Have you ever been to an Ornament Exchange party during the holidays? The ones where each attendee brings an ornament and everyone exchanges until they get the one they want? Think of B2B event marketing as one of those parties. Each person’s ornament is their product, and each person is trying to convince the others in the room their ornament is the best. Everyone at the party is there with the hopes of walking away with a fancy ornament, and you want to make sure your handmade owl is the most highly sought after.
B2B event marketing employs this same general principle – you have an event where attendees are there to walk away with a product, which is very likely similar to your product, and as such, you need to convince the attendee why yours is the best. Ideally, this event is not the first time they’ve seen your product, but rather, is one of many times they’ve been exposed to your product through various events and other marketing channels, and they are now at the end of their buying cycle. So, in order to attract those customers when they’re ready to buy, you need to make sure you’ve fully integrated events into your B2B marketing strategy.
B2B Marketing Basics
Business to business marketing, better known as B2B marketing, is the transaction between two businesses. Essentially, it’s where one company sells its products to another, and no end users are involved. Typically the transaction is a lot bigger when it comes to B2B sales, because there’s usually a bigger research phase before a business will commit to a big buy from you. Often times, B2B event marketing is helpful in building trust with your potential customers because these events allow you to share your expertise with them one-on-one, and in person. There are some companies out there who keep their answers close to them and therefore avoid in-person events like trade shows. In reality, the more you share, the more likely it will be you can build trust with your target customers. As such, targeting them throughout their research phase with events such as webinars, and tradeshows will go a long way in building the faith in what you are selling.
The Role of Event Marketing
At an Ornament Exchange party, people are attending expecting to be exposed to a slough of ornaments, where they can see and feel the ornaments in person. Sure, anyone can purchase ornaments online, but being able to see and feel one in person really goes a long way in convincing people why they should want it for their tree.
B2B event marketing is the opportunity to really drive home the content you’ve been providing your target market throughout your marketing campaign. When you participate in B2B event marketing, you can give your customers the opportunity to see and feel and interact with your product. They’ve been researching your product extensively online and through peer recommendations, but in order to truly understand it, they need to see it in person before making a final decision, and events are their opportunity to do so. Because each tradeshow, conference, or webinar in which you participate is different from one another, B2B event marketing can take on different roles in your marketing strategy depending on what your priorities are.
Events typically play a strong role in creating lead generation, building brand awareness, and go a long way in customer engagement, since events are a few of the rare times your business can interact in person with your customers.
Strategically use Event Marketing to Build Business
Ok, so at this particular Ornament Exchange party, you’ve brought one of your handmade owls, because you’re looking to start selling similar styles. By bringing your owl, this party is now an opportunity to build business. Everyone at the party wants an ornament, and more than likely, if they really like your owl, they would be willing to buy others from you as well. Look at that, you have a lead! And even better, that lead will probably tell others, resulting in even more leads for you.
There are several ways to use event marketing to build business. Many marketers tend to focus on tradeshows, conferences, exhibitions, and webinars, but there’s nothing to say that another kind of event isn’t the most effective strategy for your business. However, like with any marketing plan, when strategizing events, it’s best to look at where your target market is, and hit them multiple times throughout the year at several events. By constantly being at the forefront of their mind, and providing them with plenty of content for their research, by the time they meet with you in person, they’ll be much closer to their end decision, giving you the best opportunity to show why your product is best for their business.
A great example of a company using events to further their business is Tripwire. During a recent major tradeshow, Tripwire used zombie-infused creative to draw in people to their booth. Before the show, they sent out a Zombie Conference Survival Guide, and at the show, had an artist draw zombie caricatures of visitors, which gave booth employees ample time to talk to the visitors as they sat for their portrait. Not only did the event exceed the company’s lead goal, but many visitors ended up using their Tripwire-branded caricatures as their social media profile pictures, further extending Tripwire’s brand reach.
Integrating events into your B2B marketing plan can be an important strategy. Because the buying cycle is so long in B2B, it’s important to get in front of your customers as much as possible to provide them with the best experience. Whether you decide webinars are the way to go, or you get the most bang for your buck at tradeshows, B2B event marketing will go a long way in capturing your customers. Just like at the Ornament Exchange party, being exposed to your product in person might be the final step needed for them to make the end purchase.
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