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 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.
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.
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)
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 maximising the lead generation opportunities being produced by your events. Make the most of your event marketing efforts with our cheat sheet: Maximising 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 before 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.
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.
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.
- 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 maximise 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.
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:
- The ultimate B2B event tool kit
- How To Get More From B2B Events
- 8 tips for maximizing the performance of your next event