In a survey recently conducted by Marketing Charts, B2B companies reported that events help generate more leads than any other strategy. Even with that reassurance, event investment can feel counterintuitive when measured against digital technologies that can reach thousands of target buyers with a single, often less expensive campaign.
Though modern digital marketing offers a multitude of ways to connect with buyers across channels and platforms, events allow you to engage with your prospects face-to-face in high quality interactions. Whether you’re speaking at a thought leadership conference or highlighting the features of your product or service at a trade show, events are a valuable way to personalize your company and establish a strong presence with your target audience.
However, realizing the full return on investment for your next event requires more than an in-depth presentation or an eye-catching booth. To fully leverage your attendance, it’s critical to develop a sound marketing strategy for before, during and after your next event.
Prior to attending any conference, trade show or summit, events should be scheduled and incorporated into your organization’s marketing plan. Doing so creates opportunities to make these events into more than just a one-day occurrence and enables engagement with those who may not be able to attend in person. Rather than including only those shows you’ve gone to in the past, seek out new events worth attending as well. Planning well in advance ensures you’ll have the time and resources prepared to get the most out of each event, even unfamiliar ones.
Once you’ve crafted a viable event planning timeline, be sure to broadcast your attendance across multiple marketing channels. As each event approaches, take advantage of your website and social media channels to share that you will be exhibiting, attending, sponsoring or speaking at the event. Include your involvement in your company newsletter and consider leveraging existing online communities where prospects are already gathering and interacting. Additionally, encourage your sales team to mention event attendance when they’re interacting with prospects.
The engagement you drive beforehand is critical for attracting relevant leads to the event and ultimately, to your company booth. This is one of the pre-steps that expands your reach beyond just event attendees by leveraging your existing database of prospects and clients. Even if everyone you contact isn’t attending, it’s a great chance to showcase the creative elements and strategies you develop for the show to a wider audience and to offer other means of connecting outside of the event.
During the event
When attending the event, you should interact with both your in-person audience as well as your digital audience. This dual strategy allows you to broaden the reach of your attendance beyond just the prospects that stop by your booth. Use tactics such as live tweets and video highlights to create an immersive experience that your social followers can engage with. Share your involvement on LinkedIn and look for relevant LinkedIn Groups tied to the event that you can join. This is a perfect way to spark initial conversations with top-funnel leads and establish yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry.
To make the most out of your in-person attendance, talk to everyone and always exchange contact information. On average, 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies. Be it a presenter or fellow exhibitor, you never know who you may want to stay in touch with after the show. Consider bringing subject matter experts from your team along in case attendees or media experts want to dive deeper into certain aspects of your business. Regardless of which team members you bring, ensure everyone has pre-planned talking points prior to the event so that key messages can be consistently reinforced.
Finally, events are a great opportunity to survey your industry and competitive landscape. Polish up your understanding of who your competitors are in the marketplace and look for new industry developments to capitalize on. As you engage with a variety of attendees, this is also a perfect time to hone your buyer personas and their individual needs. These findings will translate to key insight for your messaging strategy and can even be leveraged post-show for high-value thought leadership content.
After the event
After the event has passed, your immediate priority is to follow up with any leads captured from the event. Your follow-up approach can be as simple as sharing keynote speakers’ slides or articles relevant to the event via email. Connecting with prospects on LinkedIn is another simple yet effective strategy for sparking early-funnel conversations. Be sure to track any follow-ups as they progress through your sales cycle to glean further insight on your event ROI and the effectiveness of your lead conversion.
When following up, consider including thought leadership content from your company or industry updates from the event in your content marketing efforts. Craft a mix of sales collateral as well as high-value gated assets that drive traffic and downloads on your site. This approach simultaneously boosts your lead generation efforts and builds a reputable brand image for your company.
Lastly, invest in the time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Request feedback from any employees you took along, as well as from your sales team as they begin moving leads through the funnel. The important takeaway is that there are opportunities to capitalize on at every stage of the event process. Regardless of the individual tactics your company employs, they should ultimately support your lead generation goals and boost revenue for your business.
Looking for deeper insight to improve the ROI of your next event? Download our B2B Marketer’s Guide to Event Marketing eBook today!