You've spent months, if not years, carefully honing your inbound marketing machine. You've painstakingly tweaked your content, A/B tested your workflows and invested countless hours building trust and relationships with prospects and qualified leads who are now truly worthy of the name.
Then you decide to run an event and risk ruining it all... Find out why and what to do to avoid it.In some ways, events and inbound marketing were made for each other. Certainly events can form a very effective part of your overall inbound strategy, if executed correctly. But quite often we see brands cannibalise otherwise successful inbound marketing programmes, just for the sake of running successful events.
Let's take a look at what causes this.
Why it can all go wrong...
- Events are not products: Unless you're selling fish, your event is likely to have a shorter shelf life than your product. B2B marketers are used to sales cycles that can span months and in some cases years. But with an event you need to gain commitment from your attendees in weeks not years. And that leads to pressure cooker levels of stress and intensity, ultimately resulting in panicky mass mailing and hard sell communications.
- "Our event" not "their event": Aside from the accelerated timescale, events tend to bring out the ego in any brand. It's "your event" and this leads to marketers having a very brand-centric approach ("me, me, me" communications), as opposed to the customer-centric one that dominates their B2B inbound marketing efforts (hopefully).
- Not understanding where events fit in the mix: Events are a middle of the funnel activity. They are intended to strengthen relationships, nurture existing leads, give sales
teams opportunities to engage with the market. But often, marketers don't use adequate targeting and end up repeatedly mailing cold contacts and expecting them to attend.
- An unwillingness to fail: Even the biggest and best events companies cancel or postpone events. There's no shame in it, it's a part of the game. You can't get it 100% right all the time. But B2B marketers are often afraid to do this, perceiving it as a serious failure and pursuing it even though every metric is under performing. You wouldn't think twice about pulling any other campaign that wasn't working, events are just the same.
...and what to do to prevent it.
So, you see how events can present a minefield for even the most dedicated inbound marketer. So, how do you mitigate the risks and stop yourself turning rogue on your own B2B inbound marketing programme?
- Start early: No matter when you start, there's never enough time to promote an event. So give yourself the best chance of success by starting as early as possible and don't be afraid to move your event to a later date in the early stages to give yourself time to produce and promote it properly. No one is going to know you did it.
- Have a persona: Not everyone is going to be interested in your event, so create a buyer persona for the event that represents a subsection of your audience best suited to the event type and content. Don't mail your whole database repeatedly. You want to be trying to recruits qualified leads who are mid-funnel, possibly with a scattering of advocate customers and stranger VIPs.
- Have a plan: Decide what your event communications will be and stick to the plan. You want to be sending 5-6 emails at the most and certainly not stepping up the frequency and intensity of your messages as the event draws in, just because you don't think you've got enough people in the room. If after you've emailed them certain number of times, they do not respond, then it is pretty obvious that something is preventing them from signing up.
- Test your tactics: Event messaging will be quite different from your day to day marketing messages, so you'll need to do some work to refine them just as you have for the rest of your B2B inbound marketing funnel. A/B testing will allow you to try different things without adding to the overall number of communications you send out.
- Stay inbound: Events and inbound marketing were made for each other. Content marketing tactics are super effective when applied to provide a sample of the event content to the prospective audience before they commit to attending.
- Have a plan B: If it's all going wrong, don't be afraid to walk away or postpone your event. It's much better to admit you scheduled your event at the same time as another major show and go back to the drawing board than to risk permanently ruining the relationships you worked so hard to build.
So, you're all set for success with your next event. If you think you could still use a bit more insight and support, do get in touch. We also have some inspirational stories and a great e-book on the 10 most common mistakes in event marketing, which you may find useful: