Last week we looked at how running an event could kill your B2B inbound marketing efforts. This week, we're going to come at the topic from a different angle and explore how you go about leveraging your existing audience to run great B2B events. Done right, this works just like the flower and the butterfly. Both get something out of it, no damage is done, everyone's happy.
This article shows you how you can leverage your existing engaged brand audience and create a successful event using just the people you already know. The idea is that this is done cleverly and with a light touch, inbound marketing mentality so you actually enhance your existing relationships by doing the event, not stretch or damage them.
So, the first thing you need to do to run great B2B events is to start thinking like an events professional...
It's not just what you know, it's who you know.
It sounds obvious but events are a people game. So you need to stop thinking in terms of customers and prospects and start thinking about people on a more individual level so you can start allocating them to potential roles in your event.
- Speakers: These guys are people who you know love sharing what they know. They're experts in their field and they love your brand.
- Contributors: They're similar to your speaker profile, just a little less comfortable being the centre of attention. They'll help you out with all sorts of input on event content, format and more.
- Advocates: They're not renowned experts, but they do love your brand. These loyal, passionate folks will want your event to succeed and will help you spread the word and add credibility to your messaging.
- Audience members: This is your biggest group but it doesn't mean everyone. Just the customers and prospects you know well enough to know they'll probably be interested.
Don't forget to ring fence portions of your audience that aren't suited to the event for whatever reason. Perhaps the topic isn't for them, they might be at a crucial point in the sales cycle or perhaps you just don't have a deep enough relationship with them to do much more than send them a single message letting them know that it's happening if they're interested. You need to protect these guys as you don't want to damage potential future relations.
Connect like a pro.
Savvy B2B event marketers are all over inbound marketing and rely more heavily on channels like social media than they do on email.
- Content before connection: Events are ideally suited to content marketing because content gives you the opportunity to provide a "taster" of the event before people commit time in their diaries to attending. So make sure you have a couple of juicy bits of content ready to support your event before you start connecting with your would-be audience.
- Go where people are: If your audience is generally more engaged on Twitter than LinkedIn, then it's likely the same will hold true for your events. Engaging in conversations that are already happening is a better way to tune your audience in to your event and the content you produce around it than firing outbound mailings and calls at them.
- Interaction over promotion: If you invite people in and encourage them to interact with your event and content rather than just projecting your messaging, they're more likely to feel invested in the event and want to be a part of it. Take a look at this and other event insider hacks in our recent interview with a highly successful eventrepreneur who sells out his events in seconds.
- Remarket with care: One of the key takeaways from #INBOUND16 was smart remarketing. That is making sure that you use remarketing intelligently with exclusion logic so you don't annoy people. Check out the example below:
Rocking it on site and after the event.
- Work those relationships: On site you have the opportunity to capitalise on all the hard work you were doing before the event. And this doesn't stop at letting your sales team get loads of face time with key prospects. Be generous with your acknowledgement of contributions from your speakers, contributors and advocates. Get to know the connections they brought with them. Make yourself open to all the introductions that might come your way. Events are bursting with opportunity to deepen and expand your network of connections with your audience.
- Build your audience: Did your guests bring their guests? Get to know them and get them signed up for your blog. Do they know people who might like an event such as this? Secure the invitation. Offer juicy bits of free content to attendees who are prepared to introduce it to like minded colleagues you don't know so well. Take every chance to connect with more people who fit your target profile.
- Content, content, content: Events naturally general a heap of fresh content. All you need to do is capture it. Audio and video recordings are great source content and can be repurposed a tonne of different ways. You could get an entire quarter of not an entire year's worth of content from one event.
- Ride the buzz: After an event people are at their most energised and positive when it comes to the topic and your brand. Captalise on that buzz and redouble your efforts at social media engagement. Conversations will flow more easily and vibrantly now than at any other time. Content will be more readily shared by attendees. Ride the wave.
So, hopefully you can now see how you can successfully leverage an engaged audience to run great B2B events, all the while actually enhancing your existing relationships. If you'd like to learn more about building that community year round, you might want to check out these great examples or download our e-book: