Your Next B2B Event: Make It a Team Effort
When you think about a great business event, you might think of delicious food, a nice venue, or any freebies you received. Perhaps you met some new individuals, and exchanged business cards. What happens next? The purpose of B2B events (apart from providing a welcoming environment and enjoyable time for attendees) is to provide a setting to create new working relationships, nurture current ones, or close pending deals. If you’re ready to leave your next event’s planning solely to your event planner, then you should consider the following: Sales, marketing, and content teams all play a role in throwing a successful B2B event.
What is the purpose of your event? Are you launching a new product, looking to meet new business prospects, or celebrate a milestone with the industry? With a goal in mind to guide your event planning, your business will be able to take note of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the occasion’s level of success. Depending on what you’re looking to achieve, you’ll find a list of must-haves to include – whether it be speakers, exhibits, industry representatives, or demonstrations.
Attendees may seem like a make-or-break factor, but it’s up to your company to decide how to engage with them. Strong engagement levels rely on content, communication, and follow-ups. Again, your event planner can’t do it alone. Here is where your whole team comes into play:
- Consider where your sales team stands. Are there a number of deals that have been pending for months? Why is that? Is it possible that meeting your prospects face-to-face will yield a better result?
- Make sure your team is on the same page. Reiterate your company’s goals throughout the planning process, and demonstrate how a successful event will assist with achieving said goals. Your employees shouldn’t be seat-fillers; they should actively be engaging attendees for new opportunities, or strengthening existing partnerships.
- Marketing the event. Early-bird registration offers and updates of what’s ahead will pique attendees’ interests. Promoting the event on all social channels (and perhaps at prior events) will create buzz and a sense of urgency. Consider your audience and their needs; what are they expecting from your company, or looking to achieve from being present at your event?
- If this isn’t a members-only event, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that those you had not originally targeted may want to attend. This is a great opportunity for you. They’ve done their homework, and want to assess your company in person. A warning, though: While some may believe “the more, the merrier” is best, taking a look at job titles or which executives are worth targeting can save the event from becoming a bloated bash. Is it worth inviting 50 people from the same company if only five can be deemed the true decision-makers of the group?
- Communications throughout the event. Ensure that signage on-site is clear. On a more personal level, are you doing anything to engage attendees while they are present? Are you sending up-to-the-minute alerts, or is this necessary? It depends on the scale of your event. A dinner of 15 people may not need alerts, but a three-day expo could find this extremely helpful.
- Again, depending on the scale of the event, the use of a dedicated hashtag will invite attendees to follow along, and allow others a glimpse at what they’ve missed. This is especially useful if you’re including keynote speakers or demonstrations. Maybe those following along will want to be at your next event?
- And yes, ensure that any food, music, and technology fit in seamlessly. You won’t want an outage or poor audio to put a damper on the event.
Once the event is over, give your guests time to soak in the experience. Allow them enough time to travel home (should they have come a great distance), and think about all that they have discussed or learned. A week or two is optimal. From there, follow up with them, whether it be for feedback purposes – or more importantly – to close the deal.
Your company should also take the time to assess the event based on ROI – this could take awhile based on pending partnerships. But how many leads were generated? How promising were the prospects present? Perhaps a massive sale was made, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Reflecting on how your company could improve for next time is an important step to take and will assist your future planning efforts.
You may find that a single event isn’t enough – you might wish to run smaller-scale events throughout the year, or a huge annual party. Every business has different goals, budgets, and timeframes to plan around. It’s up to your team (and not just an event planner!) to determine the path towards success.