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Whether you’re looking to connect with customers, potential partners, or like minded thought leaders, B2B marketing conferences can be filled with gold mines of value – if you know how to make the most of your time there.
B2B marketing conferences provide the perfect intersection point for brands and customers. If you know how to work them, you can leverage your time at these events to build your brand, generate leads, and learn quite a bit yourself.
Especially in a field as competitive as B2B search marketing, we need to efficiently segment our time between:
- Interacting with any potential customers/leads
- Connecting with any potential partners/affiliates
- Speaking at and/or Attending the actual presentations
- Crushing Drake’s “Hotline Bling” at Karaoke
Now there are dozens of time management guidelines out there to help you manage your priorities. We don’t need to help you make a schedule for yourself. Instead, what we can offer is some innovative tactics we’ve employed to make better use of B2B marketing conferences.
Some of these tactics will be things you can do yourself at the actual conference. Others will be how to better advertise your brand leading up to and during the conference itself.
With a literal herd of qualified and interested leads at your disposal, you need to know how to capitalize on that demand.
8 B2B Marketing Conferences to Remember in 2017
Before we dive into the tactics, let’s make sure you know which dates to save on your calendar. There are hundreds of conferences and events each year. Especially if you’re new to the B2B space, the options can make your head spin. So we decided to make things easier for you.
B2B Conference #1: Ignite 2017 (B2B Market Summit)
Start Date: June 22, 2017
Location: London, England
“I had the opportunity to provide the closing keynote this past year. The content throughout the day was thought provoking and practical. A jam packed one day event with energy, close to 1,000 B2B marketers and great take-aways from all of the speakers.” – Carlos Hidalgo
B2B Conference #2: Mozcon
Start Date: July 17, 2017
Location: Seattle, Washington
“We forget that traffic is people. Clicks are people. We can’t forget that… Understanding people is more difficult than understanding Google.”- Will Reynolds
B2B Conference #3: Uberflip Experience
Start Date: August 22, 2017
Location: Toronto, Canada
“Excellent conference – tilts towards content with a side order of social and email…very well run, affordable, and fun.” – Jay Baer
B2B Conference #4: Content Marketing World
Start Date: September 5, 2017
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
“When people ask me what are the top events of the year, Content Marketing World is always at the top of the list.” – Michael Brenner
B2B Conference #5: Inbound
Start Date: September 25, 2017
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
“I’ll echo what others have said about hustling to get in line for the next session, but don’t sweat not getting into one – the most popular ones have encores, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a summary.” – Brandon Carter
B2B Conference #6: Niche Digital Summit
Start Date: September 25, 2017
Location: Chicago, Illinois
“I’d bet I’m not alone in saying this, but Niche Digital is so much fun…[they] do a great job with programming, and the vibe is incredibly informal and fun, which makes the discussions frank and incredibly useful. As a marketer, why are you learning publishing behavior from only other marketers? shouldn’t you try to learn from, oh I dunno, publishers? This is a great event to join.” – Jay Acunzo
B2B Conference #7: MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2017
Start Date: October 3, 2017
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
“Give me only 2 marketing events to attend in a year and this one is on the list!” – Michael Brenner
B2B Conference #8: Smart Social Summit by Spredfast
Start Date: October 16, 2017
Location: Austin, Texas
“Considered one of the must-attend events of 2017 by Entrepreneur Magazine. An opportunity for all social marketers to meet, discuss their challenges, and share their success.” – Rod Favaron
7 Tactics to Make the Most Out of Every B2B Marketing Conference
Now that you know where you’re going, let’s look at how you can make the most of each trip. Below are 7 clever ways to grow your brand visibility around a B2B marketing conference and how to gather valuable data and leads from your time there.
Learn, Engage, Create
Now the primary reason anyone goes to a B2B marketing conference is to get the latest scoop on any new tactics. These events are great resources for staying up-to-date on Google’s newest updates or the most innovative new strategies.
At Directive Consulting – we embrace a very active philosophy in our learning. The “Learn, Engage, Create” model was built on the foundations that knowledge, data, and tactics are only valuable when put into practical application. We take this mentality to every events any of our employees attend – entry or executive level.
- Learn – always be looking for the newest and most innovative tactics. Remember that what worked yesterday won’t work today, and what worked today will not work tomorrow.
- Engage – don’t just passively consume information. Dive deep into the analysis, check every source, and test every theory. This is not only how you separate the real tactics from the fake – but it’s also how you truly learn the “how-to” as well.
- Create – you’d be sadly surprised to know how fast a good idea can slip out of your memory. Don’t let time get the best of you – get to testing and building right away – the deeper you engage with the material and question and test it – the better you’ll understand it.
For example, we sent most of our PPC experts to the PPCHero conference not to long ago. So you’d be surprised when I saw our VP of Strategy (and in-house PPC guru) message me this in our Slack channel:
Instilling a community and a sense of real-time learning will show in the quality of your work. And making sure that everyone in your company benefits from the tactics that one employee heard is just one way to make the most of a B2B marketing conference.
A/B Test New Branding Options with Business Cards
If you’ve ever dealt with rebranding, than you’ve dealt with the frustrating decision of finalizing your new brand. Our designer must have gone through at least twenty different iterations of our logo and brand rules before we decided on our new site design.
But just because you are in the middle of a rebrand doesn’t mean your business gets to take a vacation. And it certainly doesn’t mean that your tickets to that conference in Boston are going to be refunded.
If you are testing new design templates or some new branding, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of useful data you can collect at any conference with some real-life A/B testing. With what? Well – with business cards of course.
That’s right – business cards. While they are usually on the back end of most marketer’s to-do list, these can be considered real-life mini landing pages for you to test on potential leads. Depending on who you’re networking with, you can go about this one of two ways:
- Transparent A/B Testing – essentially you ask the attendees what they think of the two brand designs and get some real granular data about what changes to make.
- The Blind Test – if you want a truly rigid A/B test, you can give out these cards at a 50-50 pace and wait to see who calls. Then just filter out who received which card to see which design to go with.
Print Your eBook/Case Study Assets
Business cards aren’t the only real-life asset you should be bringing to the conference. Digital marketers are constantly pushing their different eBooks and case studies to convert online leads. Why wouldn’t you take the same approach to a marketing conference?
It’s far easier to get the contact information of a potential lead in person. Make sure that any attendees of the conference have the right assets to show potential leads at the conference. This way they can serve as a living, breathing, form submission field for your real-life gated content.
These printed eBook and case-study pamphlets can also be leveraged as powerful sales assets. B2B marketing is all about building relationships over long sales cycles.
This means that you’ll most-likely be meeting in person at-least once before you close a lead. Make sure you always have a valuable asset to offer in every market interaction – digital or in real life.
Target The Conference Location With a Geofilter
A lot of marketing agencies clamor to get their brand name and logo on the sponsors page for these events. This makes sense – as these is a serious way to market yourself as an industry leader and authoritative brand – but it can be expensive.
If you can’t afford to sponsor the conference, creating a Snapchat geofilter to advertise your brand toward the event’s location is another great option. You can set the radius for your geo filter to surround the a block or two around the event location. This way attendees either arriving or leaving the event can also use the geo filter.
Now, there are some best practices and rules for Snapchat geofilters, which you can check out on this guidelines page. For the most part the branding rules are fairly simple. Just make sure that the snapchat is easily useable and fun without interfering with the actual shot.
For more tips on how to build a geofilter campaign and how to track its success or failure, you can read this helpful post from Wordstream.
Target Conference-Goers with the Event Name #Hasthtag
The Snapchat geofilter tactic is a great way to target the location around the conference in question. It’s a great way to get potential leads associating your brand name with their actual memories of the conference instead of just it’s name.
But, there isn’t much qualification as far as Snapchat engagements go. You’re likely to end up with plenty of data on who used your geo filter, which is great for brand awareness. But you probably won’t have any useful data to retarget these users.
That’s where Twitter comes in to save the day with it’s #hashtag targeting.
You can use Twitter to build ad campaigns around the custom #hashtag the conference is using. This way, if people are gearing up to attend or are tweeting about it during – or even if they are discussing the conference later – you can have ads running to target these users.
If you really want to take it one step further, you can target your ad copy itself to these conference-attendees. Instead of just running a generic branded ad campaign, change the copy to discuss the actual conference.
- Ad headline: How’d You Like [Conference Name]?
- Ad copy: “We just presented at [Conference Name] for the second year in a row – did you get a chance to see it?”
- Ad creative: reference the conference logo alongside your brand
This way, with Twitter ads, you can continue the conversation after the conference is over to really generate demand for your brand.
Target Conference Attendees with Search Ads on Event Name Keyword
Social media isn’t the only channel through which users are researching these different conferences. You can take the same methodology from the above tactic and apply it to the search engines as well.
For example, currently there is only one paid ad running for the keyword “MozCon 2017.” Naturally, it’s an ad to register for MozCon from the domain itself.
But Moz isn’t the only digital marketing company that’s going to be in attendance. In fact, they are the only company that doesn’t need to be advertising that they’ll be at the conference.
This search engine results page (SERP) is a goldmine of qualified users looking for more information on MozCon. Just imagine the click through rate if you were to target an ad to this specific keyword with the exact search intent behind it.
Placing an ad above-the-fold with the headline “We’ll be at MozCon – Will You?” is bound to generate some traffic to your page.
Take Your Work Home With You
The last tactic is a gimme – but is an important one nonetheless. It’s vital to remember that the work doesn’t end when the conference draws to a close. The real work from a B2B marketing conference comes after you get home from your trip.
You should have a list of leads to follow up with, fellow marketers to connect with on social and email, as well as a few new tactics to test out on your own site.
To make the most out of every B2B marketing conference you need to stay fresh in the mind of any lead you met with. You also need to capitalize on the conference trend and conversations in the days after the event. This is where the actual clicks and conversions will be occurring – so this is where your campaigns need to be active.
Lastly, keep in mind that these tactics go for the speakers at these events as well as the audience.
You may think that if you’re the keynote you’ve done enough. Well – let’s just say that if you’re thinking that way you probably weren’t the keynote anyways.
Make sure you are getting as much engagement and brand awareness as you can out of such an authority-builder as speaking at a conference. Turn every presentation into a useful slideshare and promote it to the right attendees and social channels to maximize your visibility.
Making the most of your time doesn’t mean becoming a dungeon troll SEO specialist. It turns out that face-to-face networking and breathing fresh air are equally important skills to a digital marketer. Make sure you are making the most of every B2B marketing conference.
The better you can use your time at the different panels and roundups – the more you’ll be able to enjoy that Karaoke session at the bars afterwards.