Events Are Top Tactic for Marketers – Keep It That Way

Today kicks off the Oracle’s Modern Marketing Experience and it’s sure to be another great event to educate and inspire marketers, share best practices, network and recognize some of our industry’s greatest accomplishments with the Markie Awards. Why is it that over 3,000 marketers will flock to Vegas to attend this event? Why did Dreamforce have 135,000 people register for their event last year? It’s simple. Events can be a very effective in driving demand as part of an overall Demand Generation Strategy.

event effectiveness CMI image                                       *Image via CMI B2B Benchmark Study 2015

According to Content Marketing Institute 2015 B2B Benchmark Study, 69% of study respondents said in-person events are the most effective B2B tactic —five years in a row. This is an important statistic because if a tactic like an event is working to drive demand and marketers can prove it’s working, then it is all about maximizing effectiveness for that tactic. For in-person events, clearly this is the case.

How to maximize event effectiveness? There are many things to consider to help ensure event success, however, fundamentally it comes back to understanding your buyer. If you know what messages resonate with them, if you know how to address and solve their pain points, and if you know how they like to consume content and information, then it comes down to execution.

Take a look at four simple but important tips to ensure successful event execution:

Plan accordingly: This sounds a little silly because of course you need to plan for an in-person event. Whether it is an executive breakfast for 10 or a massive customer event with thousands of attendees like the upcoming Marketo Nation Summit, planning is paramount. However, I cannot overstate the need to plan out both major and minor tasks associated with the event. Everything takes longer than expected from ordering event or booth materials, to creating and printing collateral, to scheduling team members for the event. Little tasks add up and the bigger ones require consideration and multiple stakeholders (product management, PR, sales, support, etc.). Nothing is worse than attending a poorly organized or prepped event – the attendees see it and feel it and it is not a good sign of a solid organization.

Pay attention to the little stuff: Is your demo on a running loop? Forget to do that before you know it the screen saver of your dog or four kids will show up just when your key prospect walks by. What about the password to get into the laptop should it lock? Make sure everyone at the booth has it – and knows it. Make a list of all phone numbers and email address for people working the booth or executives at the event and share with the event team – so when key customer wants to meet with anyone, you can quickly arrange it. The little things matter because it is your first and perhaps only chance to make an impression. If the booth logistics aren’t running smoothly, it’s a bad reflection on your organization.

Over-communicate: The event team might be tired of your emails, but trust me, when they arrive on-site and don’t remember where they need to be, they will thank you. Don’t assume your sales team or customer support team is as well-versed in how to navigate an event as your marketing team. Give the people involved in the event more than ample information on how to be successful at the event. That includes logistics, attire, and especially training for the booth staff.

Training: Training your staff and event team is essential to running and executing a successful event – make the time to do this at least once before the event and then once before the event begins. If you conduct the first training via webinar, record it and send it out to the team or post via Chatter or something similar so the team can access it easily. Right before the event, rally the troops and share the goals and objectives for the overall event and by day. Give lead generation quotas for the day or set other expectations so the team knows exactly what they need to do to achieve success at the event. Don’t assume everyone has the same idea of success – so clearly define how this event will be measured.

An in-person event is an invaluable part of a Demand Generation Strategy. However, the investments required for events can be significant. To maximize event ROI, make sure to think about both the big picture and the little details that can make or break an event. The reason 69% of marketers say in-person events are effective is because it’s an opportunity to truly Engage and connect with our buyers. Done well, events can generate significant ROI and are at the top of my list as the most effective marketing tactic.

Author: Erika Goldwater CIPP/US @erikawg is Vice President, Marketing for ANNUITAS

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