International business strategist, co-founder of Wunderguard and dmexco
Until this year, classic in-person events were part of B2B marketing and took place several times a year. However, that has changed in 2020: digital alternatives have become part of everyday life. In the first part of our interview on the future of B2B events, Christian Muche, the international business strategist and co-founder of the dmexco, describes why these digital formats can be an alternative or supplement the ‘old’ classic trade fairs. In the second part of the interview you will discover how B2B events are viewed internationally and what significance they have in the overall marketing mix.
Do you see differences in the development of B2B events across different countries? For example, do certain event formats work better in Germany than in New Zealand – where you are currently located? If so, which ones?
Well I would not necessarily want to use little New Zealand as an analogue country. Although I have been living there for 13 years privately, I spend at least as much time travelling to Germany, and other parts of Europe as well as, America and Asia. For example, my time in China showed me that companies there make quicker decisions in terms of whether an event or communication platform would be relevant and useful in their strategy. The pace in China is breathtaking and I wouldn’t need to wait until next year to visit a Chinese company to get involved. If you are convinced of an event idea in China, you expect it to be implemented within a few months. On the other hand, however, there is the example of Japan and its culture, which is very much characterised by personal contact, demonstrating that, despite it being a technology-oriented society, a new digital business approach would never be fully successful there.
Are there B2B marketing trends that have not yet arrived in Germany?
I would not go so far as to say that general trends have not yet arrived in Germany. After all, we are not a developing country! Nevertheless, at this point I would like to talk about cultural differences and political framework conditions that certainly lead to different use of technological trends. These include the more intensive use of chat bots and messaging apps in business and, of course, the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) for a more individual customer experience. Additionally, the personalisation possibilities based on Big Data are far from exhausted. I also find the sceptical attitude towards the use of Influencer Marketing more pronounced in Germany than in other regions of the world.
You recently gave a presentation on the “Future of B2B Events” at an event in Tokyo. What does the future look like for you?
We are increasingly spending our lives online. Companies are already reinventing every facet of their digital ecosystems – from sales and transactions to marketing and customer service – due to a large proportion of customer decisions being made online already. Even if we recover from the lifestyle changes brought about by COVID-19, we are unlikely to return to old business methods. We will have redefined work, decision-making and purchasing processes – almost all of which will be significantly more digital based.
Christian Muche is an international business strategist who works at the interface of the digital, marketing, technology and event industries. As a co-founder of WUNDERGUARD, he creates successful brands and, as co-founder and the brains behind DMEXCO, he and his team managed the daily business of the leading global event platform for digital marketing for 10 years. In 2019, Christian launched Christian D:PULSE – the innovative, boutique and global conference fair. Privately, he has lived in New Zealand with his family for more than 13 years and enjoys various outdoor sports including mountain biking, trekking and diving.
How regularly and in what form we meet “personally” in the future will undergo a dramatic transformation. Will companies return to the traditional model of a conference or trade fair with tens of thousands of people after months (or possibly years) of absence from these events due to the pandemic?
There are many doubts due to the “good old times” even being talked about by event organisers themselves. This development does not necessarily mean the end of in-person events as we know it, but our way of thinking, attitude and expectations are already changing. In the future, decision makers within companies will be far more strict in their selection of events and will likely have to reduce the number of event participants. Even the supra-regional and international major events that were so hyped in the past will have to accept losses, not least due to a long-term change in travel policy between countries but also within companies. The example of the International Motor Show, IAA and its reorientation to a complete mobility platform for B2B and B2C highlights the urgent need to address the change in mindset of the economy and society. Only those who implement this transformation early and with full digital consistency will have a chance at surviving the upcoming selection process of exhibitors, sponsors and participants in the long term.
Mr. Muche, thank you very much for the interesting interview!
Interested in the first part of the interview?…
Virtual and hybrid event formats have become much more important and better developed due to the corona lockdown. How does Christian Muche see this development? What significance will webinars and digital events have in the future? And: How important are events in the overall B2B marketing mix? Christian Muche answers these 3 questions in the first part of our interview. Read more…