Events are a great tactic for B2B brand activation, which is a major focus for marketers at the moment. So, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on executing an effective brand activation tactic for B2B companies.
Why focus on B2B brand activation?
The world has gone a bit crazy for brand activation. Not that it's particularly new as a topic (experiential, promotions, conferences, webinars and many different types of other events are all rolled up in the tactical bundle for brand activation) but somehow giving it an official name and a focus has got marketers across the globe waving the brand activation flag.
Regardless of the why marketers are running through the halls of their company looking for the next brand activation platform, there's no debate that events are a great vehicle for brand activation.
With events as your vehicle in mind, let's get into the details of 3 simple steps for a successful B2B brand activation.
1: pre-event prospect preparation
If you're planning to use your event for brand activation (and for B2B this usually means a demo, a trial or some other sort of sampling or experiential activity) then you'll get the best results if your audience comes to the event knowing what to expect:
Tell them about the activations that will be available when you're recruiting them to come to the event, that way they won't feel ambushed by your sales people when they're asked to sign up for something on-site.
Build your brand activations into your event value proposition, the chance to get their hands on the latest technology, a free 30 day trial of a premium product, all these things can be positioned as selling points to incentivize people to show up.
Harvest low hanging fruit before the event even starts. Get your best prospects committed before they even get through the door with the opportunity to pre-book demos etc. in advance.
2: Add The Buyer journey to the on-site experience
A rookie error when designing an event is to view your room as just that, a room. By being smart with your layout, you can apply the theoretical customer journey approach to your real world brand activation experience:
Phase your event space so informative/awareness type assets are immediately available at the entrance to bring curious prospects up to speed with the offering if they're not 100% familiar with your brand.
Structure your event content like you would the rest of your buyer journey, start light with entertaining, short talks filled with interesting facts, soundbites and takeaways that increase awareness and then start to go deeper, encourage interactivity and engagement with formats like workshops, panel discussions and roundtables.
Ensure that you save your most commitment intensive and valuable brand activations (e.g. free trials that require a credit card or lead to automatic subscriptions) for later in the event, when you have had the chance to demonstrate your brand's value and reassure your prospect that they can trust you.
3: effective follow up
No matter how carefully you plan your B2B brand activation event, sometimes fate just takes an opportunity away from you. You spent loads of time courting the uncatchable perfect prospect to get them to come to your event and then they get called away halfway through for an office crisis or a sick kid. All is not lost, effective follow up could save the day:
Tailor follow up for each attendee based on their place on your event's buyers journey. Don't send blanket messages to everyone, as you'll need to take a different tack with the lady who did an on-site demo (go for the trial/sale!) to the approach you'd take with the quiet guy who sat at the back saying nothing and left before the end (a valuable white paper is probably more where he's at).
Ask for the brand activation after the fact. There are a whole bunch of reasons someone might not have done what you wanted them to on site. Maybe they're cautious, maybe they didn't like your sales guy's cologne. By making sure that your post-event follow up provides a relevant call to action, you give yourself a second chance and a logical next step with that prospect.
Build the event attendance into your profiling. Even if you don't get much movement with a prospect immediately after the event (and we all know sometimes B2B sales cycles are looonnng!), you can still use the event to continue deepening the relationship. You know what event topics persuaded the prospect to come, so you can build that information into their profile and tailor subsequent content offerings around those topics.
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