As marketing and sales teams shift to strategies that involve more personalized, direct interactions with consumers, many are turning to Account-Based Marketing (ABM). ABM is great, but many marketers are wondering which channels they should leverage as they shift to an account-based strategy. An increasing number of organizations are incorporating event marketing into their mix, but can events fit in with ABM? Events not only fit into an ABM strategy, but can be a logical extension of the account-based approach—the key is to make sure that your organization approaches events strategically and ensures key business objectives are met.
Why event marketing?
With the rise of digital marketing channels, consumers have become inundated with emails, eBooks, and social ads. It’s increasingly difficult for organizations to create online marketing campaigns that stand out. As a result, more and more organizations are turning to in-person marketing events to grab the attention of their audience and drive business results.
What a revenue-generating event looks like:
You’ve probably attended a revenue-generating event. They range from small-scale, VIP dinners to large industry conferences—and even though they range in size and format, revenue-driven B2B events typically share several common characteristics. While the specific details of each event depend on both the organization hosting and the target audience, successful revenue-generating events share these qualities:
- A clear set of objectives are defined and discussed (Is the purpose of the event to drive awareness, set meetings, accelerate pipeline, or something else?)
- The list of attendees includes both customers and prospects
- The events provide useful, relevant content, whether that takes the form of a presentation delivering the latest industry research, top-notch networking opportunities with other C-level executives, interactive and engaging experiential activations, and more
- Multiple internal teams, especially sales and marketing, work together to make the event successful
- Before the event, sales reps set themselves up for success by identifying who needs to connect with different contacts once they’re on site—a process we like to call engagement mapping
- The event provides time for networking
- The post-event follow-up is personalized and contextualized
Events of this nature should have the goal of driving pipeline, accelerating deals, upselling or cross-selling, or, in some cases, retention. If driving meetings are a goal, it is helpful to have a dedicated space for your sales reps to have personalized, in-depth conversations.
Why revenue-driven events work
If you’re able to fill a room with the right mix of prospects, customers, marketers and sales reps, you’re likely to see successful results. In a study of the marketing activities that most influence the purchasing decisions of B2B customers, results showed that the top three most influential activities are:
- Direct interactions with the provider
In other words, when events leverage customer advocacy and references, they combine the three most influential B2B marketing activities into one powerful touchpoint. Ensuring that all of these moving pieces come together for one event, however, requires a lot of leg work and coordination among internal teams. But if your organization has already adopted an ABM strategy, you’ve already put in a lot of that hard work—and now you just need to set up the logistics of an event to reap the rewards.
Leveraging your ABM strategy for event marketing
If you’ve already adopted an ABM strategy for your organization, the good news is that you’ve already done a lot of the heavy lifting to set yourself up for a successful event. A successful ABM strategy requires that you take the following steps:
- Select your target accounts – The goal of this is to optimize your sales and marketing efforts by focusing on key accounts that are most likely to drive big revenue.
- Discover the proper contacts and map to your accounts – Getting more coverage at your target accounts will help you identify buying centers and know where to open doors.
- Develop account insights – Learn as much as you can about each account so you can deliver personalized and relevant touches.
- Generate account-relevant messages and content – Creating the right content and messaging based on your account insights are key starting conversations.
- Deliver account-specific interactions – Decide which mediums/channels are going to be the best to deliver your messages.
- Orchestrate account-focused plays – Synchronize your team’s interactions into coordinated plays that align to account plans and goals
All of these steps are also necessary to set yourself and your team up for a successful revenue-generating event. Events can even serve to strengthen some of the actions required for an account-based marketing strategy. An event, for example, is the perfect platform for delivering account-specific interactions and orchestrating account-focused plays.
For example, an account-focused play for an event might involve your CEO hosting a VIP dinner before the event with top executives from key accounts. This play would involve the following steps:
- Several weeks before the event, your marketing team launches display ads across relevant channels to drive awareness of your event for your target audience.
- Your ADR researches the connection between the contacts within your target accounts and the key players within your organization who will work to develop those relationships.
- Your CEO (or another top executive) sends an email to top executives at your target accounts, inviting them to a VIP dinner that will take place before the event.
- After waiting about a week, your ADR checks to see who has confirmed that they will attend the dinner, and who has yet to respond.
- Once your CEO knows which contacts have yet to confirm their attendance, he or she sends out follow-up emails reminding invitees of the dinner, this time including a list of some of the confirmed guests.
- A few days after your CEO sends the follow-up email, your ADR should reach out via phone to all executives invited—both confirmed and unconfirmed guests—either re-inviting them or confirming receipt of their RSVP
- If there are still invitees who have yet to respond, your ADR sends emails to those executives, once again letting them know of the event, and asking whether or not your company should reserve their spot or give it up to someone else.
This play will not only help to align your sales and marketing teams as you prepare to host your event, but it will also allow your CEO to build better relationships with key players within target accounts before your event officially begins.
To further carry your ABM strategy into event marketing, you should keep core tenets of account-based marketing in mind while planning your event. When choosing a location, for example, you’ll want to host an event where you have a high concentration of target accounts. Once you’ve confirmed your event’s location, determining who to invite and creating personalized outreach should be straightforward for those already practicing ABM—and interacting with prospects in-person will only serve to strengthen those relationships.
From there, you need to work through the logistics of setting up the event, which includes choosing a venue, finding keynote speakers and/or guest panelists, and sending out invitations. Make sure you put some time and effort into thinking through these details. You’re trying to develop in-depth relationships with each of the contacts and accounts that will be in attendance—and the content of your email invitation and ambience of the venue can go a long way in creating a more personalized and impactful experience for them.
For a more comprehensive and tactical approach to begin executing this strategy, download The Account-Based Event Marketing Checklist, and learn how you can best leverage your ABM strategy to before, during, and after events to further develop account-specific relationships and drive business results.