Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has since been updated.
If you want your business to be successful in today’s digital-first landscape, having an effective digital marketing strategy is crucial. Marketers need to go where their audience is and increasingly, that place is online. But that doesn’t mean you should discount traditional marketing activities like events and print advertising, especially as event marketing and interactive print ads become part of larger omnichannel brand experiences.
Click to tweet: 80% of marketers believe live events are critical to their company’s success (Source: Bizzabo).
Events still provide valuable opportunities to showcase your brand, engage meaningfully with potential customers and connect with partners, thought leaders and industry leaders. If you aren’t hosting or attending events in your industry, you could be missing out on benefits that only an in-person experience can provide.
Here are four reasons why you should make events a more meaningful part of your overall B2B marketing strategy:
Brand is one of the few remaining marketing currencies businesses have available to promote their products. A clearly defined, recognizable brand is something every successful business should have but many struggle to cultivate.
In the strictest sense of the word, brand is defined as a name, term, design or symbol that identifies and distinguishes you from your competitors. More generally, your brand is the set of expectations customers have, the stories you tell and the relationships you build, all of which contribute to your company’s identity. These key aspects of your brand also determine whether someone chooses your solution over a competitor’s.
The majority of brand building occurs online in the form of social media, websites, blogs, content offerings, advertisements, webinars and more. Each medium is a platform to tell your target audience who you are and what you have to offer. While inbound marketing reigns supreme, events remain one of the most effective ways to communicate your value and build your brand recognition (hint: these are actually one in the same).
If we look at new technology being used in marketing, like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, the reason for this becomes clear. When it comes to our audience, short attention spans and instant gratification are very real challenges that B2B businesses must overcome. These tools provide a more immediate, immersive and personalized experience with a view to capturing more audience attention, staying top of mind and creating a meaningful experience.
Marketers are looking for ways to use technology to cut through the anonymity of online engagement, but the answer isn’t necessarily new and digital – it’s proven and in-person. Events are the perfect opportunity to maximize your potential to connect with your audience, leveraging the speed and efficiency of technology and the high personalization of in-person exchanges.Lead generation
One of the more immediate benefits of events is lead generation. Events often generate a high volume of both marketing and sales-ready leads, and the return on investment (ROI) is simpler to calculate than some digital marketing initiatives.
The quality of event leads can vary depending on several factors. Whether you are organizing or exhibiting at an event, there are a couple of strategies you can use to not only attract a high volume of leads, but quality ones as well:
- Promote your event to existing customers as well as potential customers in established (verticals or regions that represent your current customer base) and emerging markets (those that represent large growth opportunities) to make your event an effective lead source for Sales.
- Include forms in your registration process to learn more about your attendees’ role, business challenges, interests and more. This will provide you with valuable insights to improve future communications and events by personalizing your messages and offerings.
- Create your own omnichannel brand experience by incorporating technology at your events, including an event app, live streaming and video, augmented reality (think Snapchat filters) and other digital platforms and tools.
- Prompt attendees to make a purchase at or shortly after the event by providing incentives. Use exclusive promotions with time restrictions to target sales-ready leads and create a sense of urgency.
- Use promotions and contests to generate traffic at your table or booth and attract new leads, engage with potential customers, create buzz around any recent news and discuss the value of your offering.
- Use landing pages and forms to capture lead intelligence right then and there. This will save you from collecting and keeping track of business cards, and manually entering them into your CRM later.
- Create a custom workflow for event leads with relevant information and personalized offerings. A targeted campaign will move leads through the buyer’s journey much faster than a generic one, helping your Sales and Marketing teams shorten sales cycles and hit targets.
Ensuring your team is present at events provides your organization with a beat on the latest industry news and announcements, particularly those from your competitors. Events are often used as venues to launch new products or announce channel partnerships and collaborations. Market awareness, including knowledge about your competitors’ product developments and marketing initiatives, is a fundamental part of an effective marketing strategy. Knowing what the competitive landscape looks like enables you to develop a marketing strategy that accounts for competitor activities and responds to them in an appropriate way.
Virtually every event in the imaging industry includes networking opportunities. Depending on the size of the event, this can be networking breaks and meals or larger activities such as golf tournaments, award banquets and cocktail receptions. These interludes can provide a bit of a reprieve from content-heavy sessions throughout the day, but don’t just think of them as a break. Use these networking activities as an opportunity to make connections and build partnerships with other businesses in the industry.
In increasingly competitive markets, it can be valuable to have mutually beneficial partnerships with organizations in or on the periphery of your field. You can leverage each other’s experiences and knowledge to build better solutions and, ultimately, provide your customers with more value. Your brand is largely defined by what others say about your company and your product, not what your logo looks like or what kind of solution you offer. Providing exceptional service and support can help you create positive brand equity, turn customers into promoters and drive sales.
Looking for ways to set your business apart? Register for ECi Connect, a three-day conference designed to help small and medium-sized businesses excel. This year’s conference is being held in the Big Easy, November 5-7, and features over 30 general education sessions as well as product-specific training for ECi solutions. Connect and collaborate with peers, learn how to take your business to the next level and see what New Orleans has to offer!