Business to Business Event Marketing is a tried and established route to increase your business leads and sales. If you’re business involves selling to other business, then event marketing should definitely be an integral part of your overall marketing plan as much as direct sales is. Event marketing is extensively done by all large B2B companies and is a highly effective option that could be considered by small business enterprises too.
The key advantage of conducting an event is that you are in a room filled with your potential customers and being able to interact with them one on one. They are there because you called them. They are there to listen to you tell them how you can solve their problem. If you are considering doing your first B2B event, you can simply follow the below checklist.
- Set your B2B event goal
Is your goal to generate serious enquiries which your sales team can follow up and close or is your goal to build a thought leadership amongst your target audience? Setting up what you want to achieve in advance is a good idea as that will determine several aspects of the event that you intend to organize.
- Potential Attendee Database
At the heart of a good b2b event is ensuring a proper attendee turnout. But the starting point is to make sure that you have ready access to a qualified potential attendee database. You can access your internal records such as ex customers and prospects in the sales pipeline. In case you do not have sufficient databases, you could either have your event management agency develop it for you or buy/rent lists from a professional database management firm.
The thumb rule you must apply when deciding how much database you need is to figure out how many attendees you would like attending your event. The general rule of the thumb is that you must plan to have at least 6 times the number of planned attendees as the database count. This is because not everyone you invite will come.
- Decide on the event content
Success or failure of your event in terms of meeting your goal objective is the content of the event. The messaging that you will deliver to your attendees and the format in which the delivery will be made can make a big difference in success or failure. Will your content be educative or will it be a product demonstration? Avoid all forms of hard selling during an event. The attendees will not come to listen to a sales spiel. But they will come if you’re content promises to address a solution to a problem of theirs. Therefore tailor your content to the solution required.
How will the content be delivered? Will there be a simple presentation or will you be using video as well? Who will deliver the content- you or will you have someone experienced in speaking to audience deliver the content to you?
- Event Agenda & Timeline
Is it an evening event or a day time event? You need to factor in whether your potential attendees will be able to take an off to attend a day event. How long will the event last? It’s always good to round up every event with a networking cocktail. Would there be any entertainment taking place? You need to factor in this as an additional cost element if you are considering doing an entertainment. Some good entertainment options for a business event are stand up shows or motivational speakers. Avoid flashy entertainment when conducting an event for a business audience.
You need to have your agency prepare a minute to minute agenda with the event flow well in advance to the event. It will help identify any gaps and also serve as a good checklist to both your team as well as the agency team
- Hire an event management agency
The temptation to do an event on one’s own is extremely high. After all, it’s no rocket science to conduct a business event. But hiring an agency will help you immensely as they will take the load of your shoulders in organizing everything. The typical role an event agency would play is
- Selecting an appropriate venue and negotiating for the space
- Coordinating in helping selecting the right F&B
- Developing a set of creative designs for you in line with your content messaging. This would include creative for Mailer design, backdrop, event standees, lanyard design and other small collateral designs.
- Hiring of audio visual equipment for the event and coordinating their set up in line with what your content delivery format and requirement are
- Hiring of any entertainment option that you are considering
- Database development, sending out invites and conducting regular RSVP calling to ensure planned attendee target is met.
- On-site registration desk management
- On-site event management
- Feedback collection and report preparation
If you are a large organization, you would probably end up doing much of the above yourself. However as a small business enterprise, your time is much better spent in growing your business than on this.
- Create your invitation, send it and begin RSVP calling
Your invitation to the event is the first thing that your prospects will see and therefore has to be designed well. These days’ email is the preferred mode of sending invites. The call to action could be as simple as a reply to or a call in number or a more complex online registration form depending on your budget.
You must also set into motion a RSVP call out system where trained event callers either hired by you or by the agency call out to the prospects to understand their inclination to attend the event. This will give you advance warning whether you will be over booked or under booked at the event.
- Conducting the event
While conducting an event, you must make sure to have a registration desk. If you have called media also, ensure that there is a separate media desk manned by someone experienced in handling media queries. Ensure the visiting cards are collected and matched against your invitee list. It’s a good idea to give out event ID cards on a lanyard to all attendees. This will help during networking.
At the event as the business owner, you should make a point of addressing the audience. Be casual and avoid speaking from the speaker podium if you’re comfortable being out there on stage alone without any support. Most good speakers rarely use the speaker podium.
Your agency should have their cue sheet ready to enable them to adjust the sound and light setting from the console basis the event flow that you decided earlier. If you are having multiple speakers, make sure that every speaker has tested out his or her presentation or content well in advance before the event. It is best if all content is stored in one single laptop and laptop is tested.
It is also a good idea to do a dry run before the event so that everyone including your team and the agency are clued in, and on the same page. Nothing makes the audience laugh or smile with evil glee than to see someone fumbling on stage trying to get something to work.
- Post event networking
Your post event networking is as critical a component as the rest. This is where your actual work starts in terms of generating serious enquiries. So don’t be in a rush to hit the bar! If you’re content was good as was its delivery, you can be sure of a steady stream of attendees heading your way. Have plenty of business cards and if possible an assistant with you. He can keep track of who you met, what the discussion was and what the next action point is.
- Post event feedback and follow up
An event is not over until you have got feedback. Usually feedback forms are given at the time of registration and collected back after the event. Your feedback should be content oriented rather than sales oriented, although it’s okay to ask a few sales related queries. But it’s far more critical to ask questions relating to your content so that you can improve on it. Have your agency collate and share the feedback with you.
Make sure that you have had the event video graphed. Once the event is over you should be sending a thank you note to all attendees within 48 hours. You could also upload the video of your event on YouTube and provide a link to all those who did not attend with a ‘sorry to miss you’ mail.
Business events are a great way for small business enterprises to play in a level playing field with the big boys. As a marketing tool, it’s a great way to generate serious enquiries, get you up close and personal with your prospects and at the same time it’s certainly a completely affordable medium for small business enterprises.
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