Business marketers spend over $20 billion on tradeshow marketing each year and another $15 on corporate events such as roadshows and client conferences. Most business marketers don’t know what they get for their money.
Planning, measurement, and a strategic focus are the keys to achieving maximum value. You must first consider the ten fundamentals that will drive successful event marketing.
A business event is a hybrid of sales and marketing activities. It combines elements from selling, lead generation Public Relations, and research. Business events are the closest thing to selling you can do in marketing. They are similar to combining a PR and advertising campaign with a sales call. You’ll lose some leverage if you consider them “sales” or “marketing.”
Events must be a part of your marketing strategy. They should be viewed in the context of your entire go-to-market plan. If they are viewed as a mere tactic or something, we do “every year because that’s what we always did,” they quickly become an expense. Marketers need to consider the whole marketing mix – the annual program – and fit the business event where it will have the most significant impact. A business event may not be the best way to achieve a specific business goal.
The right target audience is critical. An event’s success is determined by the number of visitors and their potential as clients and prospects. A great booth at a tradeshow is worthless if it’s in the wrong hands. Tradeshow selection is a task that requires your full attention. Plan your participation in a business event to maximize the potential customers and reduce the non-prospects. It would be best if you were very specific about who you want to meet and the conversation you wish to have.
Set specific, clear objectives. Determine the metrics you will use to measure your success. It should be obvious, but many business events are managed without due diligence. Business events have a reputation for being “difficult” to measure. It is no more difficult to measure than any other form of marketing. Measurement of events is essential.
Do not ask an event to perform on its weak points. For example, tradeshows are inefficient in raising awareness. It is an expensive way to create a mailing. You will find more appealing options in your business marketing toolkit if that is what you want. Business events are not an excellent way to keep up with your competitors. You can be proud if your competitors have more impressive booths, giant footprints, or splashy sponsorships. Your business event marketing efforts are likely to produce better results for you than theirs.
A business event is just a few short days of a multi-month marketing program. What you see at the event is only the tip of the spear. Some companies believe they can get a booth together and attend the tradeshow. Remember that your marketing campaign is complete, and the event you hear is just a tiny part.
Promote the business event. You cannot rely solely on show management for all business opportunities that may arise at a show. The pre-show promotion is perhaps the most underutilized opportunity for tradeshow marketing. The correct target is identified and invited to meet you in person. To get people to attend corporate events, you need promotions.
Follow up and capture your contacts from business events. The real business happens after the event. Prioritize quality over quantity when attending a tradeshow. Lead management and capture is a complex process that requires diligence and attention. Stop now if you do not have a company lead management strategy. Build one before investing another dollar into business event marketing.
The key to success is the people. Business events are a face-to-face medium that can be effective. The leverage gained comes from the people on both sides. The key to success is to target the right audience and convince them – and only them – to interact with you during the business event. It is also about choosing, training, and motivating strong staff members to interact with the audience.
A business event is a tool to achieve business goals. Do not overlook the forest. The logistics, the many details, the glamour of the event, and the entertaining hospitality are all part of managing an event. These activities are just the trees – they are only a means of achieving a goal. The forest is the result of the business and the planning behind it. You will miss out on the power of event marketing if you only focus on the trees.