This article originally appeared at blog.hubb.me
Events are superimportant in today’s B2B marketing mix. If you’ve done any B2B event marketing, you’re likely aware how crucial events are in your marketing mix. But, let’s put some numbers on this, because data is important: According to Forrester, events are the No. 1 most effective tactic for building awareness for B2B marketers.
However, events are also the largest part of the average B2B marketer’s budget. That said, nearly half of all brands see an ROI of 300-500% on their events.
So, we’re spending big bucks on events, and they bring in big results. But with such high stakes for marketers, how do we maximize the impact of our events and make sure we’re getting a great return on all the money we’ve invested?
Let’s put an attendee name to this dilemma. We’ll call him Bob. Bob has a $1,200 budget to go to conferences this year. You would LOVE to have Bob come to your event, so he can hear your company’s message. He’ll be blown away and you’ll give him to the tools he needs to be successful. Then he becomes loyal to your product if he’s already a customer, or get his business if he’s not a customer already.
Well, that’s great, but there are lots of other events this year that would ALSO like Bob’s event budget and business. So, how do you get Bob to come to your event and not theirs?
Here is a really important stat. Over 66%, or two-thirds, of event attendees register only after seeing your event content, i.e. your speakers and your sessions. Write that stat down. Memorize it. Because this is the key to winning Bob’s business.
You want a great event with ROI that’s out of the park, and you need the right content presented by the right speakers. And you need to get your event content to market first, before all those other companies, so you can sell Bob with the thing that actually drives registrations—your sessions and content.
So here are 4 secrets to getting your event to market before your competitors:
I know what you’re thinking. “Duh, thank you Captain Obvious.” Getting an early start is always easier said than done when you’ve got a busy schedule handling other marketing campaigns and projects. But the hard reality is, if you’re organizing a mid-size or larger event (500+ attendees), you’ll ideally be starting 12 months out, starting with sourcing your venue and hotel. One tactic that works well for our team is using a work-back schedule and *actually* making it a priority to stick to the deadlines. If you want to go deeper on this subject, check out Hubb’s Conference Planning Timeline, which includes a downloadable work-back schedule template.
Survey attendees about topic preferences when your event is fresh in their minds
Using social media or online surveys (right after the event) or focus groups (usually at event), find out what speakers and topics they would like to see next year. If this is the first year you’ll be putting on your conference or event, try creating an online focus group of customers and others who fit your attendee persona. Armed with this information, you are ready to launch your call for speakers as soon as you lock down your venue and dates. Start by creating a content team, who will help you brainstorm and plan your event themes, tracks and audiences. Then get that call for speakers out the door 6 to 9 months ahead of the event.
Relying on automated processes is one of the most important things you can do to set your conference up for success. I can’t imagine managing a sales or marketing team today without using a marketing automation platform like Marketo or Hubspot to automate many of the menial tasks associated with our day-to-day work. Processes related to your speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and more can also be automated, from emailing out speaker acceptance letters and speaker contracts, to sending reminders to upload headshots and speaker bios. Using automation helps us get out of our inbox and spreadsheets and into marketing strategy and messaging.
Integrate your event website with your event tech
Remember the days of sending every little agenda change to your dev team, who then had to manually update your event website? Oh, that was yesterday for you? Please, if there is one piece of wisdom you take away from this article, let it be this: Set up an integration so your website doesn’t have to be updated manually. Even if you don’t have internal resources to do this, and end up hiring an integration specialist, the amount of money you save in dev resources stacks up in a matter of hours. HOURS.
So, there are a few ideas to give you more time and capacity so you can get your event to market more quickly, and then to better market your event and its content. Keep up the good work! You’re going to crush your conference this year.