Quality Over Quantity: Generating Substantial Leads With Small-Scale Events

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In an exclusive invite-only virtual roundtable held on the 9th of June 2022, business leaders discussed the post-pandemic changes in event based marketing and how companies have leveraged small-scale events to convert leads into clients.

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Marketing has gone through a rapid transformation in the past two years, and marketers have been left with no choice but to adapt and quickly reinvent event based marketing practices. The lead generation practices of the old have lost their lustre, and instead, marketers have relied on previously under-utilized means to capture potential clients. 

Innovative companies have been able to connect with their target audience by using smaller-scale event based marketing strategies to yield great returns. The attending parties may be fewer in number, but the candid nature of these events provides a greater chance to connect with and learn about these leads even before the first sales call. 

  • How have marketing practices changed due to the pandemic? What were some challenges faced?
  • How can companies use small-scale events to reach potential clients and partners?
  • How can marketers effectively and efficiently follow through on leads and turn them into clients?

Well over three years into a new world, marketers are setting their sights on the next normal. Chief among their concerns is how best to reintroduce physical activations with businesses and customers alike increasingly becoming digital-first event based marketing. ‘It’s challenging to get people together. There are still some fears about COVID,’ an executive said. While health risks remain top-of-mind for some, many have simply grown accustomed to and now prefer virtual interaction thanks in no small part to the rise of remote work.

“Virtual roundtables do allow for a lot more engagement and management of the conversation.”

‘I’ve been in the tech industry for a long time, and one of our big personas is engineers. We found that they like road shows, smaller events, particularly for product launches,’ an executive said. Their observation illustrates how different types of events make sense for different stages of a company’s development, including its campaign model and desired outcome. ‘Online event based marketing efforts can’t scale as much as in-person events, like big trade shows,’ the same executive added. Such findings underscore the value of PR and how organisations must adapt, especially when working with technical subject matter. The integration of advocacy into event based marketing efforts and the creation of more intimate audiences may be paramount to success.

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A seasoned marketer often oversees multiple regions and what one executive calls ‘a heterogeneous group of events’ that addresses target accounts in those areas. Teams deploy everything from content-focused strategies, which tackle both current prospects and greenfield, to more social tactics.

By adopting a mix of best event based marketing practices, organisations are able to generate the kind of  conversations they prefer — and can steer in the right direction. ‘As long as I have an attractive concept and venue, where people would want to be there, regardless of who’s hosting, that always greases the wheels in terms of success.’ Evidently, potential guests are still very much human and are eager to engage on a good day out in great company.

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“We used to think, ‘Netflix. Great. There are a million opportunities to watch something. Now, I find myself looking at all the trailers, and by the time I figure out something, I’m over this. I’m just going to bed. More content is not always better.”

‘While we typically do a big annual in-person user conference, we’re going to try roadshows. Smaller, local, in-city,’ said an executive. ‘We’re considering piggybacking. While we have speakers and a venue, we’re adding a second day for prospects.’ Evidently, follow-up is the name of the game. Leaders recognise that the use of outdated metrics may be unavoidable, considering the unique circumstances of the world today, but a conscious effort to pounce on leads always has the potential to deliver results.

Experts widely agree that gimmicks and over-stimulation in event based marketing have lost their lustre. It is the authenticity that audiences are craving. ‘What are the real things that your product can do for them, ensuring it’s the right choice?’ an executive asked. Despite having done their best to not just keep up but set the pace for modern marketing, organisations find themselves now closer to home and the basics: genuine relationship building.

‘Having customers as well as prospects there, it’s almost like a living testimonial or case study,’ the same executive added. Rather than inadvertently preaching to the converted, broader strokes must be taken. ‘It’d be interesting to see how many of those MQLs get to SQLs,’ the executive concluded.

The advent of innovative communications technologies enabled marketers to access an unprecedented amount of digital input, which some argue did more harm than good. With most, if not all, customers having the same choices, how do organisations stay relevant?

The current event based marketing landscape is more complex than ever, and evolving customer demands are doing little to ease tensions. ‘It’s dizzying as a marketer to keep up. You’re having a conversation with a prospect, and they say, “I’m not a decision-maker. You have to talk to my digital transformation team.” The what? Who?’ said an executive.

These losses in translation are not just the result of new roles but the growth of individual customers as well. ‘They have matured and advanced. The fact that you missed that in person, you need to get on a call.’

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‘When the pandemic began, we worked with nurture flows. We were asking event organisers to send us the attendee list, but at one point, people started to identify that they could opt out,’ an executive said.

New customer perceptions of privacy are driving leaders to scale back and re-strategise. In some cases, third parties are an ideal alternative. ‘We give vendors our target accounts, and they go out to look for them, which makes it a lot easier for us,’ the same executive added.

Customers are opening emails less and less, but marketers have observed continued engagement on other, arguably more personal, channels, like SMS. It is apparent that not just a strong sales pitch but care and engagement will pave the way for success for event based marketing strategies.


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