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Funnel is now just part of the festival fun for Econsultancy

I just had an enlightening morning at Funnel, Econsultancy’s demand generation themed B2B event. Funnel is in its third year now, making it a relative veteran on the B2B marketing events circuit – the organisers certainly seem to have decided that they’ve hit on a winning formula, as there was little change in format that I could determine from last year. Still if it ain’t broke… and this event certainly is not.

More importantly, there’s also the little matter of the exuberantly titled Festival of Marketing to contend with, which means Econsultancy is now running four major events on a single week, plus a series of ‘fringe’ events – with all that to contend with, it’s no surprise that format tweaking wasn’t top of their radar.

The ambition inherent in the Festival of Marketing is astonishing, and must surely be applauded. Before now, there has never been an attempt by any of the big marketing publishers to create a series of events that add value to each other and to the industry as a whole – a truly laudable aim.

As ever, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and the real challenge will be delivering all these events in this extremely tight timeframe without any major calamities and without undermining Econsultancy’s own high standards in terms of content and format. There will inevitably be a danger that the huge challenge of logistics takes the edge off what were extremely successful events in their own right. Should this happen, it’s most likely that the smaller events in the portfolio (and that includes Funnel) would be the first to feel the repercussions. However there’s no evidence of this to date – logistics wise, Funnel appeared to be as effectively managed and well organised as ever.

In terms of the speakers, I was particularly impressed with Gareth Hussey, director of marketing communications at Barclaycard Business, who spoke in the first round of sessions highly eloquently about the challenges of leadership and alignment within the B2B organisation. My favourite takeaway was has suggestion that CMOs should use crises (manufactured or otherwise) as a means of driving the business agenda and getting onto the front foot with other members of the C-suite. After all, as he pointed out, there’s always another crisis, and if the CMO doesn’t invent one, you can bet the CFO soon will.

I was more disappointed with what was unapologetically a B2C case study at a B2B event from Fusionworkshop… if they can’t find any B2B clients then perhaps they should decline the opportunity to present. The whole point about B2B event attendees is that they have specifically opted to come to this rather than a generic event. A schoolboy error, if ever there was one.

Funnel was also a great opportunity to network with some familiar faces in the B2B marketing community, and some less familiar ones. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the opportunity for a free day out of the office – whether anyone actually had bought their ticket for what is billed as a paid-for event very unclear. However, despite these minor quibbles, Funnel was clearly a great success, and if all the events in the Festival of Marketing calendar go like this, Econsultancy will be very pleased by the end of the week – if not physically (and justifiably!) exhausted.