Return on Investment - traditionally is the standard measure of success for B2B marketing. Whether it's social media ads, SEO, sports sponsorships or events, every marketing dollar spent is adding to an inbound sales funnel or creating brand awareness on some level.
According to Kissmetrics, Awareness, Interest, Education and Commitment are the most generic ways to go from marketing campaign to commitment -- commitment being purchase or any goal that your organization sets. In the B2B world, there is traditionally a more segregated sales environment with inside sales reps, targeted and regional account executives and an internal and field based marketing team to support and drive sales efforts.
So how do you (the marketer and budget decision maker) maximize ROI of B2B events?
#1 -- make it clear what you can (AND CAN'T) control.
If events are a new marketing segment for your brand, minimize the risk to entry. Set a clear goal and compare the cost to participate vs. the cost of potential gain. Even if it's a risk, minimize the risk until you can physically prove that events are a lead generator for your business.
If events are traditionally not successful for your brand for other reasons: your sales team doesn't want to attend or doesn't find value in the leads, then it shouldn't be a top priority for your budget.
No matter what your current event initiatives are, beware of the hidden costs.
Cost of sponsorship is just one fraction of the event costs. Your time, preparation and tangible assets will greatly effect cost. Some questions to ask: What is the layout of the event? Will there be additional costs to add booth assets or printed materials that you do not currently have? Post event, do you have a system in place to track and further qualify the sales leads post event OR will that be your responsibility?
Determine what you know, what you can/can't control and assess the risk prior to diviing head first into any event marketing.
#2 -- what priorities are driving the decision to participate in the event?
Is there a hole in your marketing strategy that a specific event will cover? Are you solving for a current problem? Is a specific market (where this event is being held) struggling to meet and grow new leads? Or does your sales staff enjoy golf and continually request golf events no matter who is attending? The following factors must align with your business goals to maximize ROI:
- Demographics of the audience attending - do they align with your buyer personas and decision makers?
- Deliverables from particiating in the event - do you need phone numbers for inside sales reps and will only receive emails from the event host? Do you need a presentation to demonstrate your product and can only afford booth space?
- Cost to participate vs. potential revenue - does this event target mid-sized companies and you need enterprise-sized budgets to support your cost of sale? Are you pivoting to a new decision maker and want as much feedback as possible?
If even one of the above items differs from your initiatives, consider that a red flag. This doesn't mean avoid the event all together, but maybe test it at a smaller investment before jumping in with both feet (and your entire budget).
#3 -- set a goal, dive in, track and measure your success!
You've already clearly defined why this event is important, but now it's time to attach a goal (number) to this event. Quantitative goals are just as important as qualitative ones, but are the not truest form of ROI. Just a few measurable goal examples include:
- Number of qualified leads obtained
- Number of surveys/product touch points/influencer hands on your product
- Amount ($) of revenue generated - which should be at least the cost of investment
Share your goal with your sales team and everyone that will be touching this event -- your social media team, on-site sales executives, inside sales executives -- align all parties to ensure that everyone is cohesively working towards the same goal. Ensure that from planning, to event execution and post event follow up every person is aware the importance of the event and it's effect on company revenue and ROI.
See upcoming SINC USA events here.
What other measurable goals do you use to calculate ROI of events?