7 ways to strengthen your b2b relationships

In recent years, business to business companies have been putting more emphasis on event marketing as a way to reach new audiences and grow their business. And for good reason — meetings offer a unique opportunity to connect with potential customers and partners in a way that other marketing channels simply can’t match.

I met up with Jessica Borgar of Flokk, a furniture design company, to discuss how they have made event marketing to business clients the cornerstone of their branding strategy. By catering to specific segments of their audience, they’re able to push change within the industry, find new potential customers and network — all at the same time.

I sit them down for an interview and the result is a concrete list of 7 ways to create brand presence through business events.

1. Start with the idea, not with the date

The most important thing when planning a business event is to have a good idea. What makes a good idea? There are no hard cut definitions, but a good pointer is that if the topic makes you feel inspired, it will likely inspire someone else. Whether it’s a want to discuss a trend running through your industry, the need to find a solution for a common problem or sharing your company’s R&D discoveries, good ideas tend to be born out of genuine interest. Start with the idea, not the date.

2. Find your target audience through hard segmentation

Once you have your good idea, it’s time to think about who will be attending. Segmentation is key here — don’t try to appeal to everyone, as that will only result in a diluted message. Instead, make sure the customers you invite will really be hit by what you want to convey. Jessica shares with us how their customer segmentation can get really specific; “we have a chair made only for lab use,” she says, “and when we do marketing representation around that chair, we only invite architects doing lab architecture, partners working with the specific ISO standards of lab equipment, partners involved in our manufacturing process etcetera. We get really nitty gritty with who we invite, so that we know that those who actually get the invite will really care about the message.”

On this note, it’s important to keep your CRM system up to date, so that you can easily search through- and segment your customer base according to set criteria. If you don’t have a CRM system, now is the time to invest in one — it will make your marketing efforts so much easier in the long run!

3. Get on a great event management platform

Well, you're here, so maybe this is self explanatory. Event management platforms such as Invajo allows you to create booking pages, receive payments, send reminders, keep track of your attendance lists and groupings, stream events and much more. They make your life as an event planner so much easier, and they also allow for easy re-use of participant lists and branding templates to quickly get your future events out to the public.

4. Make it personal

When you’ve sent out your invitations and gotten people to sign up, it’s important not to forget about the personal touch. In the weeks leading up to the decided date, make sure to send participants reminders with information on what they can expect. This way, you’re getting them excited for what’s to come while also making sure they block your event in their calendar.

5. Collaborate with partners in your supply chain

Go scavenge hunting in your customer base to see who you can collaborate with. If you find a company that would be a good match, reach out! This way, you can share both the workload, knowledge-base and the audience, which will result in a more successful event for both parties. If you have a partner with in-depth knowledge in a niche area and a specific audience to match, this is also the perfect opportunity to reach out to an audience segment that you might otherwise not have had access to. Other contacts will discover you based on affiliation, which is a great way to build trust.

6. Keep it fresh

It’s important to constantly be on the lookout for new ideas so that you don’t turn to re-runs of discussions that have already been had a billion times before. You can join relevant online communities and subscribe to the e-mail newsletter of blogs and magazines in your field, to make sure you’re always in the loop on the latest trends and developments.

7. Make sure you have a follow-up plan

So now you’ve created and marketed your niche event to your customers, partners and your partners networks. What’s next? It’s important to have a follow-up plan so that you can make the most out of any new contacts you’ve made.

A great way to do this is to create a system where you can quickly and easily add all new contacts into your CRM system, and then segment them according to different criteria such as “interested in event XYZ” or “partner of ABC company”. This way, you can make sure to follow up with the right people with the right information, and you can continue building relationships with the people who are most interested in what you have to say. Also, this is a great way to build lists for future events. If person Y has shown interest in event X, it’s a good idea to send person Y updates on events that are close to the scope of event X in the future.

8. Bonus tip: make sure your guests post about the event

A great way to create some additional buzz through partners and guests is to encourage them to post about their engagement on social media and company websites. This way, you’ll not only get some free marketing, but you can also create a sense of community and belonging among your guests.

If you’re looking for a way to create a strong brand presence and connect with your customer, event marketing is the way to go. It’s the direct root to real relationships, the ones that are not based on a fleeting knowledge of your name but rather an intimate conversation between your company, services and values and that of your customer base. If done well, this can be your most powerful branding strategy yet. So what are you waiting for? Get planning!