If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably considered running an event at some point. You might even have run events. Whether it was a big launch event or an intimate gathering, did it drive the results you wanted?
Events are a powerful lead generation tool which, when used effectively, can help educate prospects and move them further down your pipeline. This is especially true if your product or service is high-ticket, with a longer sales cycle.
For a high-ticket company, trust is everything. Seeing your service, your ideas or your product in person can be the difference between converting the prospect or losing them. The old adage holds true – seeing is believing.
Despite all this, few people run effective events or any events at all for that matter. It’s sometimes due to a fear that ‘nobody will turn up’ and sometimes due to a lack of understanding of how to run a successful event.
Below we explore how events can be the focal point of a wider marketing campaign, offer ideas on filling your event with the right audience, share real-life examples of successful B2B events, and discuss post-event strategies to drive leads.
Integrating Events into Your Marketing Campaign
Events should not be viewed as standalone marketing initiatives but rather as an integral part of a broader marketing campaign. This can be achieved by:
Creating a strong pre-event marketing strategy:
Too many companies take for granted how hard it is to:
Get sign ups to an event
Ensure sign ups actually attend on the day
In our experience, events which are free to attend will suffer an average dropout rate of 50%. That’s 50% of all the people who sign up, won’t actually attend. It also means you need double the number of people to sign up, than you actually want to attend your event.
So your marketing strategy pre-event is absolutely critical – is it designed to reach enough people? Does it engage them enough to ensure they attend?
There are a number of pre-event marketing activities that can ensure you gain enough sign ups and guarantee more attendees on the day:
Create a compelling event structure and title
No matter what business you’re in, there’s no reason for your event to be boring – the worst thing it can be is vanilla, so make sure it packs a punch. Create an event you would actually want to attend.
Some events are naturally easy to promote, such as our event for Lick Me I’m Delicious. A superb and wacky brand with an amazing service, we played on the outrageous branding and called that particular event ‘Lick Me Live’ – which the client loved.
But even if your business isn’t the sexiest, there’s no excuse. You can still create a compelling event.
Take our launch party for FOMO Mortgages, as an example. By collaborating with local brands, including a gin distillery, boat charter company and a live music agency we created a truly memorable and social media friendly launch party, while raising thousands for charity.
Donate to attend
If you don’t want to charge for a ticket consider asking sign ups to donate whatever they want to attend the event.
This serves a dual purpose, it gives them an emotional reason to attend and it makes you look good by raising money for charity.
You can even ask the charity to support the marketing of the event and prospects will be much more willing to donate than to pay for a ticket which lines your pockets. As mentioned above, we raised nearly £3000 for Henley-on-Thames charity, The Riverside Counselling Service, by asking for a donation to attend the launch of FOMO Mortgages.
Create a robust outreach campaign
In general, we would recommend outreaching to a minimum of 15x the amount of people you need to sign up or 30x the number of people you want to attend your event.
Your quickest sign ups will come from the data you already have – newsletter subscribers, LinkedIn connections, social media followers and your website traffic. So create a solid content and communications plan to outreach to these individuals. That might include some educational content surrounding your event, with a link to sign up as well as the benefits to them specifically if they attend.
Plan this content in advance, so when you launch your campaign, it’s completely coherent and you have enough activity to grab people’s attention and drive them to sign up.
Then, you need to focus on acquiring people who have never heard of you. Events are a great introduction to your brand, especially if it’s fun or highly relevant to the individuals you’re outreaching too.
Some of our favourite cold outreach tactics include highly personalised cold email outreach, LinkedIn outreach and advertising campaigns and collaborations with complementary brands, individuals and charities who can spread the word on your behalf.
Bring in partners
Who has access to your ideal target market? Can you partner with them on the event?
The benefit of this is that your business is exposed to completely new but relevant audiences through a trusted medium i.e. you’re not having to outreach to them completely cold.
For example, if you’re a wealth management firm you might partner with an accountancy firm to help educate each other’s audience on your respective disciplines. You can also share the cost of the event itself, making this a very smart play.
You might also consider working with a guest speaker who is revered by your target market. We helped put hundreds of people into webinars with Henley-on-Thames based business coach, Mark Van Rol, by partnering him with UK Sales Trainer of the Year and best-selling author Andy Bounds.
By using a guest speaker and getting Andy to promote the webinars, Mark positioned himself as a trusted authority within the business coaching space and reached thousands of highly relevant new individuals.
Finally, you might also consider partnering with complementary brands which can add some pizzazz to your event! Sometimes, brands will be willing to help if you are raising money for a cause that is close to their own purpose, such as Hobbs and Eight Ray Music supporting FOMO Mortgages on a complimentary basis. They may also help if you share a target market and you can guarantee you will put their brand in-front of the right people.
*Something to consider!
How are you qualifying prospects? If your event is more intimate in numbers, you don’t want the wrong people in the room. In fact, you don’t want the wrong people in the room full stop. So it’s important to consider how you will qualify sign ups to ensure they are target market. This can be done by asking them to ‘apply to attend’ by filling in a simple form. While this adds ‘friction’ to the process, it ensures you get the right people in the room.
You also need to consider how to structure your event to ensure a great guest experience, things to consider include:
Are you using a videographer/photographer to capture the event to help with your marketing? If so, are they well briefed on what you require content-wise? The content produced in-event can be a truly powerful asset to be used in your marketing going forward.
Are you offering food and drink? If so, does it complement your product or service? If your event is for high-net-worth individuals, don’t feed them crap food and Lambrini…
How do you intend to keep people engaged? Are the speeches too long, do you have a charity raffle or interactive games that can keep guests entertained and in the room. If you can have touchpoints which encourage people to share the event on social media that’s also a bonus.
How do you plan to ‘work the room’? A huge skill is the ability to ensure you meet as many guests as possible and interact with them. It’s worth planning this with your team to ensure you aren’t stuck talking to people for too long and that you have someone who is able to introduce you to new people.
Post-Event Strategy to Drive Leads
The work doesn’t end when your event is over.
An effective post-event strategy is essential for driving leads and building relationships with potential clients. Here’s how you can achieve this:
a. Survey attendees
Ask them what they liked, didn’t like, what they would like to see next time and whether they would like a call to discuss your product or service. Keep the survey short, four questions is enough. This is a non-intrusive way to generate leads and get invaluable insight into your target audience.
Bonus: you can also ask for their view on a certain subject, which can provide you with qualitative data on a key topic. You can use this data to create original, thought-leadership content. We did exactly this for Twenty One Twelve client, ProfitAbility. We used the data collected to create a whitepaper that is used as a lead magnet to generate enterprise level leads.
b. Personalised follow-ups
Email or call attendees personally. It’s no problem to send a generic newsletter with some nice imagery or a link to the video from the event, but reach out to key targets individually too. This can often drive insight, advice and referrals that a survey or generic email won’t provide.
*What about non-attendees?
For sign ups who didn’t attend but still signed up, send a simple ‘sorry you couldn’t make it, how about a call or a coffee?’ These individuals are still interested,but maybe something cropped up which meant they couldn’t attend – do not ignore them.
c. Share event content
Share videos, images, and testimonials from the event on your social media channels, website, and email campaigns to extend your reach and maintain momentum. Make it crystal clear that attendees and partners are welcome to use the imagery or video across their channels too – this just serves to increase your reach!
d. Nurture relationships
Don’t stop nurturing attendees. Long after the event continue to engage with attendees through targeted email campaigns, offering them valuable content, exclusive offers, and updates on your products or services. This helps to build trust and keep your brand top-of-mind for potential clients. Remember, timing is crucial in B2B and professional services, so stay front of mind and eventually you will convert a decent percentage of your audience.
e. Evaluate the event
Analyse the success of your event by measuring key performance indicators such as the number of attendees, leads generated, and social media engagement. Use this information to refine your strategy for future events.
Events can play a pivotal role in your lead generation strategy, providing opportunities to engage with potential clients, showcase your offerings, and establish your brand as a leader in your industry. By integrating events into your broader marketing campaign, targeting the right audience, learning from successful B2B event examples, and implementing a robust post-event strategy, you can maximise the impact of your events and drive leads for your business.
With proper planning, creativity, and a focus on delivering value to attendees, events can serve as a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Whether you’re launching a new product, building brand awareness, or simply looking to connect with potential clients, consider incorporating events into your lead generation strategy to reap the benefits of increased engagement and tangible business results.
Want to explore running your own event? Get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org