B2B Marketing Blog

How to Turn Events Into a Powerful B2B Marketing Channel

By Alexis Getscher
Feb 23, 2016
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Events and conferences are a great way to get your business in front of a like-minded audience. Each event is different and is tailored around a specific marketing topic. Find one that’s a good fit for your target customer, sponsor a booth, and a flood of customers will head your way.

It sounds easy, but event leads tend to be some of the lowest qualified. Why is that and how can we better target the right people to turn events into a strong B2B marketing channel?

It starts with sales enablement and the marketing department’s role in event preparation.

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Before the Event

The weeks, or even months, leading up to an event are some of the most important, and therefore most beneficial, in the sales enablement process.

After you’ve signed up as a sponsor, or even if you haven’t, it’s time to get to work preparing for the event. This is where sales and marketing alignment is key. The two need to work together to decide who the key targets are and how your company can stand out in a busy, bustling environment.

Targeted Ads

Through account-based marketing, the sales and marketing teams have “target accounts” they’re going after. If you know that those companies, or key individuals from those companies, will be attending the same event, use the time to your advantage.

Targeted, personalized ads can be run to prospects before the event. That way, once they get to the event they’ll already have a general idea of what your product does. Or, at the very least, your company will be one they’ve “heard of before.”

Through attribution and the tracking on the ads, you’ll know who has clicked and what else they researched on your site. Use this information to guide conversation during the event.

Meetings

In addition to advertisements, you can have your sales team call prospects in the weeks leading up to the event. Ask to set up a meeting during downtime at the event, or simply remind them to swing by your booth. Meeting spaces should be booked prior to the event. Whether it’s a conference room or a local coffee shop, it’s important to be prepared and have a set place in mind ahead of time.

Define the conversation. Are you having a general discussion about your product? Are you talking about why your product is good for their company? Are you giving a demo? Answering these questions before the meeting, will be beneficial to both parties and help to make the most of the available time.

Networking 101

Sales reps who man the booth during events can make or break the ROI you receive from attending. Before leaving for the event, it’s beneficial for the reps to meet with the event manager to discuss how to talk about your product. Who is the target audience of the event and how can you position your product within that?

Is your product something that can be easily demoed at your booth? If so, how are you going to set up the demo? Are you only going to demo to qualified prospects? All of these are questions that need to be answered by sales and marketing before the event. Having a game plan helps to make sure everything runs smoothly and your company gets the most bang for its event buck.

During the Event

During the event, marketing’s role surrounds product messaging. Because first impressions are important and time is short, it’s necessary to have the product pitch down pat. You may only get a few minutes with each prospect so the marketing team should work with sales to define which product features should be discussed or displayed at your event booth.

sales enablement, bizible booth

 

The Booth

The booth is the face of your company during events. It can draw people in from across a room, or it can cause them to skip right over you. The design matters. The events manager and/or marketing team should spend a good deal of time surrounding the booth design and how to set yours apart from the numerous companies that will be in attendance.

Marketers love free swag, but the purpose of attending the event is to reach an audience of potential customers. Giving away a Tesla may attract everyone to your booth, but how will you sort who is actually interested in your product so that you can have meaningful conversations?

The sweet spot is creating a piece of merch that will draw in qualified prospects and create deeper conversation around your business. Aim for quality over quantity.

Once you’ve attracted the right people to your booth, make sure you get information from them. Be it through swiping an event badge, or simply grabbing a phone number or email address, this is a huge part in determining the ROI of your event spend and will help in future attendance decisions. More on that later.

If you have a chance, jot down information about each person you talk to. No one likes a mass, blanket email so anything that will help you personalize outreach post-event is good information to gather.

And lastly, don’t forget to tweet with the event hashtag!

Steak Dinners

If there are target accounts or individuals you want to reach, one of the most effective ways is to set up a nice dinner during the event. Depending on how many targets are in attendance and what your budget is, each sales rep is given a specific number of “invites.” They then decide who they’d most like to sit down with and reach out to confirm attendance.

In addition to prospects, an invite should also be sent to key current customers or partners. Word of mouth advertising carries a lot of weight, so what better way to sell the prospects than to sit them next to a current, happy customer. Strategically setting the place cards is a necessity here so you make sure prospects are sitting next to customers, or certain customers are next to the CEO.

At Bizible, we create a Salesforce campaign for the dinner and add the names of everyone in attendance. That way we can track and see if the dinner touchpoint shortened the sales cycle for prospects, or helped with the upsell of a current customer.

After the Event

After the event is when the grinding really begins. Event leads should be ranked by a number of qualifications predefined by marketing and sales. At Bizible, we rank individuals as A, B, C or D accounts based on things like company size and if they’re using Salesforce or marketing automation. Tools like Datanyze simplify this process.

All of our leads are then uploaded to Salesforce where we use omni-channel attribution to track movement post event. Say a lead was already in your system, you talk to them at the event, and then a week later they book a demo and close as a customer. Attribution data would give a percentage of revenue to the event touchpoint.

This is important because it determines the ROI of your event spend.

Did prospects that you talked to during the event visit your website post event? Did leads or opportunities move farther down the funnel after visiting your booth? Did the event play a role in converting any customers?

Using attribution to answer these questions can help you decide if it’s worth it to attend similar events in the future. If the benefit of attending, be it through revenue or brand awareness, outweighs the cost, the decision is easy.

 

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