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B2B event

10 Things Event Managers Should Do During A B2B Event

They say that event planning is one of the most stressful jobs. B2B event planners, do you want to know a secret that might make your job slightly less stressful? Repeatable processes! 

We’re all about processes here. If you can outline the process for your various tasks, then you’ll greatly reduce the time and energy that you’ll have to put into those tasks because you won’t have to reorient yourself with the operation each time you start. 

We’ve created several process resources to help B2B event planners, like our Trade Show Preparation Checklist, Questions to Ask When Integrating Independent Lead Capture, or our Post-Show Questionnaire. Today, we will focus on the tasks that you might want to consider during your B2B event. Download the infographic here, or read below for more details about each item. 

10 Things Event Managers Should Do During A B2B Event

B2B At-Event Checklist

B2B events are fast-paced, but there is a lot of value that your company is going to want to squeeze out of it. Every item in the checklist below may not apply to your company, but we recommend that you take this list and modify it as needed. Then, use this as a part of your “trade show kit” going forward. Your team will be impressed with how well you manage the event, from start to finish.

  • Test your lead retrieval on each other. Scan each other’s badge and make sure the information is collected correctly, and that it feeds into your existing backend systems (CRM, marketing automation, etc.) in a timely manner. If you’ve set up a post-event workflow, this would be the final time to test and make sure all applicable actions are triggered upon form submission. While you should have tested this already, make sure nothing has changed by testing at the event. 
  • Set goals for your booth staff. In our experience, salespeople are born competitors. Surprise your booth staff with a special prize for the one that captures the most quality leads, and let them know in your morning get-together on day one. If they haven’t had their coffee yet, this will grab their attention and kick their competitiveness into high gear. 
  • Establish a central point of contact for any unexpected circumstances. This person might be yourself, but make sure to communicate this to your team. This will simplify your event more than you realize. Many times people like to “be the hero” but end up just muddying the waters. You planned the event. You have all the order forms. You know the process. You should manage the unexpected. 
  • Take a photo of your team in front of your booth. Use this photo in your event follow-up to remind prospects of who you are, and why they are getting the email. Most people need the visual reminder, so this will assist your company in standing out from competitors. 
  • Schedule a post-event meeting with your team. Go ahead and give everyone a heads up that you’ll want to have a quick recap meeting after the event closes for the day. Don’t surprise them towards the end of the day – set expectations early. This meeting will give you a chance to take your team’s temperature. How is the event going? Is there anything they needed today that you can prepare for tomorrow? Bonus points for scheduling this at a nearby watering hole. 
  • Ensure that any pre-purchased elements are in working order prior to the event start (ex: power, wifi). The ideal time to do this is during setup. You’ll likely know if a power source isn’t working right off the bat. But, don’t assume the wifi will work once the event starts. Test it during setup. 
  • Walk the floor. Take at least a half-hour to walk the trade show floor. Bring your cell phone and take pictures of booths that inspire you, and of your competition. You’ll come back to these photos later – I promise. Take the time to orient yourself and note where might be a better booth location next show.
  • Find your show organizer contact and ask for their input on your booth. This person could provide an unbiased opinion of what’s working and what’s not, especially in direct comparison to the other booths. You can take that information and build on it for the next show. 
  • Invite customers in attendance to your booth. Lure them with a special treat, like donuts or a snack basket. The goal is to keep them in your booth long enough to possibly provide testimonials to new potential clients. There’s nothing more convincing than a living, breathing advocate for your product or solution. 
  • Make notes on how to tweak your lead capture process. If you are using a mobile lead capture app over the antiquated badge scanners, you likely built your own lead capture form. What questions are your team skipping? Are there any parts of your lead capture form that could use fine-tuning for next time? We recommend using an independent lead capture solution across all of your events, so you can more easily clone your process from event to event. This also makes it infinitely easier to make minor tweaks to the lead capture and post-show workflow, based on experience. 

With each event that you manage, you’ll find more items to add to this list and discover which ones don’t really apply to your company. The key is to let your trade show experiences build off of one another. They should not be compartmentalized, but rather a cumulative effort to overall B2B event success. 

To learn more about Lead Liaison’s B2B event lead capture solution, request a personalized demo here.

company shirts

Company Shirts: Pros, Cons, & Tips

My office just received an order of company t-shirts that we intend on giving away to current and prospective clients, as well as wearing ourselves. It’s not the first order, and it won’t be the last. But, it got me thinking. Company shirts are a pretty standard category of “swag.” And, rightfully so. They can be used for employees (in both B2B and B2C businesses), current clients, and even prospective clients. But really, are company shirts worth the investment?

The “Pros” of Investing in Company Shirts

A well-designed company shirt can be extremely versatile, but the end goal is to create brand awareness. There are several avenues of creating brand awareness. While much of marketing’s focus is on your prospective clients, brand awareness is also important for your current base of clients and even your employees. Everyone wants to be a part of something great. And a t-shirt is an easy way to make a statement – heck, it’s a walking billboard! Company shirts can create a sense of unity amongst your employees, make new clients feel like a part of a really cool family, and spark interest with your prospective client. The more your prospects see your brand in day-to-day life, the more they will trust your business.

Local screen printers are easy to find, and your choices for a designer is not limited to your area. Our designer lives more than 800 miles away from our screenprinter. We live in a modern world; we are not limited by the location of our partners and vendors. Find a designer that fits your company culture (if you don’t already have one on staff), then choose your screen printer based on the quality of shirts they have available in addition to their reputation. And if you prefer to do everything online, companies like UberPrints.com allow you to design your own t-shirts in their online studio. They also offer free shipping (bonus!). We have lots of experience with thier work, and it’s great quality.

Company shirts, or marketing shirts specifically, can make you moneyI love this article by Sujan Patel, in which he explains how giving away t-shirts made him over $500k in revenue. Patel says, “I posted to Facebook to see who wanted a few shirts and was surprised when I ran out just a few hours after I put up the message. Clearly, there was a demand for my shirts! Since my supply was short, I put together an email list of people who were interested and started sending out the shirts with personalized notes. Not only did this allow me to help capture people’s physical addresses for use in future t-shirt giveaways, my friends were so excited that they personally thanked me on Facebook and started wearing the shirts around town.” He goes on to explain how giving away all of those shirts made him money. The project helped him strike up business conversations, it helped him get into larger companies, and it helped him grow his brand recognition.

The “Cons” of Investing in Company Shirts

“Logo shirts” are typically the first to go in a closet purge (unless the quality of the shirt warrants keeping). If you’re going to do this project, you need to make sure you do it right. A high quality t-shirt and a modern, simple design will be the keys to keeping your shirts in rotation.

Predicting the future is hard. How do you determine how many of each size you’ll need? I’ll tell ya – this is probably one of the hardest parts of the t-shirt buying process. It’s hard to straddle the line between staying within budget, but also having enough shirts to cover your potential need. And, if you are buying t-shirts without the wearers in mind (like your employees), it’s impossible to know what size you need. My best advice is to hop on a LinkedIn group in your industry and ask. Also, go ahead and mentally prepare for the fact that your numbers will be slightly off. That’s okay! You can always order more.

Tracking ROI is hard. It’s difficult to quantify the return on investment to expect for each shirt you give away. RealThread.com helps quantify that. “According to the Ad Speciality Institute, the average giveaway t-shirt gets worn 4.32 times per month and earns 365 impressions per month, with an impression being any time the shirt is viewed or seen. Assuming that your t-shirt is kept for even just one year, that’s 4,380 impressions per t-shirt.” So, if your t-shirt cost is $9.00/shirt, your cost per impression would be $.002/impression. Not bad.

Tips

Sizing

Sizing will always be an issue, as I stated before. But it’s important to make an educated guess. The most common t-shirt size for adults is a Large. But this will vary based on your percentage of men vs women. It’s also a good idea to skew the sizes slightly to the bigger size, since it’s easier to fit someone in a larger shirt than it is to fit in a shirt that’s too small. This Quora article provides this simple ratio:

  • Small: 1
  • Medium: 2
  • Large: 2
  • XL: 1
  • 2XL: .5

Design

Keep your design simple and do NOT skimp on quality. You want to appeal to a wide audience with your design, so the more simple the better. This guide from Bonfire gives even more tips and tricks to designing the perfect shirt. Try to keep the sales-y stuff out of your design. It’s 2018 – people know how to search for your business online. They don’t need your logo and your URL and your phone number on their clothing. That’s all too distracting. Remember, your main goal is to create unity and brand awareness. The rest will come.

You want people to be more inclined to actually wear your shirt, rather than wash their car with it. A cotton-polyester blend is pretty common and probably most suitable for everyday use. The cotton fiber makes it easy to care for and clean, while the polyester increases wrinkle resistance. And don’t forget to ask your t-shirt vendor for a sample. Most will decline, but if you call and ask, you might get special treatment. Remind them that it’s better to send a sample, than re-print an entire order because the t-shirt is unsatisfactory. Once you have the sample, wear, wash, and re-wear the shirt. Keep an eye on how much/if it shrinks

Ideas for how to use your company shirts:

  • Lead Generation
    • Offer a free shirt online, in exchange for contact information.
    • Give away a t-shirt as a reward for signing up for a webinar.
    • Use t-shirts to incentivize prospects to fill out a survey or quiz.
  • For Current Clients
    • Use company shirts to keep your brand in the mind of your best customers at all times (they are your biggest advocates, after all!).
    • Make a limited run of shirts that are only given to VICs (Very Important Clients).
    • Give away a t-shirt as a reward for a client completing an educational course on a subject in your industry. For example, we offer free educational courses on our software. We could give a t-shirt as a reward for completing a set of software training courses.
  • For Employees
    • Use company shirts to unite a team in vision.
    • Use company shirts to celebrate an important anniversary or other company milestone.
    • Give your employees a company shirt so that they can rep your brand outside of work.
    • [B2B] Use different color t-shirts to help employees easily recognize team members (the technology department wears blue, the finance department wears green, interns wear orange, etc.).
    • [B2C] Improve customer satisfaction by making it easy for customers to spot the nearest employee to assist them, thus improving their overall experience.
    • Take a group photo of all of your employees wearing the same shirt. This image can be used on your “Meet the Team” webpage, and will help prospective clients feel comfortable knowing that your company is truly a “team.”

An Extra Tip (…and Shameless Plug)

Marketing t-shirts can also be incorporated in your lead nurturing if your company uses marketing automation. Lead Liaison’s Lead Management Automation (LMA)™ solution allows for direct mail actions to be included in any drip campaign (aka: an automation). This includes the functionality to send marketing material (like t-shirts, company pens, etc.) automatically to key Prospects (let’s say, with a lead score above 900). To learn more about this and any of the other amazing capabilities of Lead Liaison, request a demo here.

The Importance of Event Follow-Up: Part 1

Your organization just attended a big marketing event. There was a lot of planning that went into your organzation’s participation at this event. You spent lots of marketing dollars trying to make an impact, and hopefully creating a lot of leads. And it worked! Your onsite representatives collected tons of leads! You probably already know that your event follow-up is important, but did you know just how important it really is? And, how rare it is?!

Why is the timing of your event follow-up important?

According to recent research from Certain published on MarketingProfs, “some 73.5% of respondents say their firm takes four days or longer to follow up with event leads. Just 2% of respondents say their firm follows up with event leads on the same day.” Most respondants to this research said that the reason they do not follow up quickly is because of how long it takes to prepare the outreach and that they do not have the tools to speed up the process.

Prompt event follow-up is critical. It allows your organization to stand out from the competition because it shows that you care enough to make that follow-up a priority.

Event lead capture methods, like our app GoCapture!™, are an important part of any marketing automation platform. This functionality allows companies to streamline thier event follow-up in a way that is personal, instantaneous, and repeatable. Our app allows onsite representatives to collect lead information quickly (without losing any valuable information), by scanning a badge, a business card, by manual entry, or even syncing with a registration list. Then, once that information is captured, it can be automatically uploaded to our database, segmented, and placed into a nuture campaign.

That nurture campaign can contain releveant event follow-up information in the form of email, text message, postcard, or even a handwritten letter (our personal favorite!). Whatever the method of outreach, the message should be well thought-out.

What kind of message to you send in your event follow-up?

First and foremost, your event follow-up should identify the specific show by name, within the first paragraph or even in the subject line. This immediately validates your outreach, which should encourage recipients to read further. And, don’t forget to include the information from the onsite representative that the prospect came into contact with. That will help create a personal connection with your outreach.

The conversations that onsite representatives have with leads can be breif, or very surface level. Your event follow-up messaging should offer a range of options for further engagement – also known as your call-to-actions (CTAs). You really want to appeal to a range of prospects at various stages of the selling cycle. You could offer a free download of a high-performing white paper, offer a free demonstration, or simply encourage your prospect to sign up for your company newsletter. These clickthrough options will help sales prioritze which leads should be called first and will also allow for further segmentation.

If you are interested in a better way to manage your event lead capture and your event follow-up, let us help you! Check out our event lead capture app, GoCapture!™ and our marketing automation platform, Lead Management Automation (LMA)™. If you like what you see, don’t hesitate to ask for a free, personalized demonstration.

3 Sales Tools I Wish I Had When I Was in B2B Sales

salespersonLadies and gentlemen, account executives, and sales reps everywhere, I salute you. I have tried my hand in business to business sales and could just never get a rhythm down. They warned me going in that it’s hard to get your foot in the door these days – boy were they right!

In a market saturated with other office equipment suppliers, I could never quite read exactly how interested my prospects were. I’d knock on doors, get cards (or speak to someone if God was smiling on me that day), log them in the CRM, and then call or email back every few days. When I was super lucky I’d hit just the right person at the right time. Not so lucky I got their voicemail. Really unlucky and I was promptly informed I was literally worse than a murderer to these people. 

It was a numbers game, management would say. Well, that’s not a game I’m great at. I love interaction and nurture, not chasing unqualified leads for months before they finally let me down. But you know, I’ve learned a few things here at Lead Liaison. Things that might have made my short sales career much longer, and much more profitable.

Here are a few of the sales tools I’ve recently discovered that could have made the difference. 

Send and Track™

I remember sitting in my sales manager’s office trying to figure out how to get a better response. I had a solid cold email template, but I struggled knowing when to make the next touch. I usually didn’t even know if my emails were being read, and I didn’t have any real way of knowing. (Pro tip: don’t use read receipts… well, unless you like getting profanity-laced responses).

“It would be so much easier if I knew when they had at least opened the content I sent them,” I’d say. 

Apparently, I could have known exactly that. Lead Liaison’s Send and Track plugins for Google Mail and Outlook add a tracking code to the links within a tracked email. The first time I tested it, I was pleasantly surprised by a chirping from Chrome and a pop up saying my recipient had opened the email. I logged in to our platform, checked the sales emails report, and saw that they had also clicked one of the links. 

To think, if I could go back in time and use this while I was a sales rep, I could know exactly who to focus on based on interest. I wouldn’t be hounding people just trying to ignore me; I’d be responding to people who actually responded to my communication attempts!

Visitor Tracking

Back then I would have been happy enough knowing which emails were effective, but this would have blown my mind. Imagine knowing the people and companies who are actively checking out your website. For a sales person, this is a huge starting point. What’s that? This person has been to the website 5 times and keeps looking at OCR solutions? Well, time to put on my OCR Expert Hat™ and give them a visit!

But it gets better. Lead Liaison’s ProspectVision™ doesn’t just through a cookie in the user’s browser and tell you what pages they went to. No, we’re able to see what content a visitor downloads, if they watch a video (and how much of that video). With every step, ProspectVision™ builds a more and more detailed profile. It comes down to learning what the prospect wants to know so you can make a real connection with them. You don’t have to spend all month wearing down a gatekeeper to get little bits of info on what this company might want. You get to see it all first hand.

Buying Signals

Now we’re talking leads. And I don’t mean a list of businesses in your area marketing has identified as target clients. I mean honest-to-goodness warm leads. Based on website activity, email response, and interaction with content on your website, we create a score for qualified leads. Once they hit a certain threshold, you get a buying signal.

Think about that for a moment. You’re probably a very busy person with a huge funnel to keep up with. It can be hard to really put together a roadmap of someone’s interest, especially when they prefer to research on their own. But now, without having to breathe down their necks, you know when they’ve exhibited purchasing behavior. That kind of insight would have been life changing for me.

If you’re new to the industry, information is power. If you’re already a sales superstar, you already know that. I won’t say cold calling is dead, but wouldn’t you prefer a warm lead to knocking on a door? I know I would have. And hey, with marketing automation as powerful as it is today, the early adopters are the long-term winners.

 

Forrester Research is Telling B2B to Go Social: We Agree

Forrester Research is Telling B2B to Go Social – We AgreeForrester Research is telling B2B to go social. They released its results of the company’s most recent Technographics® survey, one which polled 382 North American and European decision-makers at companies with 100 or more employees.

Forrester’s report uncovered some incredibly high social media usage statistics. The study revealed that 100% – yes 100% – of respondents use social media in some capacity for work-related purposes.  In addition, 98% of business decision-makers are “spectators”; they read blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts, etc. for work-related purposes.

To a lesser extent, nearly 80% are “joiners” who maintain a profile on networking sites for business purposes. The study also found that 75% of business decision-makers are “critics”. They comment on blogs or post ratings and reviews for products and services.

This confirms what many CMOs and marketing strategists already know:  businesses should be investing in social media. Interestingly, however, the social sites that most may think of may not be the best channels for B2B engagement. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have their advantages, such as huge mature communities. For outreach, those sites are effective at building audiences.

For marketing engagement purposes, the Forrester study suggests that niche communities are more often for specific purposes, such as to solve a technical problem or ask a community for recommendations. Forrester blogger Zachary Reiss-Davis writes, “for example, business technology buyers might visit IT Central Station or Spiceworks to learn more about multiple competing technologies at once; alternatively, they might visit a community managed by a single brand, such as the Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network.”

We have believed what Forrester uncovered. Social engagement is a vital new toolbox in the war for buyers. This belief led to the release of our social posting automation interface. Some may argue that automation takes the sociability out of the equation but we disagree: as Forrester has shown, B2B decision-makers expect SM to be a channel for marketing – and they’re all in communities out there.

Get a 10-minute demo on how social post automation can boost your campaign effectiveness.

Get your demo of our social media automation solution

B2B Demand Generation – How Does it Work?

B2B Demand Generation How Does It WorkB2B demand generation is the process of facilitating the buying process through a combination of marketing and sales assets. The purpose of generating demand is to proactively build awareness about your solution and convert a suspect (unqualified prospect) to a customer.

Effective demand generation aligns your marketing and sales teams through an integrated system, such as the combination of our Lead Management Automation™ platform with the Salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud CRM application. To maximize results, a dem gen strategy involves having the two function areas share information and knowledge.

Data from each silo should be analyzed to determine what has worked within each discipline. The most productive strategies should be combined to fulfill the four primary phases of demand generation:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Preference
  4. Commitment

These four phases in the demand generation funnel move suspects to buyers through distinct approaches and unique objectives.

Awareness

The first objective is to open eyes. Creating awareness can be achieved through inbound and outbound channels and is focused on connecting a potential buyer with a problem to your solution.

Exposure is critical during the awareness phase, so experts suggest deploying as many touch points as possible. Frequency is important as well because it can often take up to seven exposures to register in a suspect’s mind. Remember, before a suspect can show interest he must first be aware that your solution exists.

Interest

The next phase is to stimulate interest in your solution. What makes your solution appealing? What features are commonly in demand? Building interest requires an sharper focus on what your solution can do for your suspects. Once buyers are made aware of your solution, the strategy used during this phase is to target needs and match benefits.

Here is where you strive for TOMA (top-of-mind-awareness) through a series of messages that escalate need/benefit match-up  Buying triggers should be targeted during this phase. Using the data that was analyzed during the development of your demand generation strategy, highlight the most appealing features or benefits to generate interest.

Preference

This phase may be owned by both marketing and sales. Now the objective is to become the preferred solution for your suspects. Prior to buying, most B2B prospects become interested in a few options. This stage moves them to a point where, if a purchase has been approved by management the suspect will be interested in a sales engagement with your company.

To be considered a preferred choice means that most of a buyer’s objections have been overcome. At this point your target is close to making a decision – and your solution has been deemed the best solution for her company.

Preference for your solution can be established through deep marketing engagements such as webinars or white paper downloads. Qualifying sales calls can also develop preference within your leads.

Commitment

Your sales department should have ownership of the commitment phase. Here BANT has been confirmed and final objections are overcome. Commitment is gained through advanced questioning intended to root out hidden objections and preparing your target to buy your solution. Demand has been cultivated, the lead has been nurtured, and your solution has become the clear option for your target.