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5 Inspiring Ideas To Fire Up Your Fall Events

Face-to-face events are the most effective lead-generation tactic for business-to-business marketers. That's a bold declaration, but is backed by study after study of B2B marketers. Anecdotally, Microsoft partners who are holding events report good response rates and respectable attendance numbers.

Yes, events take time to organize, but no matter what size your business, you can put together a meaningful event that will attract potential customers. There is no better time to hold events than in the fall, after school starts and before the holidays. 

1. Choose Topics that Solve Customer Challenges
When you pick your topic, remember that the event is not about products -- it should be about solving the challenges your customers face. If you are using Ready-to-Go campaign materials -- which make a great foundation -- just dial back the product pitch a bit. Don't be afraid to make it your own and let your company's personality shine through.

Just to get you thinking, here are a few ideas for event topics:

  • Connect your workers in the field and home office.
  • The IT support challenge: cloud computing changes the game.
  • Grow your business, not your payroll.

2. Co-Sponsor To Extend Your Reach and Share the Burden
Partner with regional organizations that serve your same target audience but provide a complementary product or service. They will have contacts that you don't, and vice versa, to help you both reach a broader audience. Think outside the box to find your partners. Some examples include:

  • Web design or software development company.
  • Car dealer providing fleet sales to home service companies.
  • Print shop.
  • Non-competing technology service firms.

3. Find a Great Location
A different venue can be the tipping point to make a "can't miss" event for business leaders. Some ideas for locations include:

  • Museums, art galleries and ball parks are often looking for opportunities to partner with local businesses. As you negotiate, ask the facility to help you publicize the event.
  • Microsoft Stores are proving to be a great asset to those partners who are lucky enough to have one in their city.
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of a local business. Enlist a customer to show off their facility (and your IT support) to local business leaders.   

4. Get an Outside Speaker
Take your topic to a higher level by inviting thought leaders to speak at the event. With a little research, you may be surprised to find well-known teachers and writers right in your backyard. While some will want to be paid, others may jump at the opportunity for some publicity. A few ideas to consider:

  • University or adjunct professors to address the future of technology.
  • Business writers who can address a topic that links into technology.
  • Organize a panel of local business leaders to discuss how they are handling a common challenge.

5. Use Community Connections
A part of Ready-to-Go, Microsoft's Community Connections is a great program that's been featured in this column before. Microsoft will help you connect with professional organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, in your region. Through the program you are immediately positioned as an expert and an extension of the Microsoft team. If that isn't enough, you get free stuff to give out at the event. 

Bonus Idea: After the Event, Reuse the Content that You Create
You've spent the time and energy to put an event together -- now, squeeze out every drop of value. Create content from the event that you can post on your Web site, like:

  • Record video during the event and edit it down to a short recap.
  • Turn PowerPoint presentation decks into e-books.
  • Record video of attendees' comments between sessions.

While content and inbound marketing get all the focus these days, B2B marketers still find that face-to-face events deliver the most valuable leads. This fall, hold an event to educate local business leaders and find your next best customers.

How are you making events more valuable for your prospects? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on August 22, 2013