In-person b2b events are back and with a boom. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that virtual events can work to help businesses reach new audiences. However, many marketers will be rejoicing at the chance to network and experience events IRL again.
In fact, when asked what kind of events they’d like moving forward, 42% of people in the US said they’d only attend in-person events, 52% said they’d prefer hybrid and only 6% were interested in sticking with online events. While we believe that virtual events are here to stay and can be hugely beneficial for both organizers and attendees, it appears the majority are sick of meeting people through their laptop screens!
With the world returning to in-person events, many companies will be rethinking their event strategy. For event marketers, attending or sponsoring B2B events can be expensive. Instead of signing up to every event you see, you need to create a strategy to ensure you get the best return on investment (ROI). So, where do you start? Let’s take a look.
How to Make an Event Marketing Strategy
Your marketing team probably has an overall marketing strategy, a content strategy, ad strategy and so on. But many teams fail to create proper strategies for events. Like we said, events can be expensive, but they’re also essential to driving B2B leads. You wouldn’t waste $2,000 on a Google Search campaign without first building a strategy, so why do that for an event ticket that costs the same amount?
The purpose of making an event marketing strategy is to ensure you choose winning events that will drive the most returns. Events that will put you and your company in front of the right audience and open you up to the right opportunities. Starting with how you prep.
Pre Event Research
Before you consider any events you need to do your research!
For a few reasons.
First, is that as marketers we’re brand guardians, so you need to make sure that the event and the company running it are aligned with your organization’s values.
Secondly, the event content, keynotes, sponsors and attendees need to line up with your organization and marketing goals. Chances are, by attending events with speakers and content similar to yours, you set yourself up to:
1. Find the right target audience who are interested in the content you’re already talking about and;
2. Your team is well equipped to spark up conversation on the topic and appear like experts to potential leads.
We’d recommend creating a list of events that are aligned with your company’s industry, ethos, messaging, and content. Once you’ve created a shortlist, use an event intelligence tool like Vendelux, to do your due diligence on whether or not attendees fit your target market.
With Vendelux there’s also the ability to reverse engineer. You can search by attendee name, upload a CSV list of contacts or even connect your CRM to analyze leads and accounts and add matches to your prospect list.
Vendelux saves you time and energy, by compiling event data for you. Find out attendee details like: their company, job title and even their name, so you can whittle your list down to events that will be most beneficial to you.
The same approach applies for agreeing sponsorship packages. Make sure you get your brand in front of the right people, by doing thorough research, or using Vendelux to do it for you. That way, you increase your chances of interacting with qualified leads.
Event Marketing Plan and Calendar
Once you’ve done your research, you now know what events are aligned with your B2B marketing strategy and your goals.
The next step is to map out who from your team will go to which event, on which date, location, etc. Plan this in a shared event calendar, so the whole team is kept in the loop.
When you’ve created your event calendar, it’s important to set goals and an event strategy for those who will attend from your company. Take your marketing funnel and adapt it for each event. For example:
- Step one – Awareness: Increase awareness of your company by engaging about the event in your content and social media. For example, plan social media content that tells your audience and competitors that you’ll be there, speaking at or sponsoring the event. Invite those who’ll also attend to comment and engage with your company online before meeting you in real life. Research members of your target audience who’ll be there and see if they’ve mentioned any keynotes they can’t wait to see, so your team can go to those too.
- Step two – Interest: Prepare how you’ll catch your audience’s interest. For example, pre-arrange topic areas for discussions with your target audience. Tailor this to the different audience and event. And always make sure your team has an elevator pitch that they memorize and are aligned on.
- Step three – Consideration: Think of creative field marketing ideas you can use to make your company more memorable. Maybe it’s a useful or funny object with a QR code that links to their personal LinkedIn. All employees that attend should have business cards, brochures or any other keepsake they can hand to potential prospects. Whatever you choose, it needs to be as easy as possible for prospects to contact you, to move from consideration to conversion.
Top tip: Possibly the most important stage in this whole process is to plan what lead capturing process you’ll use. How will you make sure any potential leads are not lost? Add this into your plan to ensure you’ve thought of every step and are ready to nurture leads straight after the event.
- Step four – Conversion: The last part of your plan should be your post-event follow up. You’ve done the hard part of generating potential leads, but no one is making a deal on the spot, so how will you turn them from a prospect to lead? How will you re-engage after the event?
Create a pitch and outreach plan that will help you stand out from the crowd and seal the deal. For example, maybe you noted down an interesting discussion you had with a potential lead. In your follow up email, you find new information on it and add to the discussion, giving them value and positioning your company as an expert on that topic.
Top tip: Part of the conversion stage that you shouldn’t miss is the post-event content. Make sure to send company representatives who are happy to be in photos, and post updates from the event during and after. If your audience is B2B it might take longer to convert leads. By sharing insights and engaging online through your social media and content channels, you stay top of mind for these companies. Which could help push a deal over the line.
Align Sales and Marketing
Consider this: 68% of B2B marketers say in-person events generate the most leads.
When companies attend B2B marketing events they usually choose to send sales and marketing. But also according to research, 55% of marketers don’t know what materials sales teams will use at these events. Teams who are not aligned, are getting in the way of their own results.
As mentioned previously, having a solid plan for every step of the event is essential to producing great ROI. This means that sales and marketing have to be completely aligned on the plan, event strategy and materials needed to reach your goals. To ensure both teams are on the same page, both departments should be involved in the event marketing strategy, from start to finish. Regardless of who attends the in person event, your event marketing strategy should ensure a smooth transition from marketing qualified leads to sales discussions.
Use a Tool to Find the Best Events
Creating a solid event marketing strategy can take time and a lot of energy to build. In fact, you should already be planning and creating your strategy for the next year! It’s best to get in early on these events, especially if you want to secure one of those coveted sponsorship positions at the top events.
To make sure that you’re making the right decisions, use a data-driven tool to help. Vendelux is an event intelligence platform built to give B2B event marketers every bit of information they need to attend the right events for their goals. Simply search and filter up to 30,000 events worldwide, and get information on not only the event, price and sponsorship information, but also details on each attendee. Sound too good to be true? See it for yourself.