Traditionally, B2B companies spend a lot of money on live events and it’s easy to see why. Once you get to the big end of town, especially with large-scale technology or finance solutions and consulting engagements, it’s hardly an “Add to cart” purchasing decision. You’re looking at long sales cycles, multiple decision-makers and a loosely defined set of ‘purchase influencers’.
While face-to-face engagement remains a crucial part of the marketing process, the fact that digital channels are now simply part of the fabric for B2B audiences means marketers have plenty of levers to pull to ensure that the investment in ‘meat space’ events continues to deliver. And creative strategists have plenty of opportunities to use content, social and mobile to create great digital customer experiences, using a live event as the base-plate.
We recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer). These 10 tips are a summary of what we found to be true and useful:
1. Set clear, realistic objectives for digital’s role in your event’s success.
Generally, an event is a response a business problem. That problem could be something like “Our user base is shrinking” or “We need to onboard a new brand acquisition” or “The C-suite don’t understand what our product or solution does.”
In each case, the problem rests with an audience or a target, and that’s where your objective-setting should start and end. Who are these people? What are they concerned about? What are they motivated by? And, critically, what is their relationship to digital?
Once you’ve got a handle on the audience, write down the thing that you want them to do. Do you want them to change their mind about something? Do you want them to give up some sort of profiling information? Do you want them to introduce your brand to one of their colleagues?
You might end up with a list of things you want to achieve – that’s good. Now you can assign them to digital, or the event itself, or another channel, like the sales force, or traditional PR. Get detailed and make sure you have the right tool for the job in each case. If your event is to launch a new product or solution, for example, and that’s an incredibly complex story, leave that part to the live event. Make it digital’s job to find the right people and encourage them to be there.
If you can only afford to run your live event once and your audience covers a much broader territory, make it digital’s job to broadcast as much of the event as possible to people who would like to come, but can’t physically be there. Think about what your audience use digital (mobile & social in particular) to do, and play to those strengths. Don’t ask digital to create trusted networks and thriving communities, when you know your audience prefer to make connections face-to-face.
Once you have that sorted, it’s time for a very serious and important question: Why on earth would they do that? What would I have to give them in exchange? What’s your answer when they ask you ‘What’s In It For Me?’
About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+
About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.