An effective event marketing strategy involves months of behind-the-scenes planning that takes place long before the first event of the year. Putting off the preparations or not carefully aligning the event marketing strategy with your goals are two major mistakes businesses often make.
EventGeek mapped out the five main components that field marketing managers should consider when planning their event marketing strategy for 2020. By focusing on these components, businesses will be able to drive meaningful and measurable results that will impact their bottom line.
Establish event marketing objectives and KPIs.
Event marketing can drive high returns for your business, but not without a price. It’s an investment for a lot of companies and a large portion of marketing budgets continue to be allocated for event marketing. In fact, recent surveys show that CMOs are reserving nearly one-fourth of their marketing budgets for live events.
With such a substantial portion of marketing budgets devoted to event marketing, CMOs and CSOs are going to want to make sure every dollar is spent wisely. By considering the following questions, teams can evaluate if an event marketing plan will be effective for their business:
- Does the value of face-to-face meetings with prospects outweigh digital communication that could be done at a lower cost (email, PPC ads, etc.)?
- Are there events for your industry? Do your target accounts actively attend them?
- What have other businesses of similar sizes and industries gotten out of the events you’re considering attending? (You can look at past sponsors and contact the businesses for their honest feedback.)
- Will your company be able to allocate enough resources (employee time, travel costs, etc.) to execute the event marketing strategy thoroughly?
- How many repeat events does your company attend year over year? Why?
- Does it make sense to upgrade/downgrade sponsorship levels?
- How many event-sourced leads were generated from last year’s event? How many of those event-sourced leads closed? What about event-influenced leads?
- Do you need awareness, net-new contacts or to re-engage existing clients?
Once you evaluate and decide if event marketing is the best strategy to deploy, you should start to think about how you are going to measure your success at the different events you attend. This all depends on which KPIs you are looking to track.
Below are some examples of the most common objectives that businesses and a few different ways to measure them:
- Awareness. Businesses can count the number of people that come up and interact with your booth or deploy a pre-event and post-event survey to gauge awareness levels.
- Lead Generation and Pipeline Acceleration. Employees should collect business cards at the event and manually enter them into the business’s CRM after the event or have a tablet to input prospects’ information into a form that integrates with the CRM. Additionally, they should update in their CRM status reports on any cold leads that they reengaged while at the event.
- Prospect Meetings. Events are great for in-person meetings with gatekeepers at target accounts. Attendees should keep track of the number of demos or meetings had at an event.
- Customer Engagement. Bolster your relationship with an existing customer by inviting them to the event to share a case study, speak on a panel or even talk with prospects at your booth. An in-person testimonial from an existing client is extremely valuable for prospects to hear first-hand how your product or service is being implemented and utilized in similar businesses.
- Closed Deals/Total Revenue. In the end, it’s all about sales. Tag all the accounts you met and engaged with at the event in your CRM, so you can look back and track how many deals and much revenue resulted from it.
When you understand why you need to attend an event and what you’re hoping to get out of it, you can put together a plan to achieve your objectives and execute thoroughly while you are on the conference room floor.
Set your event marketing budget.
It is no secret that marketers are finding success at events. In fact, 62% of marketers planned to increase their event budgets in 2019. But how much should you allot? If you’re going all-in on event marketing as a primary marketing tactic in your marketing plan, work backwards from your KPIs.
For example, if your quarterly revenue goal is $1MM, your average deal size is $50K and your lead conversion rate is 0.01%, then you would need 2,000 leads per quarter. Assuming the average conference has 500 attendees, this would mean you should attend 4-5 conferences per quarter to acquire those leads. That number would shrink dramatically if your business leveraged additional marketing channels like digital, email, social and others to drive leads and complement your event strategy.
When budgeting and preparing to register for conferences or book booth space, don’t just focus on the registration or sponsorship fee. Events can quickly rack up hidden costs if the process isn’t managed correctly. Some of the various expenses to consider when planning include:
- Registration Fees - individual ticket fee for each employee attending the event
- Exhibit Booth - the design, production, installation and dismantling costs as well as the utility and A/V costs needed to make the booth come to life
- Marketing Collateral - business cards, one-pagers, giveaway prize, SWAG items, demo screens
- Travel - employee flights, rideshare trips, airport parking, rental cars, per diem
- Activation Expenses - sponsor packages, prospect/client dinners and happy hours
Prior to registering for any event, you should have your event marketing budget finalized to ensure that you can achieve a positive ROI for your marketing efforts.