This is a guest post by Brandon Redlinger, Director of Growth at Engagio, the account-based everything platform.
Events tend to make up a large portion of marketing spend—after all, they’re a quick and efficient way to get facetime with a large audience in a short period of time. What’s more, in the eyes of traditional demand gen, it was easy to measure. Booth scans and business cards generally indicated success or failure.
However, in an account-based everything world, quality matters more than quantity, and booth scans are no longer enough. To get the most ROI out of your events, drive more qualified prospects, and support an account based approach, you must change your strategy.
In this post, we’ll cover how your account-based marketing team can be most effective before, during, and after events. We’ll share event strategies that ensure greater pipeline, shorter sales cycles and ultimately, more revenue for your bottom line.
Pre-Event Strategy: Planning for Success
The success of your event is largely determined by the work that you do leading up to the it. This is where it all begins.
Set the right metrics – The first step in a killer pre-show plan is to set accountability metrics. Your objective isn’t to have the best-looking booth or prize at the trade show; it’s to do business. That booth must look good, and your giveaways need to be eye-catching, but these are means to an end. Set accountability for business results first and foremost, before any other event-planning decisions.
When Engagio prepares for events as a team, we set a meeting goal for both net new and existing opportunities, as well as opportunities generated from the event. These two goals drive and inform our decisions around everything else we do. To make sure we’re doing the right things, this is the lens through which we base future decisions.
Assign roles – Once you’re in agreement on your goals, align your sales and marketing organizations around what roles they’ll play leading up to the event.
Marketing begins with compiling a list of attendees and crafting messaging specifically to that audience. Sales development takes that list and cross-references it with their target accounts to orchestrate account-based plays against. Sales starts looking at their open opportunities and running plays of their own. Customer Success looks at their current user based to find opportunities for advocacy and customer marketing (testimonials, case studies, etc).
In Event Strategy: Spend Time Wisely
If you’ve been in marketing or sales for any amount of time, chances are you’ve been on both sides of the booth at an event, as both an attendee and a sponsor. How we spend our time, and how we approach conversations at these shows, is critical.
As an attendee, there’s no doubt that you’ve talked to a rep for 5+ minutes and still walked away asking yourself, “what the heck do they do?” As a sponsor, your job is to make sure attendees you speak with don’t walk away with that same question.
As a sponsor at a booth, there’s no doubt that you’ve talked to a person for 5+ minutes only to have them reveal that they’re not a prospect, and just wanted to talk. While sponsoring, your job is to make sure you don’t waste your time with these tire-kickers.
Ideally, your team has set up meetings ahead of each show with target accounts that you know will be in attendance. These meetings are worth their weight in gold as they afford you critical facetime, and save you from wasting time with non-relevant prospects who may stop by the booth. To avoid wasting time with attendees that aren’t as crucial to your business, having a process in place will be helpful.
Here is a five-part strategy to give your team regarding net-new conversations:
- Give a high-level value proposition – This should only be two or three sentences, 10 seconds max. The goal is to set the frame of the conversation and deliver a hook.
- Qualify – Just like a phone conversation, you have to qualify every prospect. You won’t be able to do a full discovery and qualification here, but you’ll want your baseline at the very least.
- Give a quick demo – Again, you probably don’t have the time for an in-depth demo (nor is it the appropriate time or place for that), but make sure you have specific talking points prepared to show off the sexiest parts of your product. If the booth traffic is heavy or you’re short on time, skip the demo and move to the next step.
- Get a commitment – Ideally, the goal is to schedule your next time to speak right there on the spot. Get their commitment so you can do a full discovery and demo.
- Take notes – Whether it’s in the scanning device or on the back of a business card, or best case scenario, in your mobile event app, jot down the important pieces of info you need to know to follow up properly.
Post-Event Strategy: Don’t Fail the Follow-Up
Now that you have your list of high-quality prospects, it’s time to continue the conversations. That’s why it’s imperative to take notes after each discussion.
Here are the biggest mistakes teams make with their post-event strategy:
- Not taking good notes on the conversations you have
- Sending generic one-size-fits-all follow-ups (there’s a huge difference between sales spam and human connections)
- Waiting too long to follow up
- Not following up at all
Used wisely, events can be a huge driver of new business. If you don’t prioritize and use them properly, you’re better off spending that budget on other marketing programs.
For more step-by-step guidance to help you host account-based marketing events, check out Engagio's and Event Farm's Account-Based Event Marketing Checklist.