Your B2B Tech EVENT got cancelled. Now What?

I don’t need to reiterate the gravitas of the current situation to any of you. And like you, I am tired of hearing words like ‘unprecedented.’ This is our new reality (for the time being). And we have to adopt. But at the same time, we need to figure out how to respond now, and how we need to prepare ourselves for what comes next. So, let’s start with the immediate question. Your event got cancelled. Now what?

Historically, B2B marketers heavily rely on trade shows, seminars, and events. Data from 2019 shows that over 50% of the tech marketer’s budget was allocated to face to face events. Our sales teams love events. The KPIs are apparent. It’s a default choice.

After the Coronavirus outbreak, when IEEE surveyed 200 B2B marketers worldwide, the response was varied. Interestingly, 46% said they would not re-invest the event budget. I was curious about the result and did an informal survey with a dozen of my clients – and the same sentiment resonated. However, most of them decided to do so because they were not sure what options existed to replace face to face events.

 

WEBINAR – TO DO OR NOT TO DO? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

The natural decision process would suggest replacing Seminars with Webinars. Although it seems perfectly logical, that might not always be a good idea. Don’t get me wrong; a webinar is a great tactic to add to your marketing arsenal. But you can’t replace actual face to face events with a webinar. Mindset and expectations of a prospect or audience are entirely different when they are attending a seminar versus a webinar. You can’t simply replace one with another. Instead of replacing an event with a webinar, think of repositioning and rebranding. Name it differently, relook at the content, and unquestionably, the duration.

If you do decide on the webinar route, take a look at this essential checklist of doing a Webinar properly. Some of you are well versed and experienced with organizing webinars. But if you are not yet a pro, then this is worth reviewing: 

Pre-webinar

First, decide the format. Is it going to be a single speaker slide-set presentation or interview format with one or more expert panellists?  Some of my clients are currently opting for the interview format with a guest speaker, for example, an analyst from IDC.

Whatever you do, please don’t make it a sales pitch. It’s a bad idea under normal circumstances, but especially now – it’s a catastrophic idea. Be relevant to the situation.

Then select a platform. If you are planning a one-off webinar – GoToWebinar or Webex is perfect. But if you are planning to deliver an event-like experience, with multiple breakout rooms, audience interactions etc. – then check out On24.

Now, one of the toughest parts – audience acquisition. Have a goal in mind for the number of attendees and double it for the target registration number. Use all the channels; LinkedIn Direct Sponsored Content is working well for our clients – give it a try. To ensure a decent attendance – please include a calendar invite in your confirmation and reminder mail.

Conducting the webinar

For the webinar – please don’t use Airpods or other wireless headsets. Invest in a quality wired microphone. Bluetooth is another point of failure.  You can also get a free account with an AI-based background noise removal software like Krisp. Keep a backup computer ready in a different location with the presentation loaded – in case you face any technical difficulty. Formally divide the roles – who is tech support, who is introducing the speakers. By the way – Open mic Q&A is a recipe for disaster.

Post-webinar

Make sure you follow up. Send the on-demand version to those who missed it. That’s the first step of nurturing.

 

WHAT ELSE?

Webinars are all well and great, but that can’t be the only solution for marketing. I am not going to state the ‘blinding flash of obvious’ statement – let’s go digital. Channel is essential, but more important is to have clarity in this new market and align our marketing strategy around that. Let me cover some vital points.

Re-discover

Usually, when we do an Audience prioritization exercise, we plot all the target personas in a matrix based on the power of their push or pull—means who can initiate the procurement and who’s got the ability to veto the decision. In the new reality, expect an immense pressure of expense control, resulting in a shift of balance in power dynamics. Finance and procurement will have much more power in the decision process. And if you are like 99% of the IT organizations, you are not ready to have a hybrid cloud or hyper-convergence conversation with a CFO. We need to get prepared at a much faster speed.

Next, please revisit your buyer’s journey model. And focus on the trigger part. It will be completely different sets of triggers from the usual circumstances. For example, the Dx initiatives might get expedited or moving to a managed hybrid cloud service – due to movement restrictions become a priority. Re-evaluate – and find the use cases for a new world. Discuss with an analyst. Keep a tab on emerging use cases.

If you are running an ABM campaign or Industry vertical focused content marketing campaign – you need to readjust the strategy. Some verticals, like Aviation, Hospitality, are now struggling to survive. Most probably they won’t be looking for an IT investment now. Differently – healthcare and public sectors are currently occupied with many urgent issues.

Reprioritize your account by intent signal, not only the content consumption based intent signals. That’s going to phase out anyway within two years when chrome bans all the third-party cookies. But also look at the install base or current tech stack data to formulate the immediate needs of the organization. We use DemandMatrix’s technographic data to analyze the intent of our clients. Here’s how that can help:

Intent data with Technographics enable you to prioritize your accounts

Personalization and segmentation are the two pillars of any B2B Marketing and Sales campaign. Currently, the main challenge for B2B sales and marketing teams is prioritizing their accounts. It is difficult with thousands of accounts to segment your outreach and target the right audience with the most relevant message.

Technographics actionable data means you know if your accounts are using direct or indirect competing technology products. You can also get to know the technology landscape of your named accounts and if they’re an early adopter to IoT or cloud computing.

Intent data identify the companies with the highest propensity and make an informed business decision to buy and delivers a more accurate picture of your total addressable market TAM

Intent data and technographic-backed data Intelligence enables Marketers and Sales teams better comprehend their customer’s and future prospects with technology-buying behaviours and technology-adoption patterns.

Focus on content strategy

Now let’s talk about content strategy. From TechTarget to IDG – every publication is reporting that content consumptions are up in the era of ‘stay home all the time’. But, let’s not get too excited and pump out content in full force. Thought leadership is one of the darling terms for our Industry. But try to strike a balance between thought leadership and buyer enablement content. What do I mean by Buyer Enablement Content – these are like benchmarking tools, TCO calculators, and most importantly – providing the tools to the IT department to make a case in front of the CxOs.

Scan through your content to readjust the tonality. May be humour is right in ordinary times – but now it might be considered as frivolous.

Clean up your marketing house

Let’s clean up our databases. In our heart, we all know that a teenager’s dorm room is cleaner than our marketing automation or CRM databases.

Use a soft ping tool like Kickbox to get rid of all bad data, reduce your bounce rates. Then isolate the emotional un-subscribers, people who are receiving your communications, but not engaging for a long time.

Re-evaluate your outreach channels. Try out multiple attribution models and prune out the non-effective ones.

Every modern B2B Tech marketer’s nightmare is – multiple martech tools, but not connected. You can use the downtime to engage your internal web team or outsource to connect the services.

Support sales to adjust

If you are worried about the current situation, have a chat with someone in your sales department. Most of them are facing anxiety attacks. I had a few discussions with sales directors of some IT vendors in the last couple of days. And the immediate problem is for them is how to follow up on the open proposals. You know – the awkward time after sales has sent out the proposal, SoW, SLA etc. How do you follow up with the client under these circumstances? Help them out by providing relevant content nuggets, so they don’t have to ask the dreaded question – ‘is there any update?’ Instead, they can share the content and stay at the top of mind of your prospect. Use this time to roll out Social Sales platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Please help them to modify their run-off-the-mill slide-sets ready for web presentations.

The bottom line is – we are going to suffer one way or another. But how much our organization will suffer is vastly dependent on how we communicate in this new world. And marketing needs to play its part, with resilience and clarity.

This article is from a live broadcast of a webinar which you can register and watch here, there is an interesting Q&A at the end which is not included here.

This article was written by:

Anol Bhattacharya,
CEO,
GETIT

Ajit Desai,
Director of Revenue Marketing,
DemandMatrix

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