Digital marketing gets a lot of attention, but trade shows, business conferences, and in-person events are still profitable marketing channels for B2B businesses — especially those in the financial services sector. Next year, the global trade show market is expected to be valued at over $40 billion.
Despite this reality, many organizations have reduced their event budgets both in response to the lack of in-person events in recent years, and shifts in the economic landscape. Still, it’s possible for financial services companies to make the most out of their lean event budgets by using these account-based strategies
What to Know Before You Go
Traditionally, marketers plan their pre-event marketing activities around the attendee list provided by the event. If you don’t have any other data to go by, it’s better than nothing, but marketing based on attendee lists alone isn’t an ideal approach. There are often too many attendees to craft a personalized campaign, and the list by itself doesn’t tell you which attendees are interested in your offerings.
You can narrow it down by using data to understand which attendees are potential customers.
Smart tech solutions can shine the light on which attendees are already:
- Engaging with your website
- Reading about topics relevant to your brand
- Researching your services and offerings
AI-driven platforms that can identify and predict buyer intent can also take it a step further and tell you which attendees match your in-market ideal customer profile. These are potential customers that are:
- Most likely to need your products or services
- Most likely to be profitable for you
- Most likely to be satisfied with your products or services
- Ready to do business now
Armed with these insights, you can skip sending out generic, forgettable (and spammy!) email blast to the entire attendee list. Focus on targeted, personalized pre-event outreach to your highest priority prospects. This targeted marketing drums up more meaningful engagement — such as booking a meeting or seeking a dinner conversation during the event.
By combining the attendee list with intent data, you can prepare for a business conference by:
- Getting to know your potential customers
- Capturing their interest with personalized outreach, and
- Making a visit to your booth a “must”
You can lay the groundwork for….
At the Event
Thanks to your pre-event research, you’ll know who your ideal customers are — including what they care about most and your most-relevant offerings. This thorough understanding translates into fruitful conversations with buyers.
This information is also valuable for shaping your brand’s presence at the event. Understanding your customers’ needs can help you craft messaging that will attract and resonate with buyers.
Handing out pens, stress balls, or other branded swag is a marketing activity typically seen at events, but the cost of those knicknacks comes out of your limited budget… and they don’t do much to move the needle. They usually wind up in the trash.
What customers do want is to have meaningful interactions with a brand that understands their problem, knows what they need to solve it, and is eager to offer education and solutions. Consider reallocating the swag budget to bring in more decision makers, and create a space where customers and prospects can have discussions with experts that can help them find the services or offerings they’re looking for.
Once you’ve arrived back in the office, it’s time to follow up on the meaningful conversations and engagement you’ve had with your prospects.
All of those interactions become valuable data points. Paired with the data that tells you who your in-market ideal customers are, you have an even more complete picture of what your customers look like — and what kind of messaging they want to hear.
Use these insights to follow up with attendees, using personalized campaigns and outreach that speaks to their specific needs and interests.
Don’t forget to measure the ROI of your events. After running post-event campaigns, like display ads or targeted emails, measure the performance on each channel to determine which was most effective at reaching event attendees.
You can also test different kinds of messaging and see which resonated best. This will help you sharpen your event strategy, and find out what’s most effective for driving engagement post-event.
Digital may be the most influential marketing channel, and it definitely isn’t going away, but neither are business conferences and other in-person events. Interacting face to face, networking, and building relationships with prospects, customers, and partners will continue to be important — especially for companies operating in the financial services sector.
These organizations should still consider conferences as viable marketing and sales channels, and they should also consider using account-based approaches — and platforms — to increase the business impact of their event appearances..
Strategy in action: Hear Bryce Nobles, growth leader for financial services company MX, describe how his company used these techniques to connect with key buyers at a regional event.