B2B event cheat sheet – Everything you need to know

February, 2019

Organising an event isn’t a walk in the park – honestly, just deciding what kind of event to host is stressful: do you host a trade show, an expo, a summit or a conference? From there the stress just gets worse. What food? What venue? How to market it? AHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I can’t help you choose the food or venue, but I can help you choose the right event for your objectives.



“if you’re holding an event for electricians, don’t expect them to show up in a tuxedo”




B2B event cheat sheet

Before you decide on what event to host, you need to understand the dynamics of each type of event. Important note: Event organisers and producers often don’t use the correct label for their event or don’t follow the traditional “rules” for each type of event.
So take this as a guideline only and tailor your event to your target audience (i.e. if you’re holding an event for electricians, don’t expect them to show up in a tuxedo).




In essence, conferences are formal meetings where talks about ideas or challenges on a particular topic take place. This means that it has a professional feel, from content to dress code and everything in-between.
The dress code is typically formal, so expect to see suits and ties everywhere. If you rock up to a conference in shorts and a t-shirt, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. I made that mistake many, many years ago, and trust me, it’s a lesson I’ll remember forever.
Do not, I repeat, do not speak about your business. Conferences are not the place to do this. The focus of a conference is on a larger problem or issue that exists in a particular industry. An aspect of conferences that sets it apart from other types of events is that they have speakers, not necessarily discussion. If you’re organizing a conference make sure that there’s enough space for attendees to take notes. There’s nothing worse than letting them take notes on their laps. A Conferences is the perfect opportunity for your attendees to learn from industry leaders and influencers.
If you have an issue that is pressing in a particular industry, a conference is the best event for you to host. It checks all the boxes.




Want to host an event that includes networking, sharing, and innovation? Then hosting an expo is the perfect choice. Unlike conferences that are all work and no play, expos are a blend between the social aspect of trade shows and the professionalism of the conference. The great thing about expos is that attendees can meet other business owners and decision makers in their industries. This type of event also gives visitors the opportunity to improve their own skills.


Trade show

Trade Shows

A trade show is organised so that companies within a particular industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, and test the newest market trends. If you want to hold an event that lets businesses sell their goods or services, then opt for a trade show. Not only will it give businesses a platform to showcase their products to potential customers but they can also get a sneak peek at what the competition is working on.




A summit is typically the most formal of the event types listed here – and it’s not just to be extra. They’re formal because of the exclusive attendees involved: Heads of states, governments, and businesses meet at summits to discuss worldwide issues, make deals, or do business. A summit usually has tight security and mass media coverage – that’s why attendees dress well, to look good on camera.
The content at a summit is lined up by the agenda which is sent out before the event begins to allow the attendees to prepare. A summit must be well organised and efficient – your attendees are taking time out of their busy schedule to attend so don’t waste their time unnecessarily.



So what type of event are you putting on?


All of these types of events have their place in the B2B community and events often blur the lines between them for their own purposes. There is no right or wrong way to put on an event, so long as you tailor it to the audience you want to attract and market it properly.
Need help getting registrations for your next event?
Chat to The Social Effect.

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Eric Louw
Eric Louw

Eric Louw


Some people are just destined to market B2B events. Eric is one of those people. It’s not because he’s passionate about B2B events (that’s a given), it’s because he’s passionate about helping B2B event organisers maximise their marketing budget with digital marketing tactics.

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