Here’s How to Engage ABM Accounts With Live and Virtual Events

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November 9, 2022

4 mins read

Engage ABM accounts with events features

Here’s How to Engage ABM Accounts With Live and Virtual Events

A high-quality, live interaction will always be the most powerful way to initiate a discussion, deepen a relationship, or accelerate a deal.

That’s why events — both in-person and virtual — are ideal for ABM (account-based marketing) and ABX (account-based experience). Events offer an intimate, face-to-face way to engage with specific buyers where you focus on great experiences optimized for specific contacts from the target accounts you’ve selected. It doesn’t get much more personalized than that.

There are two kinds of events: those your company runs, and those that other companies (or organizers) run.

Events you run yourself

In ABX, the key metric for an event isn’t how many people attend; it’s how many of the right people from the right accounts attend — and how much they engage when they’re with you.

With this in mind, a dinner, roundtable, or roadshow-style event may be much more valuable for engagement than the industry’s biggest exhibition. And inviting key leaders or entire teams to your in-house executive briefing center for a whole day can be even better.

The best events tend to share these characteristics:

  • A timely, relevant topic — on a specific pain point or trend.
  • A balanced content mix — not just product talk — think panels, cases, chalk-talks… and fun content that’s not commercial.
  • Third-party participation — customers, experts, analysts, partners, etc.
  • A curated audience — people who will learn from each other.
  • A softer sell — not pushing sales decks to a captive audience.
  • A fun element — pub quiz, wine tasting, BBQ, entertainment…

Many of the best high-level executive events include unique, money-can’t-buy experiences. For example, Apttus held a high-end dinner hosted by celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello, and Marketo once held an event at Club 33, an exclusive members-only club inside Disneyland.

Tips from Maria Pergolino of ActiveCampaign:

No one does high-touch-style events better than Maria. Here are a few tips for 1:1 events:

  • Do an event for just one account — holding it in a venue close to their offices (or even in them!).
  • Get a top executive from the target company to speak — it’s a great way to attract others from the company.
  • Hold a go-live party — When a new customer goes live, hold a party at the client’s offices and invite other teams from across the company (laying the foundation for a future cross-sell).

Who should do the inviting?

In traditional marketing events, sales wants marketing to do the inviting (because they want new prospects) and marketing wants sales to do the inviting (because they have the relationships and will invite people more likely to attend).

As with so many aspects of ABX, marketing and sales must work together to draw up the list of event invitees. The invitation itself then comes from whoever is best placed to make that approach. When a relationship is already there, it will be sales. When not, marketing. Whichever you choose, make it personal!

Tip: If you’re targeting executives, the invitation should come from an executive in your company at the same — or higher — level of seniority.

Events other companies run

Smarter GTM™ programs aren’t confined to your company-owned events. You can also make other events work for you, including those run by partners or by third-party organizers.

You may not be the only hero of these broader events, but you can still use them to develop relationships with your target contacts. A few tips:

  • Set up meetings in advance near the event. This requires a lot of close work with Sales — handholding the process, giving them a list of people you know will be at the event, sending phone and text reminders, etc.
  • Invite your contacts to specific content within the event. For example, to your speaking slot, demo room, or booth activity. The entire event may not be yours, but this part is.
  • Run a side event within or around the event. With the organizer’s permission, hold your own roundtable, dinner, or customer event.
  • Create a VIP track. Make use of the entire event, but guide and curate the experience.
  • Earn the list of attendees. One way to do this is to hold a raffle offering to “Upgrade the Experience” (first class airfare, a luxury suite, limo to and from the airport, VIP pass to the party). Anyone who enters the raffle is a likely attendee at the event — so use the list to reach out to the right ones.
  • Follow up. Nurture the new relationship by extending an invitation to your own dinner, roadshow, or sales meeting.

Whichever way you go, recognize that your prospects usually aren’t at the event just to meet with you. Think about how you might make their visit more enjoyable or effective beyond your own interaction.

Get your copy of my book, The Definitive Guide to Smarter GTM™ with Account Intelligence and ABM/ABX. You can download it here.

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Jon Miller

Former CMO, Demandbase

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