This post was originally published on Attend by Event Farm's blog and was written by Garrett Huddy.
How can you make the most effective marketing tactic more effective? In-person events are already hugely successful for B2B marketers, but they have the potential to become even better. One of the biggest missed opportunities in the world of B2B events is not taking full advantage of field events as a platform for generating customer advocacy. In-person events aren’t just for closing deals and building thought leadership—they also present an opportunity to recruit new advocates, engage existing advocates, and leverage advocacy to drive revenue.
Behind direct interaction with a company or organization, customer references rank second on a list of B2B marketing tactics that pull the most weight in influencing purchasing decisions. The third most influential marketing activity? Events.
So, when you make customer references part of your event strategy, you combine the three most influential marketing activities into one powerful touchpoint. Face-to-face interaction is still the most powerful way to start a conversation, strengthen a relationship, or move a deal forward. You should be leveraging your advocates to help you do all of those things at in-person events. Keep reading to learn how to do it.
1. Plan field events around customer advocacy
Your event strategy should focus on your customer advocates. Where are they located? What are their interests? What industry conferences do they attend? The answers to these questions for your advocates, customers, and prospects should inform your event strategy. Any field event without customer advocates in attendance is a wasted opportunity.
To make your advocates part of your event, you’ll need to reach out to them and find out if they are available and willing to advocate for you at an event. Consider a pre-event campaign to identify which customer advocates can attend before inviting other guests. Offer an incentive to get your advocates there like free admission to a paid event, discounts, or recognition at the event.
2. Determine the right type of advocacy for the event
Customer advocacy comes in many different forms. For events, the most common format for advocacy is a customer presentation. This can be extremely powerful, but it isn’t appropriate for every type of event. For example, if you’re hosting a dinner or cocktail hour for an event, it won’t be the best platform for a formal presentation—but it will still be an excellent opportunity to leverage customer advocacy.
For smaller events, the form of advocacy could be as simple as sharing a 5-minute customer story at a dinner or providing an introduction between a prospect and a customer. Sometimes ditching the formal presentation is the best option, even when a formal presentation might make sense for your event’s format. For example, a panel discussion with customer advocates who are also industry experts will be more engaging than slides. Just keep in mind that you should give your advocates enough time to properly prepare before your event. It’ll make it easier on everyone.
3. Have a plan for on-site engagement
Before your event, go through your list of event registrants to identify which attendees would benefit the most from chatting with a customer advocate. By taking the time to plan which customers and prospects you want to introduce to which advocates, you’ll know who to connect with whom at the event.
Having an engagement plan in place will ensure that you make the most out of having your advocates and prospects in the same place. Make sure your process of checking guests in at the event makes it easy for your sales reps to know when specific advocates, customers, or prospects arrive. This will allow the right member of your team to greet them and make sure the appropriate introductions happen.
4. Make the right introductions
Why do people attend marketing events? Most often, it’s to learn something and to network with like-minded professionals. Your events should foster this type of environment to make the experience valuable for your attendees. Luckily, events that encourage learning and networking tie in perfectly with a customer advocacy strategy.
As the event host, your onsite team should be making introductions and bringing people together. Attendees appreciate this, especially at events where most of the attendees don’t know each other. Introducing a power user to a new customer, or a happy new customer to a late stage prospect, adds value for your attendees while helping you accelerate the sales pipeline. Adding value for your attendees while driving revenue is the perfect event outcome.
Want to learn more about setting your B2B event up for success? Watch a recording of our webinar, Supercharging Sales and Marketing Alignment at Events.
Event pros, how do you leverage customer advocacy at your events? Do you use events as an opportunity to build new brand evangelists? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @eventfarm!