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Are B2B Events Worth Investing In?

A look at event trends in B2B marketing to help you decide if events are worth the investment

It’s long been said that people buy from people. In an increasingly digital world, how do B2B marketers forge new relationships which can help drive their sales? That’s where the value of B2B events comes to the fore.

In a recent meeting of top B2B marketing professionals, it was discussed that the post-Covid world may look different with virtual events continuing, but that recent in-person events are still essential in driving business sales.

Footfall may seem smaller than usual as sales and marketing budgets remain tight, but the calibre of people attending events is higher than ever. More decision makers and more empowered representatives are hitting the floor at trade shows, making events an essential part of your marketing strategy.

The value of B2B events in numbers

How B2B differs from B2C events

There’s no doubt been a trend towards digital purchases, but drill into the hype and you’ll see that is a strong trend in the B2C sector.

For most B2B companies, their products and services are high value items that need to meet specific requirements of individual customers. As such, B2B sales continue to be driven by more one-to-one contact with a real person (whether that’s over email, phone, webchat or in-person).

There’s also differences in what a B2B company can expect in terms of results to B2C companies attending events: time to conversion, stand footfall and enquiries may look longer or smaller than B2C counterparts, but order value is usually significantly higher.

Different types of B2B events

With so many different formats of B2B events, how do you narrow down what type of event will work for you? In our look at the power of industry events, we’ve provided detail on key B2B event formats including:

  • Large scale exhibitions and trade shows

  • Specialist conferences

  • Industry association events

  • Network community events

  • One-to-one hosted buyer events

  • Roadshows, and

  • Webinars

As well as the formats of events, there’s the actual event theme to consider. Is your product or service more suited to a large, general event such as ‘travel’? Or will you be better served by attending a smaller event with a more specialised theme (like ‘hospitality technology’) or in a key geographical market (such as ‘hotels based in Asia’)?

For most marketers, qualified leads are more important than sheer volume, so be sure the event format and style fits with your objectives. If you’re interested in travel technology events, check out some of our suggestions of B2B events to attend.

How to maximise your B2B event investment

Not every company has the cash to splash on the top exhibitor package at every event, but there’s still a myriad of options at every event to help you promote your company. To maximise your investment across the calendar of B2B events in 2022 and beyond, consider the following:

  • Consider your competitors. Is there an event that your competitors are exhibiting at? It’s worth investigating whether the show is right for you. If you’re unsure, you can always attend and work the floor as an attendee to get a feel for the event and keep an eye on what your competitors are doing!

  • Go where your target buyers are. Know exactly who you are targeting and seek out which events they are attending. Ask your current clients which events they’re going to attend; it’s likely similar companies will be there. Depending on the client, you may be able to work the floor alongside them and have them act as your ambassador to like-minded potential clients.

  • Tell people where you’ll be. The best way to have a busy stand or a full diary of meetings is to tell people where you are. Share details of your stand, speaking slot or attendance on your company and your individual social media channels. Add it to the company blog or event pages. Let your colleagues share with their network. The more, the merrier!

  • Use every opportunity you are offered. If you’ve paid for a sponsorship package that includes items such as a press release, event social posts or advertising in the show guide, make sure you use every item you’ve paid for. Have a clear call to action - whether that be post-show contact or encouraging visitors to your stand. Build a clear message: this should stem from your unique value proposition and help you stand out from your competition.

  • Be bold in your event choices. The world has changed. Don’t feel pressured to keep the same event your company has been exhibiting at since 2010 on your marketing plan - especially if it has never delivered a good ROI before. If you’ve researched where your target buyers will be, and are clear on what your competitors are doing, make the case for an event you may have not been to before.

How to measure the success of B2B Events Like any marketing activity, you need to be able to measure the success of participating in B2B events. Ideally, you’ll have a clear understanding of your objectives before you attend or exhibit at an event. Popular measurement categories include:

  • Brand awareness: are you attending to increase your company’s brand recognition? You can measure this based on website traffic, surveys or inbound enquiries.

  • Lead generation: the holy grail for most event attendees. For B2B events, we recommend value of leads as the more important measure of lead generation (as well as ultimately conversion rate), not just number of leads.

  • Feedback: important for product development and new companies starting their sales journey. Events offer the opportunity to gather face-to-face feedback on your products or services, so consider how you measure and record that feedback. It may help you tweak your portfolio and make it more profitable in the long-run, so it’s worth noting as part of a longer-term ROI consideration.

Conclusion B2B events may not yet be fully back to ‘normal’ with footfall down at most events hosted post-Covid to date, but the results in-person trade shows and roadshows are delivering are real.

In a well-constructed marketing mix, B2B events continue to represent great value, especially for those seeking quality over quantity in their leads. Like any marketing activity, just make sure you solidify your objectives before agreeing event participation, and measure it to gauge your success.

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