In-person events remain the most effective B2B lead generation tool there is. But holding even a small event can soon eat up a sizable amount of budget. So what can you do if your company is a start-up, or you’re currently too small to host an event of your own?
The good news is you still have options. There are many ways you can benefit from this type of event, even if you can’t hold your own. Here are some ideas for how to take advantage of in-person events when you’re on a tight budget.
If you can’t afford to host an event right now, then how about partnering up with someone else to spread the cost? The key thing here is to choose the best partner – someone who is going to be a good fit. It should ideally be someone who has the same target market as you, but who isn’t a competitor.
Alternatively, you could look at bigger brands who may want to reach your particular market, either directly or through you. They may, for example, be willing to sponsor your event and provide interesting speakers, in return for getting in front of the right people.
Either way, make sure that you share similar values and ideas about how to serve that market. Your reputation may be affected by their behaviour. Plus, you need to be very clear about who will have responsibility for what, in terms of organizing and hosting the event.
Provide a speaker
If you have something interesting to say and you want to share it with the world (we’re not talking about plugging your products here) then how about providing a speaker for someone else’s event? Not only will this help get you in front of your target audience, but it will position you as an expert in your field. And, as long as the person speaking is engaging and good at what they do, then you could be on to a winner. Event organizers are always on the lookout for interesting speakers and panellists, but often finding them is easier said than done.
Any speaker you put forward needs to speak well and know their topic inside out. They also need to have a great presentation to back them up (not just endless bullets on slides). To that end, if they need it then don’t be afraid to enlist the help of professionals. A presentation or voice coach could help you craft your story and tell it well. A good presentation will always help you breed more fans and people who want to engage with you further.
Host an online event
Now don’t get us wrong, hosting an online event will be nowhere near as effective as an in-person event, but if executed well it can still have a positive impact. There are 3 main formats to choose from:
These can work well in many industries. Just make sure that what you’re offering is based on an excellent, educational topic and that you have great presenters. Strong organizational skills will also be really important, particularly relating to any technical elements.
2. Virtual event
Technology has improved massively in recent years and it is now possible to host an entire event virtually. A panel discussion is one activity that works well hosted this way. You can either get the panel together in one room and then broadcast that or have them all login virtually from different locations. These types of events will generally feel more personal than a webinar.
3. Live streaming
This tool has really come into its own since Facebook started letting everyone live stream and it is well worth investigating how you could use it to your advantage. It’s simple to do and doesn’t cost anything, if you use a platform like Facebook. There are other platforms that offer it too, so do your research and find the one most suitable for your audience.
Assist with other people’s events
If speaking at someone else’s event isn’t an option then perhaps you could offer the organizers your services and assistance in another way. For example, if they’re targeting the exact same audience you want to reach, and what you have to offer is complimentary to their services, then there may be a good chance you could get on their partners list. If you can’t afford to be a sponsor as such, then think about other ways you can get involved, such as by providing resources and content, connecting them with speakers and other helpful contacts, and even offering your help on the day.
Attend in-person events
If you can’t host your own event then try to attend someone else’s. Look out for events that are aiming at a similar target audience to your own. But never be that pushy delegate who only talks about their own product the entire time. Instead, enjoy the event, network and make connections. Be interested in the other attendees and find ways that you could help them. Collect business cards and contact details and make sure your follow up is impeccable.
In many cases, it’s possible to find out who is attending an event beforehand, particularly if it is a public event, or there’s a lot of social media activity going on. Find and follow the event hashtag, as people will often post to say they are attending. Get involved in the conversation and start making some connections ahead of the event.
Whatever the size of the event you attend, make sure you have a plan. Think who you want to connect with, then do your research so you’re prepared. Decide what is going to be most important for you and set some goals and a strategy beforehand. There’s an interesting write up on this by someone who took a year to attend as many events as she could. ‘Make In-Person Events Your Go-To Content Marketing Tactic’.
Secrets of success
No matter which strategy you apply, it is important to keep these keys to success in mind:
- Plan your activities well, don’t just hop on and off ideas
- Have a content marketing strategy aligned with your event marketing strategy, working hand in hand they can produce incredible returns
- Know your target audience extremely well
- Know your topic inside out
- Stand out from the crowd, be impeccable in your behavior and how you treat others
- Have a good social media presence and talk about all the things you do
- Be THE follow-up pro and always keep your promises
- Analyse and track your ROI, i.e. take notes in terms of achievements and learning for every event, then summarize after a period of time
- Have a system to find relevant events quickly (bookmarks, checklist, etc)
- Always carry marketing material with you (business cards, flyers)
- Focus on what really matters – making connections, building relationships, providing excellent service
And if you are going to host your own events, then be sure to follow our ‘Tips for planning successful in-person marketing events’.