In a business setting, businesses will need other businesses as much as they need customers. This is especially the case with a business-to-business marketing agency, which cannot function without its clients. But how do businesses go about accruing clients? They need to search for them, and among these strategies is B2B event marketing.
Before we venture any further, though, let’s first get back to basics. What is B2B event marketing, why is it so important, and why should you invest it in? Read on for all the answers.
What is B2B event marketing?
‘B2B’ stands for ‘business-to-business’, which pertains to the transactional relationship between two businesses. To refer back to the above example, a business-to-business marketing agency is built upon business relationships. The agency provides its clients with marketing strategies, which will (if the agency is any good) boost the clients’ brand image, and the clients will pay for the privilege. This is a different concept from B2C relations, which focuses on the transactional relationship between business and consumer.
As for the ‘event marketing’ aspect of the phrase, this pertains to events in which businesses partake in order to market themselves to other businesses. Whilst similar to B2C event marketing, in which businesses partake in order to win prospective customers, B2B event marketing is born of the intention to form new business relationships. Traditionally, businesses or hosts will hold these events offline, but with the 2020s’ increasing trend of working from home, virtual events are also commonplace.
What are some common examples?
Exhibitions and trade shows
Exhibitions are quite possibly the most common form of B2B event marketing—and of B2C marketing, too. Have you ever been to a market consisting of multiple business stalls? If so, you have attended a trade show exhibition event. A trade show is a thematic tapestry, and each stall forms a unique thread on this technicoloured showcase of businesses and their best products. This is the bandwagon you’ll want to join as a) you will be responsible only for your stall, as opposed to the whole event, and b) you’ll be more or less spoon-fed your foot traffic. If there ever were a time to perform a product demonstration, it would be at an exhibition of any kind.
When it comes to exhibiting, there is a bit of give-and-take. A lot of time and money goes into setup, rental/attendance fees, and preparing your products for presentation or demonstration. Exhibiting can do wonders for business lead generation, but businesses should perform a cost-benefit analysis before committing
You know what they say: ‘if you can’t come to the party, let’s bring the party to you’. This philosophy is at the heart of all roadshows. Let’s say you have a shop in only one location. It’s going to attract the locals—or perhaps some very devoted non-locals—but you’ll make a bigger buck with multiple store locations. Whilst roadshows are not permanent fixtures, they can cover a lot of ground. When you also consider that people prefer local events to happenings further afield, you’ve got yourself an explanation as to why roadshows work.
If a business is conducting a roadshow series, that means that they are hosting the same half- or full-day event for a succession of days across multiple locations. The intention is to generate business leads and to spread brand awareness far and wide. If you can catch more fish by casting a wider net, imagine how many more you could accrue with multiple nets in many different places.
Of course, holding multiple events in multiple locations will mean multiple venue hire fees. You’ll also need to pay all staff involved to compensate for the large portions of their time. Roadshows are a high-risk/high-reward initiative and you’ll want a strategy in place before you get started.
If exhibitions and roadshows are free-for-alls, VIP dinners are invitation-only events. Think of them as a date where one business is trying to entice the other into a business relationship. How can the hosting business butter up the attending business? They could shower them with gifts and live music, and even hire a celebrity speaker. Overall, though, a VIP dinner is an opportunity to discuss potential business over a meal and some drinks. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where people can take the time to nut out details or to clarify any outstanding questions they may have.
Oftentimes, a business will host a VIP dinner on the evening of an exhibition or conference. This is a mutually beneficial endeavour that not only feeds off the positive vibes from earlier but also blends the businesses’ schedules in a seamless way.
Conferences are like the ‘big guns’ of event marketing. You would only initiate one of these if your business has enjoyed considerable success. Conferences require high budgets and a whole lot of effort. The idea, however, is that all that time and money will repay itself to you in spades. If it’s a ticketed event, for example, the audience admission fees should nourish your depleted finances, and ideally turn over a large profit. If your conference attracts hundreds or even thousands of attendees, this will further justify your expenditure. Like roadshow events, conferences can extend over multiple days—the key difference being, though, that it doesn’t repeat the same content. You may publish details of the upcoming events in a program.
A conference is one of those ‘go-big-or-go-home’ events that, when executed well, should generate a wealth of business leads and profits. Consider running one later down the track once your business can stand on its own two feet.
Is there anything further to add?
B2B event marketing is a strong lead-generating tool that can build business relationships, spread brand awareness, and boost business success. It can take many forms—be these virtual or offline—but there is something to be said about in-person networking. It’s tactile, it’s more personal, and there’s only so much you can communicate from an online platform. You can use this knowledge to better win prospective clients via in-the-flesh forms of event marketing.
B2B event marketing operates on the entrepreneurial philosophy that you need to spend money to make money. Organising such events can be high-risk/-high-reward, which is why you should consider your strategy before you initiate any event. Start small by setting up a market stall, for example, and you will ideally work your way up to hosting roadshow events or maybe even conferences.
Behind every successful event is a smart B2B event marketing strategy. If you need some help finding yours, a business-to-business marketing agency can equip you to work from the ground up. Contact 121 Group today and find the strategy that best works for you and your business.