It’s tough out there – and getting tougher. If B2B marketing budgets aren’t being cut to the bone they’re certainly being fiercely interrogated, with clients intent on wringing every last cent of value from their marketing spend. And why wouldn’t they? You’re doing the same. We all are. The part challenge, part opportunity, and all important, this corporate cloth-cutting is taking place in the context of a new non-linear type of B2B sales ecosystem. A new fluid, flexible, interconnected model that’s evolved in response to major changes in the B2B sales and marketing landscape.
Changes that reflect:
- The shift in the role of B2B marketing from just awareness raising to lead generation and even deal closing – is driven largely by marketing technology and new ways of working in response to the global pandemic.
- The fact is that nearly three-quarters of buyers have already conducted their research by the time they engage with sales. And this research is driven by new technology and what’s called the dark funnel – hidden points of product evaluation and consideration that exist beyond attribution and among on and offline networks, communities, events, and research. So it’s harder than ever before to influence your buyer’s opinions until they’ve already reached a decision and are looking for validation.
- More contributors to the B2B decision-making purchase process. The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision-makers.
- Ever stretching decision-making timelines.
With the traditional B2B marketing funnel so fundamentally remodeled, Gartner now defines six B2B buying “jobs” customers must go through in order to complete a purchase successfully:
- Problem identification. “We need to do something.”
- Solution exploration. “What’s out there to solve our problem?”
- Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
- Supplier selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?”
- Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
- Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”
However, with your sales and marketing teams often not entering the conversations until buyers have identified problems and explored solutions, what does that mean when it comes to your event planning? Can you be confident in the role that events play in your new value-based demand generation? How can you shape your events to make it as easy as possible for your customers to cover as many of the six buying tasks as possible and for you to maximize your chances of winning their business? Here are three straightforward methods that will aid you in breaking away from the conventional model that is struggling to adapt to shifting customer behaviors, and begin operating in a manner that is suitable for a fluctuating market.
Think like a modern B2B event company
It’s time to build out your event strategy – to think like an event brand.
Moreover, you must focus on non-sequential methods for addressing the six tasks that B2B buyers typically go through whenever you organize, contribute to, partner with, or attend an event as a delegate. Instead of adopting a traditional lead generation mindset, your marketing efforts should target these non-sequential methods.
The easier you make it for people to navigate the purchase process with timely, relevant, and helpful information the more likely it is that they’ll commit to high-value, low-regret deals.
Act like a modern B2B event company
An event brand that obsesses over its audience and understands the power of an integrated, aligned, and inclusive marketing strategy. An event brand with crystal clear objectives and defined channels, personas, and messaging. One that’s primed to challenge existing opinions and help you guide your customers toward making the right decisions by building trust.
A relational event company
- Get personal – People don’t want to talk to a brand. They want to talk to real human beings. They want your stories, your insight, the benefit of your wisdom – and they want it personal. Not just from the CEO but from the real people representing the brand, the company
- Build a position of trust – Dare to stand apart, dare to differentiate, and dare to share the smartest sector thinking. Dare to make that difference vivid, visible and valuable through problem-solving thought leadership
- Be generous – Generous with your time, your knowledge, and your support. Q&As, webinars, masterclasses, giveaways, anything that adds value to the conversation and that people will thank you for, even if it’s not there and then. We’re very much in “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”, territory here
- Don’t be shy – Go big with email. But go wisely. Before, during, and after your events, use email to promote, sell, inform, to gather feedback. At 38x ROI and 40x more effective for social acquisition, you’d be crazy not to
- Let clients refer you – Happy clients are your secret sales weapon. In the same way, you’d invite them to your Sales Kickoffs, it’s always wise to think of ways to get them involved in client-facing events too
- Be a great partner – Social proof is a superpower. You can experience countless and often unexpected benefits when you invite excellent guest stars to participate in your events.
B2B sales and marketing have changed – there is no handoff from marketing to sales, or from digital to in-person. B2B sales and B2B marketing run side by side. With each other, and with buyers’ own self-managed research and decision-making processes. Are you changing too? Are you collaborating with a proficient, digitally-minded events partner to assist you in making that change?
Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help you deliver all the right-time, right-person, right-message event value your buyers now demand.