From conferences to sales presentations to network building, marketing opportunities are everywhere.
If there’s one subject where marketers and business owners are aligned, it’s the power of event marketing. As a marketing firm that specializes in digital services (websites, content marketing, paid media), we are used to dealing in strategies that operate with indirect feedback. We can watch how visitors interact with our content, but we don’t see their live response. Events are a rare chance for us to witness reactions to our materials in person.
We suspect this is also why events are well regarded among B2B companies. Conferences and trade shows have an energy to them that is undeniable, and a lot of that energy comes from the validation from positive customer feedback.
Despite being a digital agency, we’ve frequently worked with our B2B clients to develop their conference materials, and we’ve learned a lot from attending them ourselves. Here are our top 5 thoughts on how digital and event marketing can support each other.
1. Draw on your digital messaging for conference and sales materials.
Your website is your best marketing tool, so if you’re using it right you’ve probably developed a number of marketing resources for visitors to explore as they learn more about your product. These might include buyer’s guides, case studies, or infographics, many of which may already be in downloadable form.
Review these resources and use them as a launching point for more content creation specifically for in-person use. For instance, you may have a downloadable piece that that would make a great print handout with some formatting adjustments, or you may notice that an infographic would be a perfect centerpiece for your brochure.
Also consider how these materials could draw traffic back to your website, for instance by including a QR code on each brochure linking back to a specific digital landing page.
2. Publicize your event schedule on your owned media.
When you’re going to an event, let people know! Posting your event schedule on owned media platforms, such as your website or brand social media channels, sends several strong messages about your business:
- Your business is active and engaged. Posting a conference schedule is a little like turning on your “Open” sign. It shows that you’re a healthy, thriving business determined to position yourself where the action is.
- You’re ready to meet your customers face to face. One of the benefits of conference environments is it allows customers to meet you in a low-stakes interaction. If they’re already there, it may be worth their while to walk over to your booth for a quick chat without the obligation of setting up a meeting.
- You’re invested in your industry. We’ve worked with a lot of businesses in manufacturing, engineering, and technology fields, where the biggest buzzword is “innovation.” Event participation shows that you’re aware of your competition, in touch with the latest developments, and ready to hold your own.
3. Leverage live events to build your email lists.
List building is a powerful marketing strategy when done right, but can rapidly backfire with the wrong practices. While your website is a way to generate leads through opt-in forms, live events let you put the question to customers more directly, and their feedback can even help you better tailor your email content.
There are three ways you can build email lists through live events.
- Include a link to an email sign-up form on your brochures. This is a fairly low-touch way, which will be reflected in your sign-up rate. But it will be there for anyone who took a brochure but couldn’t stick around to talk, and those who do sign up will hopefully be more invested.
- Talk to customers directly and ask if you can sign them up. You can have a pen-and-paper form on hand, or you can ask for their business card. This way is a little more direct, but gets you more sign-ups while also earning explicit opt-in from new connections.
- Purchase a list from the event organizer. Some professional events will sell registration lists to other event attendees. Be warned, however: this is not always a good option, as event attendees have not opted in to your emails and may mark them as spam. If you attend a very niche conference, you could use the list to send out emails inviting attendees to opt in to your main mailing list, rather than spam a bunch of people at once.
4. Use what you learned to establish your expertise.
Any professional focused on their own development can gain a lot from approaching an event prepared to learn. Whether you’re exploring the newest technologies or making a critical assessment of the competition, you’re almost sure to walk away with plenty of thoughts.
Put them to work for you! Write an article for your blog, publicize it on LinkedIn, send an email—show your customers that you’ve seen the latest and greatest in your industry, and that you were taking notes.
5. Listen to live feedback and iterate your marketing accordingly.
Finally, as you talk to customers, listen to how they respond to your marketing. Are they excited? Confused? Apathetic? What’s landing and what isn’t? What do they want more of? What questions are they asking? How can you leverage that feedback for the future?
Maybe you realize you’re missing a key brochure, or your headline is delivering the wrong message—or maybe part of your message hits the nail on the head, and you want to lean into that more forcibly. The more you pay attention, the better your materials will be the next time. And if you apply that feedback to your website as well, you don’t even need to wait for the next conference to improve your messaging.
Online marketing keeps connections alive until the next in-person event.
The excitement around a good event can provide enough momentum to carry a business for months. But eventually the energy winds down, and the low tide between events can leave many organizations anxiously twiddling their thumbs. Marketing can buoy your efforts until the next event comes around.
If you’re interested in digital marketing support that can help you make the most of your events, contact us today. Our team can develop the creative assets needed to set you apart from the crowd.