B2B Marketing Blog

Why We Scrapped All But One B2B Event Sponsorship in 2017

By Alexis Getscher
Feb 6, 2017
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Events are often a huge part of a B2B organization’s marketing strategy. They guarantee an audience filled with like-minded individuals who are all interested in the presentations and products surrounding the event industry.

In theory, events that will attract the target personas of your customers would seem like the perfect place to set up a booth and get to connecting. But that’s not always true.

Which is why, in 2017, we’ve decided to only sponsor a single event-- down from nine the year before. Here’s how we know it’s the best decision for our bottom line.

B2B event sponsorship

A lot of factors went into our decision to decrease the number of events we sponsor, but ultimately, as with all of our marketing decisions, it came down to ROI and revenue.

Measuring the Success of an B2B Event Sponsorship

Marketers need to evaluate the success of events the same way as other marketing efforts. Not in badge scans or contest entries; or number of appointments booked or brand awareness. Instead, it should be measured in how much revenue was driven from the event.

You may have scanned hundreds of badges, but how many of those turned into closed deals? People who never heard of your company before may have walked past your booth and discovered your brand. But how many of those individuals visited your website when they got home, flowed through your sales funnel and eventually became a customer?

If you can’t answer these questions, you can never really know the true business value gained by event attendance. And if you don’t know the business value of attendance, you won’t know if it’s wasted spend or driving revenue.

Events can, and should, be tracked and measured just like other marketing channels. A multi-touch attribution solution that integrates directly with the CRM will connect the prospect touchpoints that occurred before, during and after event attendance, allowing marketers to see what role the event played in the sales journey and ultimately the revenue it impacted.

Instead of saying you talked with 100 people, you can say you talked with 100 people, of which 5 went on to become customers for $X amount of revenue.

Using Data to Make Future Decisions

Attribution data is obtained by looking back and connecting past touchpoints to current revenue, but its value doesn’t stop there. Marketers can then use that data to make future decisions that positively impact the bottom line.

At Bizible, we’ve used omnichannel attribution to track events for the last couple years and analyzing that data is what led us to a complete overhaul of our event sponsorship strategy for 2017.

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For most of the events we sponsored in 2016, we spent more than we made in future closed deals. Add in the time it takes to plan, book and execute, and the margin is even larger. We just weren’t getting back what we put in.

However, we noticed that one event has historically provided positive ROI no matter our spend. Each year we’ve sponsored Marketo Marketing Nation Summit we’ve increased our sponsorship level, and each year we’ve seen a positive increase in ROI.

So, for 2017, we’re going all in. We’ll spend more than we’ve ever spent on a single event but our data tells us that it will be worth it.

Making an Impact without an Event Sponsorship

Although we’re only sponsoring one event this year, that doesn’t mean we’ll be completely absent from the B2B event circuit. Applying an account-based marketing strategy to event attendance means that you can still make an impact without a sponsorship.

Marketing events bring potential customers from all over the country the same location. There’s a lot of value in that, that’s wasted if you only have a booth. Applying an ABM strategy, ask yourself, what companies on our ideal customer list will be in attendance? Which contacts from those companies will be at the event?

Make a list of those contacts and start to book appointments. The undivided attention of a prospect over coffee is infinitely more valuable than a badge scan at a booth. The same is true about chatting with five or six potential customers at an invite-only dinner. The more you can grab their attention, the better chance you’ll have at making a lasting impression that translates into a closed deal.

Lastly, if the event is large and your salespeople can’t possibly meet with everyone they’d like to over a few-day span, another option is to do an event “takeover.” Renting a space in, or near, the event hall is a great way to make an impact without sponsoring.

You can then turn the space into a lounge and invite everyone from the list of key contacts you’ve identified. Fill the room with your best salespeople and current customers, and you’ve created the perfect environment to have valuable interactions that lead to close deals.

Conclusion

Planning and scheduling takes countless hours of time, add in the cost of the sponsorship itself, flights, hotels and meals, and event sponsorships are a huge undertaking. This is why it’s important to measure the success of events in the same way as other marketing investments-- impact on the bottom line.

Some will be worth it, others will not. But it’s impossible to know unless you’re tracking event touchpoints to revenue. If you’d like to learn more about multi-touch attribution, download the ebook below.

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