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Any good B2B marketer knows that people like to buy from people. It may be a business or service-related product that’s on offer, but engaging with a real person and forming a relationship is what will ultimately land the deal.
Buyers want to get to know the people behind the product. That is vital for giving them an impression of what it may be like to work with you and for building trust - plus importantly, seeing how good a ‘fit’ you may be as a supplier.
So, it’s no surprise that B2B marketers continue to rate in-person events as one of the most effective lead generation tactics around. Getting face-to-face with potential clients and even better, getting them face-to-face with existing customers, can work wonders for any marketing funnel and sales pipeline.
Different types of B2B events
There are many ways you may go about leveraging event marketing for lead generation. Traditionally, exhibiting at a trade show or other industry event was a mainstay of many B2B firms. And indeed, it is still a tactic considered and used by many (although it’s effectiveness can vary greatly).
What has really taken off in recent years is firms hosting their own in-person events, or collaborating with others to do so. These can range in size from small breakfast briefings, to large afternoon events complete with guest speakers, and anything in between.
With the growth in all things digital, the way events are being managed, promoted and even attended (with webinars now a hugely popular medium) has also evolved, creating yet more opportunities in its wake.
You may also be interested in: The top 2 B2B event types for closing more sales.
It’s important to set goals prior to attending an event, have an understanding of what you wish to achieve and then you can think about how your time will be spent. Plan your event well in advance by writing a detailed itinerary of the speaker sessions you’ll be sitting in on, the exhibitors you wish to meet and people you’d like to network with. Many events now provide an online diary to plan how you’ll spend your time.
Events are an evergreen marketing tactic, they remain a powerful and influential channel for lead generation. So make the perfect event plan, then you can re-use it again and again! But above all remember- it’s all about standing out from the crowd. Imagine being surrounded by your competitors- how will you make sure prospects come to your stand first?
Top Tip- don’t forget to plan proper staffing. National events can take a large amount of employees to ensure fruitful hot lead generation. Take time to look at the event and its expected foot-fall, and organize who’ll be attending well in advance.
But whatever type of event marketing is being used, it’s never going to be a quick or cheap channel to pursue. Costs can be considerable, not to mention the time and resources needed to pull together a successful event – from the planning and preparation, to the running of the event itself and all post-event activity. It’s easy to ask if attending B2B events is worthwhile at all!
Measuring and being able to demonstrate a positive return on investment remains a key metric for all B2B marketers and events are no different. (For more ideas on how you do this, check out: How to evaluate your event marketing strategy and define ROI)
Make sure you set measurable goals in relation to leads and conversions- even if you’re planning to attend an event for purely networking purposes, make sure you set a target to meet. Seeing event ROI isn’t difficult when you’re well informed, and you ensure post-event analysis comes to fruition. Follow these 3 easy steps to get started!
With marketing budgets stretched and more and more competition from other businesses who wish to get in on the action, you need to ensure you are maximizing the lead generation opportunities being produced by your events. Make the most of your event marketing efforts with our cheat sheet: Maximizing your B2B event marketing.
To help you get started, here are some top tips for driving the best possible lead generation results from your event marketing strategies:
Tip 1: Create a buzz around your event (and make it fun!)
Creating a pre-event buzz around your event and the company is one of the best ways to drive awareness and encourage more traction. That goes whether you’re trying to drive attendees to an in-person event, or delegates to visit your stand.
You’ve got to think outside the box if you want to stand out from the competition. A bland ‘Attend our event’ or ‘Visit our stand’ message is never going to capture the imagination and engage your target audience. You need to think of a creative campaign, not just push out a release and a few emails.
For example, Payscale (and their purple squirrel) created a pre-event buzz with an email campaign featuring an interactive personality assessment for their contacts to ‘find their inner purple squirrel’ – random but memorable.
The result? By creating an enticing pre-event campaign and following up with an invite to the event, Payscale reportedly generated over 600 leads before the conference had even started, AND created an awesome conversation starter for stand visitors too.
Remember- your event stand or booth also offers a chance to get creative! Think of a good crowd-driver, so people are attracted to your stand from a distance as well as up-close. People love freebies, demonstrations and new technical experiences- get the event attendees chatting about how individual your stand is, so people visit you just to find out what the buzz is about!
Don’t forget there are also loads of cool tools around that can help and social media can be the perfect vehicle to help you spread your campaign.
With events, sometimes it’s a simple as being sociable. The power of WOM (word of mouth) proves the test of time at events; you have no idea what connections you’ll make that will come back to you later. Be proactive and spark that sought after WOM at your next event.
With this in mind, ensure you know your pitch, and have it nailed for on demand recall. Those first 60 seconds are vital, and if you don’t get your message across, you’ll have a pretty quiet event.
Tip 2: Conduct some research to create a talking point
Content marketing is a big deal for most B2B firms. Your event marketing should fit snuggly into your content plans, inspiring both pre-event materials and also becoming a source of content afterwards (such as video clips or images taken at the event itself).
One tactic to consider here is conducting an industry study or survey. This will provide you with something new and fresh to talk about. It could be done beforehand and used to generate content promoting your event, or it could even be done during your event, with answers gathered from the delegates you speak with. The end result should be a great conversation starter.
For example, if you created a short survey of questions related to your industry, your delegates’ needs and their future predictions (as an example), you’d have current data you could use to create an original whitepaper or marketing guide. If you release snippets of the insights gained and provided the rest as a downloadable report, you’d be driving more potential leads.
Creating an interesting, first-hand research paper and distributing it to event attendees will also help boost lead generation, by reinforcing your brand as a trusted information resource.
Tip 3: Go digital for the optimum results
Do you have a plan for those prospects who can’t make it on the day?
Technology is an incredible thing. Yes, getting people there in person is what you’re really pushing for, but streaming live from your event can be a very effective backup – if you’re brave enough! It could help boost your lead generation efforts by enabling you to reach even more people – which all goes towards the potential ROI.
For example, Engineering.com was brave enough to give it a go and the team saw four times as many people attending their webinar, as could make it to their event workshop in person.
By extending your reach online you can increase your results. Consider offering the content as a live webinar, running social media events or video streaming. You’ll boost your opportunities for lead generation and put your brand at the forefront of tech-savvy lead generation that effectively combines the online and offline.
Digital also helps boost a vital part of event attendance- lead tracking. Promote an event form fill for those you engage with on the day to get instant lead capture and help easily and instantly quantify event results.
- Have a post-event plan – Make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and gets straight on with it. Time is of the essence with follow ups, if you’re to maximize your results.
- Capture leads in different ways - Use special offers at your event that are designed to capture leads.
- Make the most of technology – Look at ways to capturing leads on the spot, quickly and easily. For example, have a tablet people can use to fill in a form, or create an app.
- Think about the delegate experience – How the event goes will say a lot about you as a company. Ensure you provide a smooth experience from start to finish. Be thorough in your planning and consider every little detail, no matter how small.
- Do a comprehensive event ‘washup’ the day after the event - Record what worked, what didn’t and what should be done differently next time. That way, any subsequent events will be even stronger and more effective. Just be warned, if you leave this conversation until too long after the event, then the insights won’t be as detailed or as valuable.
- Offer live demonstrations- Draw in prospects with a compelling presentation or product demonstration to teach them more about your business and what products/services you offer. This technique can boost lead generation, help marketing research and close sales on the spot.
- Conduct thorough evaluation- Make sure you invest time after the event to evaluate performance and document any lessons learned. Use this process not only to assess the figures against your targets but to scrutinize performance and identify opportunities to increase future event ROI.
- Take lots of notes- Be sure to have a notepad to hand throughout the event to make the most of all the imparted knowledge. No doubt you will be attending a myriad of conferences, keynotes and seminars throughout the event so be ready for some serious jotting. Once you return from the event you could even turn your notes into a new content piece or even relay the findings back to your team.
Event marketing success is a topic we’ve covered a lot on this blog and you’ll find loads more great tips in these blogs too:
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