Expert ABM: How to Build Your Event Strategy

Posted by Jessica Fewless on January 18, 2017


Our latest Expert ABM blog series explores how certain marketing tactics and channels change with Account-Based Marketing. In this first article, our Senior Director of Field Marketing, shares how to be more strategic with your event planning. 

These days, when I present at conferences, I usually ask the question “who thinks they do TOO MANY events?” And with regularity, over 50% of the hands in the room go up.  For many reasons, most of us would like to sponsor fewer events. And yet, when called upon to trim down our roster, suddenly, every event seems important for one reason or another.

Whether it’s because we have a history, an exec expressed interest or we know the competition will be there, our fear of missing out kicks in. And that’s just on the marketing side. Add in the specific requests from the Sales team, and you could end up at a different event every week. We want to make everyone happy, but we know it’s not sustainable.

But imagine having a framework, based on relevant metrics, for determining what events to sponsor – and how much to invest. (Crazy idea, we know.) But what if you were always making decisions based on important questions, such as: How many target accounts are going to be there? Can you get a speaking slot? Could you fill a table for a VIP dinner?

You’d probably find that if you were more strategic about your event planning, you could increase your ROI (and decrease the number of branded sunglasses you have to order every year.) With ABM as the foundation of your strategy, this is actually quite attainable.

Once you have a target account list, you can start to think about your approach in a very different way. At a high level, here’s how to start thinking about it:

1.      Look at your previous year’s events to see which ones produced the most pipeline and what made those events successful?

a.      Metrics you’ll want to evaluate:

i.      What percentage of attendees are on your Target Account list? You’ll likely find that there is a concentration of Target Accounts below which your events have diminishing returns.

ii.      What other factors contribute to your most successful events? A particular sponsorship level? A speaking slot? An ancillary event like an Executive Briefing, Client dinner or others?You’ll probably come to the conclusion that some of the events you’ve done in the past don’t make the cut, whereas some of the events that do meet your criteria cost a little more to execute flawlessly. So now, when your Sales team or your Executives come to you with suggestions for events, you have concrete criteria (data-driven) by which to evaluate the new opportunities. You can make a compelling case to re-distribute your budget from less valuable events to those with greater ROI.

The Result:

·         Sales sees you as more collaborative

·         You spend less time on events, freeing up time for other programs that also help you reach your Target Accounts.

·         Your sales team spend less time at events, and more time in their territories SELLING!

This example should give you a better idea on how to approach your events strategy. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, you can always shoot me a note @jfewlessB2B.

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