We had a call recently with a prospect that whole demand generation process was about events. I asked how it was going and the prospect said they had seen the results from events drop by 60%. They also admitted from further probing that in fact they had dropped a number of events as the ROI was zero, in fact negative once you had paid the expenses of the sales people.
It was Explained to us that B2B (Business to Business) sales was about relationships, regardless if they are top of the funnel (ToFu) or long term customer relationships. Events seemed the ideal place to get this new business, meeting customers new and old.
So What About Events?
The problem with events is that they were designed in a time that land forgot. In a recent one I attended in London there was a sign up in the toilets / washroom that asked people not to put brochures down the toilet. Surely it doesn’t amaze companies that all people want to do is put their brochures down the toilet. Most corporate content nowadays is just noise, it all is the same. “We are number one”, “we are the market leader”, nobody cares.
At this event, there were salespeople standing on the stands handing out brochures. If you had told me in the 1980s that towards the end of the second decade of the 21st century people would have still been doing that I would have laughed. Surely there is a better, faster, cheaper and quicker way to find people, qualify them and maybe close them about your product and service? Social Media maybe?
The Restriction of Events
I was cold called about this event and salesperson said “there will be 2,000 people walking past your stand” and I pointed out that there was 590 Million people walking past my stand on Linkedin each day. We didn’t exhibit, I couldn’t justify the spend for 2,000 people, when I can reach 590 million people for free. Well for the price of a LinkedIn professional edition subscription.
Which is where you have a problem with events, you are restricted to the number of people who attend. None of them want to be sold too. I’ve seen people run through the exhibitors all with their eyes down, so they don’t make contact with some silver suited salesperson.
Events are also only there for the duration of then event. The salespeople we mentor to write content, its there forever. I have people that come to me from an article that I wrote 3 years ago, on a blog I never promote. How they find it I don’t know, but they do. The time I spent writing that content is the gift that keeps giving, an event is a moment in time.
B2B (Business to Business) sales is about relationships, regardless if they are top of the funnel (ToFu) or long term customer relationships. While events may have seemed the ideal place to get this new business, it is faster and more efficient to do this on social. Maybe it’s time to switch all or some of your events budget into social and try for yourself?
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