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Event Marketing

B2B Event Marketing Strategy Guide

A2Z Team June 24, 2024
Table of Contents
9 min read

Discover the power of B2B event marketing and why it’s essential for business success. Explore different types of B2B events, effective strategies, and tips to ensure your events drive engagement and deliver results.

B2B Event Marketing and Its Many Benefits

A rather broad term, “B2B event marketing” refers to all gathering-based experiences that allow organizations to promote products (goods and/or services) to other organizations. While yesterday’s B2B event marketing tended to center exclusively around in-person conferences and trade shows, today’s B2B event marketing encompasses an extraordinarily large number of live and virtual experiences to help you reach an even larger number of potential objectives. In short, you simply cannot overestimate the significance of B2B event marketing in the modern business landscape.

From generating sales leads to driving sales conversions, B2B event marketing can do wonders to further progress toward any number of your overarching business goals. Because event attendees are often already deeply engaged in your industry of operation and/or reasonably interested in the products that you offer, the leads generated by event marketing are generally more qualified and higher in quality than the leads generated by other forms of marketing. And when it comes to precipitating valuable sales opportunities, event marketing, with its direct “face to face” selling and live demonstration capabilities, can lead to considerable profit generation on site.

B2B event marketing is also particularly adept at enhancing consumer engagement and furthering brand awareness with a highly specific target audience. In terms of consumer engagement, the personal interaction that occurs at an event can go an incredibly long way toward connecting intimately with consumers. In particular, the live event setting makes it incredibly easy to solicit immediate feedback and tailor communication to meet specific consumer wants, needs, and expectations. When delivered in tandem with your company name, logo, and other essential branding elements, the personalized touch of event marketing can cement brand recognition and improve brand favorability. Among existing customers, event marketing has proven effective at strengthening brand loyalty and fostering long-term customer relationships.

Why B2B Event Marketing is Important

The reasons behind the prevalence of B2B event marketing are both diverse and fluid. While some point to the memorable nature of interacting directly with a warm and knowledgeable company representative, others recognize the exceptional power of sharing a unique and memorable experience with members of a likeminded group. Whatever the specific reasons, B2B event marketing has become an exceptional tool for organizations that want to further market presence and promote business growth.

Event sponsors, participants, and attendees alike value opportunities to…

  • Establish and/or solidify key industry and/or customer relationships
  • Build a sense of community around a particular brand
  • Conduct market research to better understand consumers and/or competitors
  • Over company and/or product education and/or training.
  • Demonstrate leadership and/or innovation in a particular industry or field.

For all these reasons and more, organizations and the marketing professionals who represent them are turning to event marketing in large numbers. In fact, recent statistics from the Harvard Business Review show that 93% of event marketers report that the companies they serve prioritize hosting events. And these companies are reaping some very real rewards. A survey by theEconomic Times determined that 91% of customers feel more optimistic about a company’s products after actively participating in a brand-based experience that involves those products.

The research of marketing software leaders HubSpot and G2 echoes the findings of the Harvard Business Review and the Economic Times. HubSpot has found that 65% of company owners who incorporate event marketing into their broader marketing strategy experience a boost in sales. And G2 has found that marketing at trade shows and other physical events constitutes the third most effective way of acquiring customers, ranking only behind search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. However, it is important to note that online event promotion and reportage can positively impact SEO and generate a tremendous amount of social media buzz.

Types of B2B Event Marketing

As previously mentioned, there is certainly no shortage of modern event options for a savvy B2B marketer who wants to promote an organization and/or the goods and services that it offers. In fact, wise marketing professionals and chief administrators will choose specific events for their tactical ability to attain desirable results or further essential goals.

Some of the most important traditional and not-so-traditional events for B2B marketing include…

  • Conferences – Relatively larger events, conferences routinely incorporate many of the event types listed below as essential elements. They also tend to feature expert speakers and celebrated luminaries in various fields. Conferences can cater to general consumers, industry professionals, or both. Many conferences take the form of specialized forums, which cover topics and/or address issues that are exclusive to a particular field of practice, operations, or study.
  • Trade Shows – Also relatively large and inclusive, trade shows bring organizations together to display and demonstrate new products, generate quality sales leads, and gain industry credibility.
  • Exhibitions – Individual exhibitions of organizations and their products often occur at individual booths during conferences and trade shows, but they can also exist as standalone events. Like conferences and trade shows, exhibitions can be conducted on-site and in-person within a physical venue or online and virtually within the digital space.
  • Roadshows – Rather than relying on videoconferencing and other forms of long-distance technology, roadshows bring physical exhibitions to audiences in different geographical locations by taking them on the road.
  • Seminars – Like speeches and exhibitions, seminars are common components of large conferences but can also stand alone. Always interactive by definition and typically intimate by design, these events gather small groups of participants together to intelligently discuss one or more stated subjects. When it is conducted online, a seminar becomes a webinar.
  • Workshops – Even more interactive than a seminar, a workshop stresses hands-on experience and learning by doing. Although virtual workshops often present distinct and significant challenges, workshops can also take place online.
  • Recruiting Events – From general job fairs to gatherings that are exclusive to a particular industry or company, recruiting events do more than help employers and prospective employees find one another. They can provide excellent opportunities to build brand awareness and further your marketing efforts.
  • Product Launch Events – Marketers strategically design product launches to present and promote new product offerings. These events often use live demonstrations and/or distribute product samples to showcase a product and demonstrate its effectiveness.  
  • Industry or Company Awards and Recognitions – Ceremonial events that recognize excellence provide ample opportunities to enhance company and brand reputation. The celebratory nature of these events and their focus on outstanding industry accomplishments makes them extraordinary vehicles of positive promotion.
  • Industry or Company Dinners – Like awards ceremonies, industry and company dinners are generally causes for achievement recognition and general celebration. Although they are often quite small, the invitation lists for these events are typically full of high-priority individuals such as top executives and important customers.
  • Networking Events – From causal cocktail parties to far more formal meetups, networking events can take many forms. For smart B2B marketers, these events offer ample opportunities for establishing connections and facilitate interactions among the leaders of organizations and both their existing and potential customers.

B2B Event Marketing Strategies That Ensure Success

Different events for different organizations with different goals will inevitably require different approaches to B2B marketing. However, the general strategic guidelines outlined below can help any marketing professional or chief administrator create and manage successful B2B events:

  • Identify Relevant and Achievable Objectives – Travelers without a firm destination in mind are highly unlikely to arrive at a desirable location. Similarly, a B2B event marketer without clearly stated goals is unlikely to achieve success. As A2Z contributor Jarred Abbott detailed in his article “How to Set Event Goals,” goal setting can help you define a number of critical event factors including who you want to attend, who you want to engage your audience, and what you want your audience to do after the event.
  • Prioritize Event Promotion – If they want to get the most promotional ROI for each event, B2B marketers must promote each event with care. We have already discussed the ways in which social media engagement can promote marketing events, which then promote social media engagement. One key to setting this chain reaction in motion is to begin your social media event marketing well in advance of the event date. Event marketer Daria Knupp presents a variety of associated techniques in their article “3 Key Ways to Promote Your Event on Social Media” including selecting the right social media platforms, using event hashtags, and enlisting the help of powerful social media influencers.
  • Associate Your Event with Exclusive Offers – You can get a leg up on your pre-event promotions by offering early bird discounts on your social media platforms and/or official company website. This is a great way to generate a sense of urgency about your event and encourage early registrations. The exclusive offer also tops the A2Z Events team’s insightful list of “16 Event Promotion Ideas.” The article specifically recommends giving event attendees incentives in the form discounts and “freebies” such as reduced admission pricing, access to local attractions, valuable attendee gift bags, and the chance to win even more valuable prizes.

According to B2B event marketing experts, other best practices and practical tips include encouraging user-generated content and taking advantage of blogs, videos, and podcasts. In the marketing world, few things are more sought after and difficult to obtain than word of mouth (WOM). By encouraging event attendees to make posts and share videos, you can jump start your WOM efforts and perhaps even capture lighting in a bottle by “going viral.” Whether they are created by internal team members or external customers/business partners, blog posts and videos are remarkable tools of promotion for any organization, its products, and its affiliated events. When it comes to promoting, covering, and discussing events, wise B2B marketers have learned to leverage the power of the popular podcast format.

Additional Things to Consider When Planning an Event Marketing Campaign

As digital technology made virtual events more and more viable, B2B event marketers became quite enamored with delivering experiences in the digital realm. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit with its social distancing imperatives that made the virtual environment the only venue for event marketing. However, the return of in-person events has become one of the leading marketing trends in 2024. Experts have determined that the face-to-face experiences at physical gatherings foster deeper connections that more than justify their increased cost and level of complexity. In short, there is simply no replacement for being together with other human beings in the same place at the same time. Many B2B event marketers are hedging their bets by concentrating on hybrid events that allow people to attend either physically or virtually.

While in-person meetings harken back to simpler times, many of the other emerging trends in B2B event marketing rely upon the very latest technological advancement. Like nearly every other aspect of contemporary society, event planning and execution is evolving rapidly with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Among other applications, marketers are using AI to answer posed questions and offer personalized recommendations for event attendees. Other forms of state-of-the-art technology driving the future of B2B event marketing include virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) and event management software. While VR tech can place digital event attendees in nearly any environment, AR tech can bring virtual elements into “real world” venues. An indispensable tool for creating, facilitating, and optimizing modern event experiences, event management software can help with everything from registration and ticketing to and post-event analysis and evaluation. This software can integrate seamlessly with existing customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and automates many time-consuming tasks.

High-tech tools and specialized professionals are also transforming the future of B2B event marketing with data analytics and its associated insights. These insights take much of the guesswork out of event marketing strategy by precisely measuring the results of each campaign and providing accurate return on investment (ROI) figures by tracking multiple metrics in real time. In terms of quantifiable data, the event marketers of the past could collect little more than registration, attendance, lead generation, and sales numbers to chart the relative success or failure of a particular event and its internal sessions and gatherings. But now, savvy marketers can evaluate any number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect directly upon relevant campaign objectives. Common KPIs include those that chart the ongoing flow of website traffic and social media activity involving the event under scrutiny.

In Conclusion

As a B2B marketing professional or a chief administrator of any kind, you owe it to yourself to investigate the event marketing approach and its significant and diverse benefits. If you fail to grasp the power of this highly effective marketing strategy, you just might lose your competitive edge to those that do!

By choosing the right B2B marketing experiences for your target audiences and adhering to the general guidelines and specific best practices outlined above, you can plan and execute a highly effective B2B event marketing campaign that can achieve any number of key objectives for your organization.