Events are a part of every B2B organization’s marketing mix, but few organizations have a well-defined event strategy. Unless, of course, you consider “because we’ve always done it that way” a strategy. The truth is, very few organizations are disciplined enough to create demand by planning a range of events that are targeted at various audiences and buying roles. Even fewer use events to help influence and increase the rate at which opportunities move through the pipeline.
As part of an integrated marketing mix, events can be an effective tactic for pipeline acceleration. For example, an event may be designed to fill the top of the pipeline with highly targeted, pre-qualified leads that have a much greater propensity to qualify through to a stage-one sales status (what SiriusDecisions defines as “rapid-entry”). Or the event may be designed to drive positive interactions with late-stage opportunities (what we call “last-mile”). To create a solid event strategy, begin by defining the event objectives based on the buying stages and personas each event is meant to serve.
Select the audience. Events used for pipeline acceleration differ from broad-based events used to fill the top of the demand waterfall. Keep pipeline acceleration events focused and targeted toward smaller groups. Analyze pipeline dynamics to help with audience identification, and work closely with sales on the selection process to avoid conflicts with other efforts that may be underway.
Determine the event type. Not all events are created equal in terms of their ability to accelerate pipeline. For example, buyers in the last-mile stage of the pipeline are more likely to be accelerated to close by an event that provides access to executives and demonstrates what life would be like as a customer.
Develop the content. An event is a vehicle for delivering the right type of content to the buyer at a specific stage of the buying process. Consider the stages of the buying cycle your attendees are in and map the content accordingly, as you would when using other content delivery tactics.
Measure success. In addition to a standard set of metrics for measuring event performance (e.g. cost per opportunity), measure the number of opportunities that resulted in closed deals, and their velocity through the pipeline.