B2B Events – What Does Demand Generation Have to Do with It?

We love events …attending them at least.  Running them is another matter as that involves painstaking detail, budgets from HELL, venue chaos and any number of small nightmares. But attending them…well that is usually just great. Great until you come back to the office and have 200 emails and voice mails from people (vendors) you have not met.

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The idea behind integrating events into an overall Demand Generation Strategy is something that most marketers believe in. However, it seems they are not actually building events into the plans and executing as needed in order for them to be effective. If they were – you would not receive those 200 emails post- event or those follow-up calls from sales when you probably don’t welcome them.

How to integrate events into a Demand Generation Strategy?

Ideal Buyer Profile: Know your ideal customers. What does your ideal customer profile look like? What are the various personas who are involved in the buying process at your ideal customer? What do they read? Where do they get their information from? What events do they attend or blogs do they read? Before you can decide what events to sponsor or even attend, you need to know who your buyer is. In the March 31, 2014 blog post by Tony Zambito, he shares his view on why CMOs should care about buyer insight and buyer personas. It all comes back to doing everything you can to understand more about your buyer so you can connect better with them.

Timing: Look at your event schedule and find out where and how these events will help you better connect with your buyers and customers. If the events don’t help you Engage, Nurture or Convert your buyers – don’t attend and please, don’t sponsor. It just won’t be relevant for you or the attendees.

Content: Content is everything for events – it can make or break an event. Relevant, timely messaging with strong, engaging content that is consistent with the other components of your Demand Generation Program that is delivered in a provocative way – helps connect with buyers and start a conversation. Marketers need to remember that content is not a tactical campaign. It’s just part of the way in which we deliver the message.

Program: Rather than focus on one and done campaigns, think about a program.  Why? A campaign indicates a tactical action focused on an asset or an event, whereas a program is ongoing, perpetual and “always on” and synchronized to the buyer and their buying patterns. A program is what needs to be built to deliver relevant messaging to your buyer throughout the Buyer’s Journey.

Demand Generation Strategy: A fully integrated Demand Generation Strategy has to be multi-channel as buyers often times consume content in a variety of ways.  One of these channels may be events. When developing a strategy, do not focus on the tactics or channels first.  Start with developing insights into your buyers, developing and mapping the content to the buyers purchase path and then determine the channels that will be used to deliver the content.

Event marketing is much more than picking an event, deciding your event message and creating a tactical campaign pre and post event to get some downloads or more names for your database. It’s about integrating the event into your overall Demand Generation Strategy as a means to continue the dialogue with your buyer. Events are just another piece of the Demand Generation Strategy, they are not a Strategy.

Author: Erika Goldwater, CIPP/US @erikawg Director, Marketing for ANNUITAS

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