As discussed in the first blog in this series, contemporary customers are looking for more than a purely transactional relationship with your brand – they want to interact with you. It's true. Part of that relies on creating interesting and consistent content for your audience to engage with (blogs, videos, interviews, ebooks, photos) but, as an extension to your inbound marketing for events, it also involves building a community. Establishing a community will help retain customer loyalty amongst the glut of event marketing competitors all clamouring for attention, as well as attract the "right" kind of new customer. A community is a two-way conversation. A living, breathing thing that's interactive and social. Ok so there will always be some bystanders in the crowd that just watch and listen - but many will also participate and share, which is where the community weapon really plays out.
What should my B2B community look like?
The size of your community and the frequency of engagement doesn’t really matter, but quality and tone of engagement is paramount. In the world of B2B event marketing, your community is likely to be a niche interest group that feels passionate about what you do.
Your community should be engaged with and attached to you, your events and other like-minded peers. The internet, and social media in particular, offers a wealth of opportunities for your community to grow regardless of geographic boundaries, with the common interest likely to be topic-led. In simple terms, your community is your fan club. Yes, you really do have one! Your community should enable you to build and maintain a relationship with your fans outside of the event-specific marketing messaging.
How do I build a B2B community?
In an ideal world you would create your own personalised place for interaction and discussion. That way you can build your own database of members and leads and have flexibility and control in the set up. You might be thinking this whole community lark sounds rather labour-intensive and expensive, but it doesn't have to be. A simple approach to building a B2B community is to either join an existing forum or to create one via established social media networks - such as creating a LinkedIn group. However you approach the task of building your community, be consistent, focus on quality of content and how you can add value and don’t be a control freak. It’s essential that communities and the conversations that happen are organic and not policed by you.
What are the benefits of building a B2B community for events?
We know it sounds kind of fluffy, but the thing that community building brings you that no other SEO or web marketing effort will do is relationships with actual, live human beings.
Events and conference companies who build an effective community, rather than simply running event-by-event "push marketing" campaigns will truly see the benefits. These include:
Higher retention and repeat purchasing from community members.
Brand loyalty and advocacy from your community.
Becoming a real interactive brand/person to influencers, peers, current and potential customers.
Qualitative information and audience insight that will prove invaluable for market research and the development of future events.
Are you driving a B2B community?
Tell us about any great event or B2B communities that you are part of, driving or perhaps thinking about launching. Do you have any learnings to share or are you still on the fence? You shouldn't be! It really isn't difficult to get started - just start small.
Download our ebook and get your hands on the the rest of the events industry predictions.
This is the second event marketing prediction in a series of blog posts inspired by our new ebook, The Most Talked about Predictions for the Conference and Events Industry for the Near Future. Check out the first blog in the series. Next blog post coming soon!
Image credit: Ian Sane