took place in Brussels and was sponsored by Microsoft Belgium & Luxembourg, HP and Intel Corp., attracted 1,006 participants from 20 countries for a day of highly technical presentations.
Michele Crockett, associate publisher of SQL Server, called the event a success. "It's huge," she said.
More important, Stefan Lamberigts, Microsoft Belgium & Luxembourg's product and solutions manager, professed his satisfaction with the event. "Based on the number of registrants and attendees, it's clear the formula of a Roadshow is successful," he said.