Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why Event Organizers May Lose Their Shirts

An old joke goes:

Two partners are arguing over their shirt-retailing business.

"Sol, how can we go on buying shirts for $4 and selling them for $2?" one asks.

"Mort, don't worry!" the other answers. "We make it up in volume."

B2B marketing has long resembled Mort's approach.

But a trendy new form of B2B marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), throws out the "volume-based" approach to lead-gen, concentrating the marketing spend instead on a finite set of prospects.

And—unless they begin to help ABM practitioners—event organizers will soon find themselves losing out to digital channels.

Why so?

Because, for decades, events have always been, more or less, about volume.

Set up an exhibit. Wait for a ton of traffic. Meet and mingle. Rinse and repeat.

But ABM represents different thinking.

ABM means a "shift from volume to engagement," says Cindy Zhou, an analyst with Constellation Research and author of the white paper Why B2B Sales Success Requires a Holistic Account-Based Strategy.

By "engagement," Zhou means targeting "ideal buyers" with "personalized content."

At events, she says, ABM practitioners need to attract specifically targeted accounts to their booths, and present them content designed to convert them—quickly—into customers.

Tirekickers need not apply.

"Organizations adopting an ABM approach see higher conversion rates and deal sizes and an increase in cross-sell and upsell opportunities," Zhou says.

Zhou also say that 9 out of 10 B2B marketers she's in touch with have adopted ABM.

Yet event organizers remain clueless, refusing to provide the data exhibitors need to zero in on ideal buyers.

Case in point.

I recently asked the organizer of a large manufacturing show to allow my client to target accounts on his registration list with pre-show phone calls designed to attract them to the client's booth. Not his whole list (that would have been foolish); merely a select group of attendees.

His answer was a resounding, "No!"

"If I did it for them, I'd have to do it for every exhibitor."

Duh. What's wrong with this picture?

Event organizers are sitting on a mountain of data. Exhibit marketers—9 out of 10, if Zhou's followers are representative—need a bit of it. Why not help them?

If you won't, they may abandon events in favor of digital channels, which provide more data than they need.

What, you expect to make it up in volume?

HAT TIP: Thanks to Cindy Zhou for inspiring this post and providing a free copy of her white paper.
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