After launching 30+ SaaS companies we have found events can profoundly impact the customer journey when used to build brand awareness and community. They also are great opportunities for generating targeted leads and driving pipeline movement while allowing you to stand out in the market. The bottom line, events work.
Egan Montgomery, Director of Go-to-Market at High Alpha, Katie Brunette, Sr. Director of Global Events & Campaigns at Seismic, and Alex Adkins, CEO and Head of Events at PlanWell, came together to create a phenomenal master class workshop on events and field marketing touching on topics from strategy to planning to follow-up. This intimate workshop created a space for our portfolio companies to learn and ask questions on how to successfully use events as a touch point in the customer journey. High level learns from the experts were:
- There’s always an event format that works no matter your budget or business type. And events aren’t just for big shots. Start early!
- Community building is key for startups. Hosting events where customers or prospects can mingle builds trust and loyalty. Fans for life!
- The key to successful events? Good prep and follow-up. Don’t drop the ball!
- Two-way conversations count more than emails. We see great results with 2-3 event touches before a target account becomes an opportunity.
- Personal invites beat generic emails any day. Hosting virtual events like webinars? Be the exception, not the rule.
- Want to be remembered after your event? Get creative! Dress up llamas or Barbies in your prospect’s colors. It works!
- Nail the details and you’re golden. Personal touches and customized follow-up make the difference. Pay attention!
- What’s your event goal: building a brand or boosting sales? Choose one, and optimize accordingly. Don’t settle!
The trio of speakers also discussed the different kinds of events and how they measure success. The consensus amongst all was events are an investment in your brand and customer base. Speaking from experience, Alex Adkins reflected, “Be prepared to give money away that you won’t make back immediately.” They provide more touch points for customers as they make their way through the funnel. These touchpoints build upon each other and sway potential customers in your favor. All three speakers talked about the goals behind why businesses should want to go and plan their customer-centric events. Those goals include:
🌱 Increasing Brand Awareness
🚀 Sales Pipeline Generated and Influenced
📣 Positioning Brand as a Thought Leader
Events and field marketing show businesses whether or not their sales and marketing teams are aligned. While marketing puts on the events and creates the collateral needed for pre and post-touchpoints, sales teams and account executives are also tested. For every two to three people in attendance, Katie recommends one internal person in attendance. Events are not the conversion point. Katie Brunette emphasized, “Most events are pipeline influencing, not pipeline generating.” Most of the time, they keep customers interested in your brand. Sales and account teams are needed at events to nurture leads and build relationships with qualified customers. While marketing is responsible for the event, there is an element of cross-functionality with sales and account teams for events to have a more significant impact.
The second half of the workshop consisted of the class working in teams to plan an event. They were given guides to help them strategize and got to work with other B2B leaders and marketers to bounce ideas off of. While working on their events, Egan, Katie, and Alex were there to answer questions and lead them through the event planning process. Alex’s advice to the group during their work time was, “Your pre and post-touchpoints should all feel like the same experience.” She wanted the group to think of fun ways to incorporate their branding into gifts and merch at every stage to help achieve consistency. The goal of the master class is to give the attendees the tools and framework needed to develop an event marketing strategy that aligns with their company goals and objectives and the step-by-step process on how to plan an event within this strategy. Participants were provided with a simple yet effective template to define their event marketing strategies, coupled with an easy-to-use communication plan.
When going through your marketing budget and strategy for the year, you’ve most likely gone through which events you need to attend and what kinds of events you should put on. Now is the time to take a close look at how you can make the most of those upcoming events. Creating a memorable event takes a lot of work, but the impact it has on brand awareness and trust is well worth it.