Event marketing is an expensive component of a go-to-market strategy. Sponsoring industry conferences and setting up exhibition booths eat up tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds/Euros from scarce growth budgets. The pressure is on to make it all work and bring in new business.
How can businesses improve the chance of success in event marketing? The key is to look at event projects as integrated marketing campaigns. Don’t just “show up” and expect things to come together.
At Adastra our experience of working with fintech and payments innovators has been that the novelty and tech-focus of the brands can paradoxically work against running a smooth event campaign. This is because there is a pressure to show off innovation, so every event is different, instead of being able to practice exhibiting and demonstrating your brand and solution consistently.
Meanwhile, the “tech” in fintech can mean that a lot of the brands are still in startup phases and the team has been newly assembled with a manic timetable of releases, pilots, and international sales targets. Taken together these factors mean extra care needs to be taken by the marketing management to align and motivate everyone to get the most out of your sponsorship of an event.
In this article we focus on exhibiting at industry conferences and pick out some of the areas that are worth double checking in your planning.
1. Internal communications
Your colleague sees you wheeling your suitcase out of the office: “It’s not even 5pm yet, where are you off to, somewhere nice?”
But if you’re leaving to staff your booth at an exhibition, this question should never happen. Why? Because everyone around your team should have a very clear picture of your events diary literally months ahead.
Everyone has something to contribute to an event, whether it’s calling customers to invite them, contributing to press and analyst resources and interviews, feeding back on brochures, or supporting colleagues with prepping their elevator pitch. The more people you involve, the better.
Tip for marketing management: do “mass” internal communications with repeat reminders about where you are going, and why everyone should care.. AND follow up with 1-1 conversations to coordinate all likely stakeholders and ask for contributions long before it becomes last minute.
By empowering everyone with advance information, and inviting collaboration early, you avoid the risk that events become seen in a siloed way as “just a sales team gig” or “just something marketing are doing with free pens”.
2. Polishing sales communication skills
Don’t forget to bring everyone together to define what your message is for the event, and how to present it well.
Your sales team are hired for their communication skills, and you should put your best talent front and centre at events. However, general skills can always be honed on specific elevator pitches, and each event is likely to have a particular mix of audience and solution that you need to speak to.
Sales teams that receive coaching from management, and get encouraged to share their skills always say it’s a valuable use of time, and perform better in events.
Meanwhile, pre-event communications preparation is a great opportunity to pass on ideas and training to less experienced sales colleagues, as well as give more of a direct customer’s eye view to the marketers designing your mass communications in email and advertising.
3. New collateral
Your business should have at least minimum viable sales collateral for all your main solutions, as well as for the brand in general (“About us”).
This includes print brochures (yes – even if you are a digital brand – you need this), slideshows, graphics, and datasheets.
When was the last time you audited all this collateral? The chances are some of it could do with a refresh, and other parts have become inconsistent as individual sales reps have tailored bits to their preferred pitch. An event is an excellent opportunity to think ahead about a particular region, language, industry vertical, solution, or go-to-market message, and create all-new collateral to put in front of customers.
Having the event deadline – or rather a print deadline quite a bit ahead of that date – is a good way of focusing the mind to stop putting it off and get this important sales support material produced!
As with practicing elevator pitches, teams invariably agree it’s a valuable use of time to sit marketing and sales down together round the table and prioritize improvements to collateral that’s being produced.
Events are all about face to face networking. But you absolutely shouldn’t be passive about it. Don’t just show up and see who’s there: be prepared!
Outreach work includes:
- Systematically contacting your prospects and customers to invite them to the event: valuable if you are presenting a talk, if you have free or discounted tickets, or if it creates a convenient opportunity for a face to face meeting;
- Obtaining a list of journalists and analysts who are attending the event, and proactively setting appointments for interviews;
- Seeing who else is exhibiting and contacting them for possible marketing partnerships, or even selling across to others in your industry;
- Thinking generally about who might be interested in this event, and using social media to spread the word, thereby showing off your sponsorship and demonstrating your position in the industry.
As with all our recommendations, advance preparation and sharing out the work are the keys to making this work.
5. Content for the millions
We just talked about proactively contacting people you can meet at the event… but the vast majority of your commercial audience will not be at this event. That’s no reason not to show them that you were there.
Event photography is the most obvious case here: if you’ve got a lovely booth design featuring your brand imagery, with your most gorgeous people (the CEO and your sales management!), why not get some photos and show the world. Photos from the event are really useful for social media, blog and web page content, brochures, and PR. It’s amazing how often this is completely forgotten by events teams.
If your business relates to partnerships and openness to the ecosystem, be sure to get photos of meetings and conversations that cross over brands. This gives your partner’s marketing team material to tweet / email out, spreading your brand to their followers.
Other content you should consider getting out of your event includes:
- Adapt conference talks into a white paper or webinar
- Email follow-ups communicating highlights from the conference
- Research surveys or sentiment analysis fuelling blog posts
- Video interviews from the booth, or videos of your sales team demonstrating things
If the only way to get your campaign message is to be there at the event, then it’s a missed opportunity for your wider marketing. Plan to create pre- and post-event content marketing and you’ll get a lot more mileage out of your event investment.
As we’ve seen, there is a lot to plan and execute when it comes to an integrated marketing event. Marketing event managers are unsung heroes and deserve our respect for their organisation skills and energy. Look for ways you can lend them a hand!
Zooming out one level from the marketing tactics, the business culture that makes an event work is collaboration: events are not just by and for the sales team, and they are not just the domain of field marketing. All sorts of people around your business need to be on board with the project, to present your brand as strongly as you can.
Article by George Baily, Adastra Fintech Marketing – Follow @AdastraUK
To get further practical tips about making a success of your event campaigns, visit: https://adastra-marketing.com/marketing-support-services-for-fintech-events/