Events and conferences are a huge part of B2B marketing. They are a place to learn about emerging trends and connect with like-minded individuals and potential customers. If you ask marketers their main reason for investing in events, a majority of them will say “lead generation.” But only focusing on lead generation, leaves a lot of potential revenue on the table.
Instead, using events as a bottom-of-funnel channel will help Sales close more deals and increase the ROI of your event spend. Everything we do in marketing should lead to revenue, why would field marketing be any different?
Here’s why field marketing should really just be sales.
Marketing events give you the chance to meet and talk face to face. When that interaction is simply used to scan badges or hand out branded swag, you’re only brushing the surface of the full event potential. Instead of spending all your time designing the best looking event space, or the coolest swag that will draw every attendee to your booth, focus on attracting the right prospects. A single interaction with a qualified account will always be more valuable than 100 interactions with prospects who have no need for your product.
Engaging with target accounts during an event is a more valuable touchpoint than a typical website visit. You don’t have full control over the content the target account sees on your website or how long they spend there, but with an in-person interaction, you get their undivided attention and can control the flow of information, which can include a product demo, conversation with sales reps and/or customer references.
Who are the key stakeholders?
The most important part of field marketing is the planning process. Marketing and Sales should work together to map out the goals of the event, which prospects your company wants to target, and how to get them to meet you and discuss your product.
Prior to the event, the sales team should create a target account/contact list. Which companies are current open opportunities in Salesforce? Who within those companies are you trying to reach? Are there any account you really want to sell, but have yet to interact with?
Sales should answer these, and other similar questions, in the months leading up to the event. The answers to the questions will make up the list of accounts you want to engage during the event. Marketing and Sales can then work together to brainstorm the best way to reach each contact or account.
How do you reach stakeholders?
There are a number of ways to have valuable interactions during events and what works will be different for everyone. But for any company, the best way to reach key stakeholders is to go and get them.
For us, we’ve found that an environment that combines current customers with target prospects, and our sales team or C-suite, delivers a high ROI.
Current customers can be some of your best salespeople because they are active users and have no reason to be anything but honest about their experiences with your product.
Sales dinners or happy hours are a great way to pair these customers with key stakeholders you want to close. Reach out to specific contacts at accounts you want to engage and invite them to be your guest at dinner during the event. You will have the undivided attention of those that attend and enjoy a nice dinner in the process.
Outside of dinners, there are other creative ways to draw key contacts to your booth. In 2015, Influitive created a wild west “Most Wanted” list for Dreamforce. If an attendee brought a key stakeholder from the most wanted list to the Influitive booth, they would both receive $50. Fun, creative ideas like this not only get people talking, but they bring all the right contacts straight to your salespeople.
This concept would have never worked without a detailed marketing plan and defined Sales list of key targets, prior to the event.
How do you measure if event efforts are working?
Multi-touch, omni-channel marketing attribution will accurately measure the success of your event, along with all other online and offline campaigns, so you know what’s working or not. Once the event is over, contacts you interacted with will be uploaded to Salesforce and the most advanced marketing attribution will track movement post event, giving revenue credit to the key touchpoints through the funnel on a contact’s journey toward a closed customer.
This is important because it will tell you if a prospect who talked to you at the booth visited your website and downloaded content after the event. Or, if prior leads or opportunities transitioned deeper into the funnel by requesting a demo after the event.
A separate Salesforce campaign can be set up specifically for the dinner. With this, you’ll want to track upsells of the current customers who attended, velocity and close rates post dinner.
True event ROI is determined by how much revenue the event creates for the company, not how many new leads you upload.
Ideally, events should increase sales velocity and lead to closed deals. Salespeople aren’t there to hand out swag (anyone can do that), they are there to develop connections with target accounts and have interactions that turn them into new customers.
Sponsoring events, designing the event booth, and all logistics around company attendance, from flights to hotel rooms, can quickly add up in price. Make the most of that cost by focusing events on closed deals and revenue, not leads and top of the funnel interactions.