What Is B2B Event Marketing and Why You Should Still Consider it
It’s been said that the best salespeople are those who are sharp as a tack when it comes to building relationships. B2B event marketing has been proven to be as good as gold for this goal.
Not just that, it’s also a time-tested and versatile strategy for reducing sales cycles and expediting pipeline generation. Here are some statistics to back those up.
According to The Changing Environment of Exhibitions and exponents.com:
- On average, a company sets 31.6% of its marketing budget for events
- 77% of business decision-makers found at least 1 new supplier in the last trade shows they attended
- 92% of trade shows attendees are on the lookout for new products
- 99% found unique value in this B2B marketing strategy that they did not get from other channels
Looking at these numbers, it’s safe to say that businesses see a lot of potential and opportunities in these events.
Given that, in this post, we’ll talk about:
- What B2B event marketing is
- Why it’s important
- What are some types of event marketing
- Best practices you should consider
By the end of this post, you’ll be up to par with how you can take advantage of it for your brand. So keep reading to find out.
What is B2B Event Marketing?
B2B event marketing was traditionally defined to be an avenue for in-person interplay between brands to build awareness, generate leads, strengthen relationships and customer retention, sales acceleration, and actualization of other business goals.
B2B events intend to accelerate pipeline generation and shorten sales cycles for faster, larger, and more sustainable ROI. As Statista reports, 79% of US marketers generate revenue using this strategy.
However, with the current advances in technology coupled with pandemic restrictions, B2B events have evolved from being a strictly offline marketing strategy to an online one, nonetheless reaching other businesses on a more personal level compared with other online strategies.
Offline or online, B2B event marketing allows for the interchange of knowledge between brands to position themselves as thought leaders in their respective fields, helping others overcome challenges with the products and solutions they provide.
Simply said, whether it’s a physical or virtual face-to-face, B2B events are growth hacking strategies to foster relationships for an end goal of business revenue.
How is Event Marketing Effective?
Endless Events reports that a staggering 87% of C-suite executives trust in the influence of live events moving them to invest more in this marketing strategy moving forward. In a nutshell, B2B events improves:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Fostering relationships
- Gathering feedback
- Understanding competing brands
Sageworld.com reports 88% of businesses join marketing events for brand awareness. While social media marketing is still proven to be an invaluable tool, this space can be too crowded to let one brand stand out.
Hence, marketing events are seen as ways to jump out of the crowd and build a lasting impression on brands that matter. It paves way for one-on-one conversations to engage with prospects, understanding their challenges so you can poke the right pain points and position your brand better when introducing your products or services as a solution.
B2B events also help manage brand reputations so you can control how the audience perceives them.
It’s great for niche-focused services like Amazon listing optimization software. Not many might know about it so an event presenting this technology will do well with brand visibility especially for those in the FBA industry.
In terms of qualified leads, or potential customers with the highest chances of converting (aka hot leads), events marketing helps filter for this kind of audience and help nurture them.
Digital channels, paid or organic will appeal to the target market but mostly attract people that are not warm enough for conversions. In other words, while these strategies have their benefits, for hot leads generation, event marketing is much more effective.
These events are usually attended by business decision-makers. Often, these kinds of leads are difficult to reach through digital channels.
B2B events create a unique setting, bringing together brand executives or business decision-makers in one place making it a gold mine for brand awareness, relationship strengthening, and revenue generation.
These are backed up by more statistics from Sageworld.com which reports:
- 51% of those who attend these events request a sales representative visit
- 70% of event attendees look to strengthen relationships with other businesses
- 72% aim to get new leads when attending
One thing that marketing events allow businesses to do is to converse with potential clients to discuss concerns and challenges and offer solutions whether it might involve promoting your brand directly or indirectly.
Sharing knowledge alone can build your credibility as a thought leader in the industry. This is especially valuable because one of the main reasons businesses attend B2B marketing events is to gain knowledge. If you can provide them additional knowledge, they’ll likely rely on your brand for insights and consider your services and products as solutions.
It also allows prospective clients who are starting to gain interest in your brand to know about it on a deeper level through your personal interaction with them. You can showcase your brand, convey how it will add value to their business, how it can streamline processes, or solve problems.
This will be greatly beneficial for inbound marketing services for SaaS marketing brands.
Plus you’ll be able to quickly address any questions that might otherwise take time to reply to on digital channels like social media.
As a whole, B2B marketing events allow you to interact with brand executives right away where you can convey knowledge, promote your brand, and answer queries promptly, allowing them to expedite deciding whether or not your brand provides the value they need.
B2B marketing events allow you to get live feedback on what potential clients find valuable about your product or services and how it has or will benefit them.
It also allows real-time insight on shortcomings, drawbacks, and improvements they want to be added.
This way, you get current information from qualified leads about how you can improve your services, and thus allow you to reassess your offer and readjust your strategies.
A great example is if you own a visual merchandising business like an online mannequin store. Marketing events will bring you up-to-date with the current display needs of clothing businesses so you can tailor your equipment to the needs that are not yet catered by your current product line.
Understanding Competing Brands
B2B events allow you to rub shoulders with highly competitive brands in your industry where you can explore their engagement tactics, promotion initiatives, management skills, and lead generation programs.
You also get to explore and learn from their sales pitches, strategies that helped them be successful, other things they do that your brand still hasn’t implemented yet, and prepare you for the next events you’ll participate in.
Simply said, you can get ideas on how your brand can grow to their level. It allows you to watch, learn, and grow.
Say you own a catalog printing business. Knowing what other services competing brands offer like free deliveries, free samples, or discounted bundled offers can help you upgrade your service so you’ll be up to par with them.
Offline And Online B2B Marketing Events
There are 2 ways you can participate in a B2B event: as an attendee or as a host. Also, including B2B events in your marketing strategy will depend on your marketing goals.
Broadly, you can categorize marketing events into two: online and offline events. We’ll talk deeper about what’s included in each category and what will work best for your brand goals.
5 Offline B2B Marketing Events To Choose From
Traditionally, B2B events are done in person. Here are 5 B2B events you can consider.
Lunch And Learn
A lunch and learn marketing event is ideal for V-level executives, those who are one rank below C-level executives, and is usually attended by at least 20 people.
The goal here is not to present a sales pitch but more on providing value and insight on the industry, covering a specific topic.
Those who attend lunch and learn events have the goal of learning about solutions for common problems in the industry. So if you’re hosting this kind of event, research well for a prevailing concern in the targeted industry so invitees will be motivated to attend.
You can provide a 15-minute presentation about the solutions for the problem followed by a question and answer or an open forum where other brands can also offer their suggested solutions or ask about additional related concerns on the topic.
Say you’re a digital marketing brand presenting the concern on the ever-evolving SEO space, a good solution to present is to gain access to constantly updated SEO training courses or working with a tried and tested SEO agency to keep up to speed with recent advancements.
It’s also recommended to invite previous and current clients who benefitted well from your service as a solution to a business concern. As many say: “happy customers are more convincing than the best salespeople”.
When crafting your invitation for a lunch and learn event, answer questions like: why should they attend the event? What’s in it for them? Getting these questions covered will make invitees more convinced to attend.
VIP dinners are more exclusive events, ideally with only 10 C-level executives as attendees.
This limited number will make attendees feel important, a great convincing tactic since people thrive with special treatment.
Since C-level executives will be attending, you can make them feel more special if you’ll have senior executives of your brand attend the event as well. This way, conversations will connect on the same level.
VIP dinners are great for warming hot and existing leads further, making them move through the sales funnel quicker.
To make attendees feel more special, VIP dinners are a valuable opportunity to offer them an exclusive experience by giving them pampering of some sort.
Say you’re promoting an online remote work tool to automate tasks for team members, giving these executives a free trial of your remote task manager for at least 6 months will give them invaluable experience with your service.
User conferences are great when your customer base has grown to at least 600-1000 clients. You can organize user conferences to make your customer base feel like they’re part of a community.
In this setting, you can offer professional coaching, interactive presentations, and networking opportunities. This way you can establish and solidify your presence in the market so you can increase customer retention when they feel they’ve made the right investment decision as they see value in the conference.
Attendees for user conferences can range from 500 to as much as 2000. The bigger the audience, the more likely it is to establish brand confidence with your attendees.
User conferences don’t just focus on customer retention, it can also work on strengthening partnerships and marketing to additional prospects. With this in mind, you can divide your audience into:
- 30% prospects
- 30% partners
- 40% of current customers
Add to that inviting as much press as you can to further increase brand awareness. You’ll also have to prepare a video marketing strategy working with video and graphic experts for the brand awareness campaigns before and during the event.
User conferences usually take up a huge budget so they must be planned as advanced as possible to ensure goals are met and the ROI will cover the event costs. You can even consider hiring an events planner to make sure the event will go as smoothly as possible and everything will be taken care of.
Charging tickets when you’re just starting will result in poor registration and attendance. Unless you first establish the value of the conferences you organized, your audience won’t be so willing to invest in it.
Once you’ve established the value of your conferences and people trust you better, you can start charging tickets to make up for the conference operation costs.
Trade show events are exhibitions of brands in the same industry where they can promote their products and services and network with others. This is great for CRM brands and their alternatives or competitors.
Like user conferences, trade shows tend to be costly and are great if you want quick ROI. Still, it must be planned thoroughly, otherwise, you’ll just be burning your budget without reaching the optimum results expected.
A good element to include in a trade show is a speaking session so you can have dedicated time to promote your product or service to the attendees.
It must still be done tactfully though by not making it sound like a sales pitch. One way you can do this is by inviting clients to do part of the presentation. This makes the benefits and the solution your brand presents become more convincing.
Ideally, a trade show consists of booths where businesses can present their branding strategy. It’s also great to offer good-quality giveaways that are related to your brand.
If it’s a comic con kind of conference, offering costume giveaways is a sure way to attract attention.
For a cybersecurity conference, a good giveaway can be a security awareness booklet.
Don’t cheap out with the giveaways, otherwise, people will perceive your brand as low-quality.
Also, a good goal to have during trade shows is to find ways to schedule one-on-one meetings with prospects. This way you can convey brand value on a more personal level.
You have to plan thoroughly on how to execute this too. Most of the attendees are, again, decision-makers of the company, meaning they are busy people with tight agendas.
Hence you have to prepare a demand generation strategy to draw them to your booth and get them to agree on one-on-one meetings.
Roadshows are about bringing the event to people rather than the other way around. These are effective for new markets like a brand in the cryptocurrency space or a new business solution for cold calling like a predictive dialer.
As a roadshow supposedly is, these are one-day events in several locations usually done to promote brand awareness or position the brand as solutions to an industry concern.
Like trade shows, roadshows can be budget-intensive hence long and careful event marketing planning is vital so you can maximize networking opportunities.
Added to the demand generation strategy, you must also consider logistics.
Generally, roadshows should be free to join. Brand awareness for a new market will work effectively if you gather as much audience as possible and free passes to the event will achieve that goal.
Customers doing presentations are still invaluable in these kinds of events so you must also arrange their participation in multiple locations.
To drive more attendees, work closely with partner brands. If you’re working in the online restaurant space, working with people who use your online food ordering system will get you more people involved. They usually have local networks they can utilize.
Although it’s cost and labor-intensive, when planned strategically, roadshows will generate tons of B2B leads especially when a good impression is stamped on the minds of the audience.
2 Online B2B Marketing Events To Choose From
Online seminars are great when discussing a business solution. It can include a discussion, a lecture, a presentation, demonstration, and a workshop on the brand promoted.
You should also include a forum or a question and answer session to address queries and pressing concerns that might be the only thing stopping them from converting.
This is great if you’re building additional brand revenues like affiliate marketing and are offering a way to create personalized programs for your business.
As for perks for the attendees, you can offer audio or text files as giveaways as well as application access.
Live streaming events are mostly used by businesses for brand awareness. A great platform for this type of event is Everytale where chat functions combined with polls and tests are offered. It allows for real-time interaction which works almost like when you attend offline events and interact directly with attendees.
Live streaming can also allow you to give your audience a glimpse of the company, the people behind it, and the way things work as long as you have the right streaming software for the job.
B2B Event Marketing Best Practices
You can’t call an event successful simply by organizing and finishing it. Granted, the execution is a great feat but it can only be called successful if the marketing goals are achieved.
Here are some best practices to consider to reach B2B event marketing goals:
- Assemble an event-specialized team
- Launch a lead-up marketing strategy to build anticipation
- Specify and align event objectives by creating frameworks and KPIs
- Prepare high-quality giveaways related to your brand
- Schedule as many one-on-one meetings as possible
- Invite happy and satisfied clients to do presentations
- Create a post-event marketing plan, clearly defining the roles of team members, partners, and brand ambassadors
- Follow-up on C-level and V-level prospects fast, ideally within the week of the event
When attending events, people always consider what’s in it for them like – the benefits they can get from it. Creating an event strategy that provides value and position’s your brand as a thought leader in the field is one of the main elements for a successful event.
Again, events are resource-intensive so they must be planned as thoroughly as possible so no efforts and resources will go to waste.
Always aim for one-on-one interactions because this is the best way to build relationships and achieve customer retention.
People buy from people so it’s always a good idea to give clients a role in convincing prospects to work with your brand.
At the end of the day, if you’re able to increase brand visibility, strengthen relationships, and produce tremendous ROI on B2B marketing events, your efforts are successful.