This B2B Event Best Practice Guide is produced by Marketing Options International (MOI) and shares best practice tips and advice for B2B event organisers.
According to a recent survey conducted in May 2010 by MOI and B2B Marketing Magazine 70% of those surveyed described events as either ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ for their marketing strategy with almost 40% spending at least a quarter of their total budget on events. Over 92% stated that relationship building is best conducted in a face-to-face situation with events considered to be the ideal medium.
With the survey results confirming that events continue to thrive in a digital revolution use this guide to help you maximise your event success.
14 Top Tips for Event Success
1. Understand your audience
The very first step should be to understand your audience. All too often MOI have seen events being organised without a second thought for the target market. Ensure you consider your audience from the onset. Put simply ask these questions:
· Why are you running an event?
· Who are you trying to target and why?
· What benefit will your event provide to the audience?
· What pain, issue or need will it address?
· Why should people come? Are you offering anything new and interesting?
· What speakers and topics would resonate with your audience?
· What event style is likely to appeal to your audience and therefore maximise attendance levels?
· Where are your audience based?
· Where and when would it be suitable to hold your event?
· Is anyone else doing anything similar? What is your USP?
2. Allow enough time
Allow yourself enough time. A typical event takes at least 8-12 weeks to arrange with venue finding being a potential Achilles Heel depending on location and time of year.
It is also important to remember that a senior audience is often extremely busy and therefore, by allowing a minimum of 8 weeks notice will maximise your chances of securing a slot in their diary. This will also allow you to execute a multi-touch audience generation programme to secure the target number of delegates.
3. Test your message
Due to time constraints this step is often skipped but should be considered vital to ensure that you are targeting the right audience with an attractive message. Here we recommend taking a 5% sample of your target market and asking their opinion on your event theme, topic, location and timing. You can do this simply with an email followed by a telemarketing programme. This will allow you to solicit feedback direct from your target market and help to refine and polish the event you deliver.
4. Set clear objectives
Make sure you (and all other stakeholders) are clear on what you’re trying achieve at the event. All to often people use quantity of registrations/attendees as a metric over quality of registrations/attendees which whilst is measureable is rarely going to result in highly qualified leads.
Make your objectives are as quantifiable as possible and use the event as part of a wider strategy and be sure to develop both medium-long term goals around the event.
Areas to consider for objectives include:
· Number of registrations and conversion to attendees?
· Number of sales and / or marketing leads desired?
· What sort of interest would you like to generate as a direct result of the event?
5. Set a budget
It is essential to set a realistic budget and stick to it as often with events budgets can spiral out of control. There are many different factors to consider when staging B2B events, each of which must be considered.
When defining an event budget its important to consider
· Campaign creatives and communications
· Signage and materials on site
· Audio visual requirements
· Stage/stand design and build
· Delegate gifts, giveaways, incentives, stand and traffic drivers
· Furniture and lighting
· Food and hospitality
· Speaker fees
· Event support/management
· Post event communications
· Travel and accommodation for team members attending
· Contingency of 10%
Make sure you undertake a cost analysis to establish how much of the budget needs to be allocated to specific areas (see items above) and where possible seek competitive quotes to make sure you are receiving the best return on your marketing investment.
6. Build an events team
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Establish an events planning team and nominate a Project Manager to coordinate and oversee all activities. The Project Manager should be given the authority to liaise with the wider team and make decisions for the event project.
Meet every week and bi-weekly in the last 4 weeks prior to the event. Regular catch ups and briefing calls are essential to ensure that the whole team share ideas and are fully briefed with regard to the expectations and logistics of the event.
Post event ensure that the same team provides honest and constructive feedback on the event and focuses on what worked and how things can be improved.
7. Venues and catering, not just a location and food
Whilst your traditional hotel venues offer a great option for any event our experience has shown us that the more unique venues help to attract delegates and ensure the event itself is more memorable.
Tying a venue with the theme of your event provides a powerful platform to showcase your brand/product/service. MOI recently held an event with the theme of ‘Driving Business Performance’ and selected Mercedes Benz World in Surrey as the venue. All attendees were offered the opportunity to test drive some of the cars around the old Brooklands track. The venue, theme and message were seamless and the feedback was incredible and the client was delighted.
The other key facet to a successful event is the food. Delegates always feedback on the standard of the catering and its too easy to overlook the catering and get it wrong. It is vital to ensure that you take time to research your menus and where possible create a bespoke menu perfectly tailored to the needs of the delegates accommodating all religious and dietary requirements.