Certain industries, such as sales and marketing, are flush with events. There’s something happening almost every day of the week - Saturday and Sunday included! - that the workers of these industries can attend or sign up for to help better themselves, connect with others, and learn something new.
This is great for salespeople and marketers, but the rest of the business world isn’t always so lucky. Most industries are flawed when it comes to events, especially if they’re relying on just one or two large conferences, or trade shows, each year. It’s these big events that do little in the way of helping your own business flourish - especially when there are so many other things happening at the event to distract fellow attendees from what you have to offer.
That’s why it’s extremely beneficial to become a business that throws your own events, virtually or in-person. At A Better Jones we’ve helped numerous companies establish themselves more firmly in their industry by hosting a panel discussion, or meet-and-greet. We’ll discuss the secrets to event success in a future article, but for now let’s focus on all the great reasons your company should be organizing your own!
Advantages of Hosting Events
If your company is looking for a way to stand out in your industry, and compete with the big dogs, hosting an event is an excellent way to gain more attention. And this is true for almost any industry, but B2B especially.
It’s particularly difficult for your business to be different from everyone else in the B2B world, because rarely does one company do something that’s radically unique, in comparison with the rest of the bunch. Using an event to show how much you care about your customers can automatically place your business at the top of consumers’ minds, however, and highlight you as an industry leader.
An invite to a panel discussion, that focuses on a new pain point affecting your industry, will be greatly received, particularly when no one else in your industry is hosting a similar event. The recipients of those invites will be delighted someone is taking the time to address this new issue, and intrigued to hear thought leaders break down the problem and provide answers to it.
And if you create a memorable experience that allows attendees to develop a deeper connection with your business, the event will serve your company long after it’s over. Take time, before and after the discussion, to strike up a conversation with as many attendees as possible. Talk to them about their top concerns, and promise a follow-up, either with you, or your sales team. The event can be an excellent lead generator, as well as a great relationship builder.
Don’t forget the benefit such an event gives you in providing a way to connect with speakers, either. Feel free to reach out to friends in your industry and ask them to speak at an event, but don’t be afraid to ‘cold call’ a thought leader or influencer you’ve never met before to see if they’d be willing to partake in the discussion.
You’d be surprised at how open such a person will be to join your company for an event - they’re typically grateful for the exposure such a talk will give them, especially with a new audience, via your own channel of customers and connections.
Host the event successfully and you’ll end up developing a very useful relationship with an industry leader!
Events Can Be Cheap, Yet Packed With Value
The hypothetical cost of an event tends to be one of the biggest reasons a business won’t even consider hosting one. But we’ve learned time and time again that you can keep expenses low by getting scrappy and inventive with your event plan.
While a booth at a trade show can cost your company thousands of dollars and get you little return on investment (ROI), the total cost of your own event can be as low as you’d like, and it will grant you a wealth of opportunity to do business with others.
Whether you’re throwing a live event or broadcasting a webinar, here are some ways to keep things cheap, yet highly valuable to both the registrants and your company.
If you’re a B2B startup there’s a good chance your audience is fairly low in numbers. Which is completely acceptable, especially considering most startups are founded with no one in their audience, other than family and friends!
This is a plus in that you won’t need a huge auditorium or expensive rental space for your event - instead, consider striking a deal with a local WeWork or networking space for your Q&A session, or speaker panel. The price of renting space at a WeWork depends on location, but many of them offer free rentals, and those that charge a cost are generally very affordable.
Once you’ve got the location locked down, consider the food and drink you’ll be offering at your event. This, too, can be pretty inexpensive. Don’t turn to a pricey catering company to serve something to eat - instead, turn to a local grocer such as Whole Foods and purchase some elegantly arranged trays of food that you can pick up on your own.
Same goes for drink - simply purchase an array of seltzer waters, beer, and wine to offer the crowd. Some states require a bartender, or someone with a liquor handling license, to distribute the alcohol, so be sure to check into that, as well.
Such a low-key event will definitely be appreciated by the guests and attendees, and gives a great opportunity for mingling. It’s a win-win for the crowd, and the host!
Another terrific way to host a worthwhile event is by utilizing webinars. Content and demand marketing platform BrightTALK found that a whopping 91 percent of B2B professionals prefer webinars as their top source of content.
The real beauty in webinars is that they’re easy to run, and great ROI. Sign your company up for a free trial with a quality platform such as Crowdcast or GoToWebinar, and it won’t be long before you’ve got the system mastered.
Then start thinking about the message you want to convey with your virtual discussions, and which speakers you have in your back pocket to help deliver that message. Maybe it’s someone from your team, or network, or perhaps it’s someone you’ve never met, but saw give a riveting speech at a local conference.
A great way to boost your first webinar is by matching a leader from your organization with an “outside source” - i.e. someone who’s knowledgeable about your business or industry but works elsewhere - so the two can offer different views on a certain topic. This can give the viewers a new way to look at something important in your industry, and show your audience that your company is working with thought leaders to find solutions to their clients’ problems.
And again, we’ll share helpful tips and tricks to acing the webinar format in an upcoming article, but take a look at the webinar platforms mentioned above, in the meantime, to start formulating a plan for your business.
Reap Event Benefits in the Future
Once you’ve wrapped up a live event or webinar, sit back and watch as your company’s influence steadily rises . . . but not for too long! Add to the prosperity of the event by developing content around it.
Share a video of the discussion on YouTube, write blog content based off questions and concerns from the audience, post pictures on social media. All of this will leave attendees, and those who couldn’t make it, anxious for your next event.
And don’t forget to maintain those new relationships you created - check in regularly to see what you can do for them, and vice versa. You never know when such a connection can come in handy down the road.
We know the thought of throwing your first company event can be intimidating, but we’re here to help. Contact us via email@example.com for advice on getting the ball rolling!