A B2B event, if done well, can be a very effective marketing, promotional and reputation management tool, but the key to a successful event is that the attendee walks away from it with something of value to their business - a 'gift'.
This 'gift' has to have an intellectual or opportunistic value, in other words the attendee needs to have learnt something related to their industry that will help their business grow and/or be introduced to someone or something that will open up a door to a new opportunity.
As someone who has worked in marketing and B2B events for a number of years my top tips are:
- Find a 'complimentary' partner or even multiple partners to run the event with. This will add to the richness of the content and also help with the costs and access a wider previously untapped audience.
- Avoid the Powerpoint 'overview' or 'sales pitch', this is the quickest way to turn your audience off. Excite your audience through beneficially rich and innovative content, making a subtle but respected mark by hosting it - they are more likely to seek you out if they need you at a later date.
- Plan far ahead, ideally a minimum of a 3 month lead in time for a workshop, 9 months to a year for a conference.
- Don't let the event get lost like a moment in time, extend its shelf life. For example use the event as a platform for publicity or capture 'bites' for use on your digital platforms perhaps as podcasts or testimonials.
- You don't need a large budget to run an event that is going make an impression. For example with the recent GDPR issue, many commercial businesses across the UK teamed up with law firms to offer free GDPR workshops. I witnessed good attendance and participation at a number of these and businesses were able to access valuable advice 'on tap'.
List the event on one of the many free online B2B event calendars, including Eventbrite and our very own Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Hub. The right sites offer further publicity; help with SEO; manage reputation and in some cases offer free event admin tools.
- No matter how small or short the event, always create a networking opportunity for the attendees to talk to each other in a relaxed environment - for some this is what they came for, particularly at specific industry events where they want to meet like-minded people and exchange best practice.
- Research other B2B event dates to ensure your event does not clash with others, particularly when there is a national trade show running and you have specifically targeted that sector yourself.
Whether it's a 'bells and whistles' conference or a focused industry led seminar, in my humble opinion I think running an event is one of the most effective and rewarding marketing tool for all parties involved