Should you spend your marketing budget on conferences or digital advertising?

Over the last decade, digital marketing has been rising rapidly as a new approach to reach potential clients. For companies in the life sciences and health field, social media and advertising platforms such as LinkedIn and Google are becoming important channels to reach their target audience. Since conferences have also always played an important role to reach potential clients, ambitious life sciences and health companies regularly have to assess how to strategically spend their marketing budget. In this article we discuss the question related to this matter: Should you spend your marketing budget on conferences or digital advertising?

Choosing the right strategy

In an ideal situation, your company can allocate its marketing budget to both marketing approaches. Whether it’s visiting conferences or digital advertising, both approaches are effective means to reach new clients, strengthen your company branding or create awareness for products and services. However, if you’re working for a small- to medium-sized company then a tight budget may limit your options. In that case, you’ll have to choose between spending your budget on visiting conferences or digital advertising. In order to make the right decision, it’s important to understand the impact that both marketing approaches can have on your company.

The impact of conferences

For a long time, conferences have been an important channel for industry stakeholders to come together. Conferences are a great place to strengthen your company’s presence within the field, build relationships, and share experiences with other experts. The personal interaction with other visitors makes it relatively easy to communicate with each other. In addition, conferences can help your company to showcase its products or services. Yet, finding and speaking with potential clients can be quite time-consuming during conferences. With a limited amount of time, it can be challenging to speak to everyone that is on your list. In addition, you might come across your existing clients or old colleagues who will also require your attention. Visiting conferences is therefore relatively less effective to reach new clients that you haven’t met yet. If your goal is to reach more potential clients in order to promote and sell your offering, then digital advertising is a better investment than visiting conferences.

The impact of digital advertising

Digital advertising basically helps you to promote and sell your products or services online by using effective platforms, such as LinkedIn and Google. In comparison to physical events, digital advertising allows you to reach a larger pool of potential clients anywhere in the world. This includes the people that typically visit your conference of interest. It also allows you to specify your target audience based on criteria, such as geographic location, job description, or company size. This helps you to spend your advertising budget only on the criteria that deliver the best possible results. Instead of waiting for a conference date, you can start setting up an ad on LinkedIn or Google within a day. Digital advertising is also more cost-effective. Visiting a conference requires the investment for an entrance ticket, travel, and accommodation costs. The expenses can go up to thousands of euros. With advertising, however, an effective campaign to reach your target audience starts at €200-500 per ad. Another major advantage of digital advertising is that the impact is easy to measure through data. It can provide you the key insights that are needed to make the right strategic business development decisions.

So to answer the question, should you spend your marketing budget on conferences or digital advertising?

Ideally on both, but if your goal is to reach new clients or you have a limited marketing budget, then digital advertising the most effective and cost-efficient approach.