Your B2B Event and Digital Marketing: a Match made in Heaven

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Yes, I love events. They are possibly the best tool in the B2B Marketer’s arsenal. Especially when your B2B audience is smaller, your proposition and customer journey more complex, events can be the platform to get the best value for your marketing dollar.

Events have the physical dimension of face to face contact. Digital will never be able to deliver this level of interaction. It is an opportunity to meet your customers and prospects and draw them (and your sales team) away from their office lives. But the best value is delivered by the audience itself: no better selling pitch than your customer talking to your prospect about your product over a drink!

I wouldn’t be sharing this declaration of love if there would not be a digital angle. The great thing about events is that you can stretch their marketing value over a long period of time – prior, during and following the physical event itself. Here’s why:

  1. Announcement and Save the Date
    Announcing your event has 2 main objectives: first, to announce what’s coming and why it is valuable to your customer or prospect. Two, to get the date in busy schedules. Remember this last bit: from this moment until the date of the event you will be competing for time in customer and prospect calendars.
  2. Tentative program
    This should be more than a teaser. It should give a good sense of the value your bringing. It doesn’t need to be bullet proof at this point, though.
  3. Kick-ass item
    Do you have a fantastic keynote speaker? Introduce him or her with a short interview. Are you introducing a new product or service? Show a breath taking teaser (please note the term “breath taking”). This is your definitive selling point, making sure your audience highlights the event in yellow in their agenda.
  4. Who’s coming
    By now, you will have quite a list of people who have signed up for your event. Share a list of companies and organizations attending. It will trigger people who have not registered yet. These people will see their peers and, yes, their competitors. Respect people’s privacy: DO NOT share names of individuals (other than speakers).
  5. Practical stuff
    Repeat the time and date of the event. Share logistical info: which venue, how to get there, where to park, will you send them home with their bellies filled with nice food, etc. From now on you need to include this info (or a link pointing to it) in every message prior to the event.
  6. D-Day minus 1
    The day before the event. This is the final reminder of all the great stuff your bringing tomorrow. Also, an opportunity to share your final program and any logistical changes.
  7. Event
    During the event you may want to use “live” channels like your blog and social media to signal to the world what their missing. Don’t overdo it: report on valuable moments like key insights delivered.
  8. Follow up
    This is the echo of your event. Use it to thank your audience for joining you and to share content presented during the day. This is also an excellent opportunity to cater to a softer dimension of B2B marketing: people love to see pictures of themselves and their peers having a good time during your event en the drinks afterwards.
  9. Your next event
    Chances are that the audience of this last event are the spot-on audience for your next event. This is your opportunity to give them a heads-up!

I’ve added an indication of which channel to use at which point in your message cycle.

Email

You own this channel. If your audience has given you permission to connect to them via email, use it! I will continue the stress the superior value of email in B2B communications until every B2B marketer will stop disagreeing! Note: during registration, never forget to ask for the email address of your customer or prospect.

Blog

The main function of your blog is to act as the back up to your email. This is where you can refer people to for all information about the event. The easiest way to fill your blog is simply to copy the content of earlier emails to your blog page. In the follow up, this is where you can host speaker presentations and a gazillion pictures of the event. Note: this should be the place where people land when they Google for your event.

Social

In turn, your social channels amplify what you do on your blog. Be sensitive to the knowledge needs of your social audience as they may not be a 100% match with the needs of the target audience of your event. Don’t annoy people on Twitter or LinkedIn on practical stuff around your event.

External media

This is the container for all channels not under your control. They include trade magazines and websites, external blogs and external social channels. As always, when you try to mobilize these channels, be mindful of the need of the editor to excite their audience just as much as you do.

Events take a lot of time to prepare: from finding the venue and organizing the logistics to building a program that will make your audience see it was worth their valuable time. Digital marketing tactics give you a way to stretch the experience and optimize the value of your event.

And don’t forget: enjoy your event!

 

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