Events and Advocacy: A Missed Opportunity?
Events and advocacy really have a symbiotic relationship; events support advocacy and advocacy supports events. Find out more.
One common topic of discussion among B2B marketers during their annual budget planning sessions is “How can we get more return from our huge investments in events?” It’s a good question, given the large percentage of budget that events often take up, as well as the corresponding challenge of measuring return on investment.
An often-overlooked benefit of events is their support of general account relationship goals – specifically, your customer advocacy strategy. Events and advocacy really have a symbiotic relationship; events support advocacy and advocacy supports events. Marketers who understand this relationship and employ strategies to capitalize on it often realize significant gains in both areas. Leveraging events to support customer advocacy delivers value in three primary ways:
- Advocate sourcing. Events are a natural source of potential customer advocates. Attending customers have already made an investment by carving time out of their busy schedules to come to your event – and perhaps absorbing significant travel costs to get there. SiriusDecisions research indicates the two primary sources of advocates are nominations from sales and direct outreach to customers. However, the third most popular source is user or customer conferences. Most organizations do not leverage this target-rich environment effectively to drive growth of their advocacy community.
- Advocate activation. Events present an excellent opportunity to get existing advocates to do more for you, as well as encourage new advocates to take initial steps to support your advocacy efforts. Start by reviewing event registration lists to identify current advocates well before the event, and put together a menu of advocacy activities that are appealing to attendees. Look for opportunities to engage your advocates in event speaking slots, analyst interviews, breakout sessions and other similar activities.
- Advocate integration. Finally, leverage events to help introduce customer advocates to each other. Combining multiple advocates not only brings added value, but also gathers unique insights. Also, providing an environment for advocates to network with each other will be well received by this most valuable segment of your customer base. You’ll find that one plus one equals more than two.
Events are consistently subject to scrutiny as B2B organizations look for more return on their marketing investments. Adding customer advocacy to the mix presents the opportunity to see events in a whole new light. Assuming your customers are pleased with their investment in your products and solutions, you will likely find they are more than happy to share their experiences with both prospects and current customers.
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