At align.me, we run a lot of B2B marketing events – for ourselves and for our Marketing Services clients
These range from small, boardroom discussions with just a handful of prospects in a room; to larger, forum-style events with various decision makers and companies in attendance.
Regardless of the size or format, the objective is always the same: to get a bunch of targeted individuals together, and have them acknowledge the problems they face in their business – problems that we, surprise surprise, happen to be well-equipped to solve.
Although events require a lot of preparation and effort, we often find that the results are well worth the hard work. A good event can achieve buyer progressions through multiple stages of the funnel, and deliver qualified, sales-ready leads. Here are five reasons why we think events are an important tactic to deploy in the marketing mix, and our tips for getting the most value out of them:
1. Events help to position you in your category
Even the smallest events need large invitation lists – particularly if you’re inviting a cold list. That’s why, even before you’ve run the actual event, the invitation alone has the potential to position you with hundreds of highly relevant people who may otherwise be completely unaware of you who are and what you do. A well-written direct mail invitation that zeroes in on a relevant topic is powerful, because it sends a signal that you know a thing or two about that topic.
To position effectively, tailor your event and invitation to your audience’s role and industry. Focus the event theme around a problem they are likely to be experiencing, and that your business is good at solving. The vast majority of invitees won’t attend, but if they’ve read the invitation, they will at least understand the problems you solve. And that will come in handy when they come up against those same problems in the future.
2. Events establish interest
Further down the funnel, events create interest. People register to attend events because they want to learn more about the topic or issue that your invitation promises to take them through – so make sure your event delivers against these expectations with relevant and valuable content.
Before that though, it’s important to do as much as you can to get as many people interested in attending the event. Multiple touch points (email, letter, phone call) are crucial, and you’ll need to be in touch with your list at least five times prior to the event to get the desired number of attendees.
3. Events create troubled buyers
Ah, a troubled buyer – the holy grail of B2B marketing! Why are troubled buyers so important to B2B marketers? Because, a troubled buyer who has clarity around the problem he or she is facing is more likely to explore potential solutions with the person that helped them obtain that clarity. Cue the event’s facilitator, who, during the event, has spoken on that very problem. And has led an impassioned discussion around it. And happens to be a very good salesperson.
Events are a great troubling tactic because they allow for a two-way dialogue, allowing the facilitator and attendee to define a problem together. And, with others in the room facing similar challenges in their business, attendees get validation that their challenges are real – and that overcoming them is possible.
To lead attendees through this journey, make sure you give them plenty of opportunities to contribute to the discussion. Ask them questions, give them a chance to pose their own, and take them through workshop activities to help them see how they might begin to solve those problems.
4. Events deliver sales-ready leads
Having created troubled buyers, events help to deliver leads who are ready to seek a solution. Asking attendees to complete a qualifying survey at the end of the event can help to identify highly-qualified leads to pass onto Sales. For smaller events, following up with all attendees to schedule a meeting is key. The event itself represents only the beginning of the relationship, and marketers need to ensure that the relationship doesn’t end when the event does.
5. Events recycle buyers back into the funnel
Well after they’re over, events continue to play a powerful role in recycling leaked buyers (e.g. those that didn’t register), and nurturing them through the funnel. That’s because they give you a good reason to stay in touch with invitees, regardless of whether or not they attended. An email summary of key insights can be distributed to your invitee list (if they’ve opted in to receive email from you), as can any videos captured of the event. The event discussion also provides good content for future blogs and white papers to be sent to invitees, as well as your wider database.
Of course, once you’ve run your first event, you’ll have a clear idea of how to run your next one, and the one after that – and future events give you a chance to resume the invitation process with your audience over and over again.