Boosting B2B Event Outcomes: 5 Smart Strategies
Jun 17, 2016 / By Vanessa Horwell
Whether you're exhibiting at a top-tier industry conference or hosting your own meetup or forum, events tend to test a B2B team's mettle. From logistical planning and budget constraints to contract negotiations, A/V, and electrical concerns, events involve a million moving parts (and a million things that can go wrong).
Beyond planning and coordination, it also takes a thoughtfully integrated strategy to earn high-value event marketing outcomes. Anyone can set up a booth, sponsor a conference, or book a venue – but not everyone knows how to capitalize on event-driven opportunities to earn new leads, acquire new partners, or win high-impact media coverage.
Before, during, and after any event, it's important to assess and improve your team's performance to ensure you're always satisfied with your overall event performance (or understand why your outcomes came in under par). Here are five strategies we advise our clients to use to make certain every event reaps a positive revenue impact.
Map Your Budget
Sure, your team starts the year with a portion of your marketing budget allocated to the Events bucket. But in many B2B companies, how those funds will be applied across various types of events is determined over the course of the year on a case-by-case basis.
Plotting out, from the start, how your event budget will be applied in practice can lessen the decision-making pressure each time a new event opportunity comes up. Even the most basic allocations (50 percent to conference sponsorships; 10 percent for custom collateral; and so on) can help guide your plans and keep your spending on track.
Set Your Goals
Especially when it comes to the supposedly "Must Attend Events" in your sector, many B2B companies fall victim to FOMO – the fear of missing out. But by attending any event just to see and be seen, you’re allowing your business objectives to play second fiddle to simply showing up and seeing what happens.
For your event strategy to succeed, you need to consistently keep both your big-picture and small-picture goals in mind at all times. That means plotting how many new leads (and sales) you aim to win from your entire annual event budget, as well as for each individual event you plan or participate in.
Seek Value-Add Opportunities
Every B2B company understands the need to negotiate event participation and venue contracts to the fullest extent possible. But it's important think beyond just keeping down costs down or earning 'gratis' add-ons like comped electrical or early set-up.
With your goals in mind, enter every event negotiation with an eye for maximizing value – whether that means tacking on a speaking role, winning a post-event attendee list, earning a sixth hour at the venue when you pay for five, or otherwise. And be mindful of ROI: sometimes paying extra for an ancillary opportunity (like a post-event happy hour) can earn you stronger outcomes.
Never Neglect Media Value
Every event is an opportunity to earn high-impact media coverage. But a basic press release announcing that your company is exhibiting, speaking, or hosting something is unlikely to attract press interest or drive mentions. It takes a more creative strategy to captivate the event media's attention – and that's where a smart B2B PR partner comes in handy.
With the help of an agency that has deep subject matter expertise (and media connections) in your industry, you can execute a comprehensive blitz designed around your brand's unique thought leadership, value proposition, and contributions. Since media coverage extends the marketing value of your event investment, you should never neglect your PR strategy when plotting your event plans.
Conduct a Postmortem
Busy as they are, many B2B teams fail to reflect on outcomes after an event. But beyond loading business-card contacts into their email database and sending a "thanks for stopping by our booth" email, it's important to assess whether each event was a success, a failure, or something in between.
Following every event, review whether you met your goals, why or why not, and what you'll do differently – either in the next event, or with your event strategy altogether. And in the case of industry conferences, try to make a definitive decision right away about whether to get involved again next year. A million things can go wrong with any event, but it all begins with the question of whether it can truly deliver the value you deserve!
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