While it is obvious that B2B marketers must create awareness and demand it is important to realize that in the eyes of your CEO s/he wants this to translate into results. The best result is Revenue Generation. This may be obvious for most of you but the primary way to do this is through campaigns and events.
When planning events of any kind you must deliver meaningful value to your audience. There are two core audiences you need to take into consideration. The first, is your customers and the second is your sales force.
The primary directive for all events is to provide customers with meaningful informational/educational content that will help them in their businesses....period. Adding entertainment of some form will enhance the overall experience for some customers. It can also make the experience more memorable.
The good sales reps will use these events to socialize with their accounts. (Note: sometimes you may choose to exclude sales reps, I disagree with this approach. Good sales reps are valued by the customer not despised).
All events should be overbooked because there will be 10 to 20 percent no shows/cancellations. Take a lesson from the hotel industry.
Here's some additional things to think about:
1) The Presentation - in my years of experience I've learned that the most important part of any presentation is the presenter! Put someone in front of your customers who is an expert in their field and/or on a particular topic. The presentation must be balanced so that it informs/educates and links your offerings in a logical fashion. The customer is expecting a bit of a "pitch" so don't be shy...but don't be pushy!
2) Go over the agenda - tell the audience what you're going to cover and get their feedback. They may have a few things they want to ask and learn about that aren't on the agenda.
3) Make it interactive - encourage audience participation. This is sometimes tough because some folks don't want to ask questions for whatever reason. How many times have you been in a presentation where the speaker asks "does anyone have any questions?" and there is silence? The way to deal with this is to ask the audience a question first or even better have one of your own employees ask a question. This helps break the ice.
4) Measure, measure, measure - get feedback from the attendees. Do it through surveys but also go up and ask them! This is the primary thing you should do during the social event that follows the presentation. Also, good marketers, measure the impact the event has on the sales and the sales process. An event can uncover an opportunity and it can also advance one. You must get your reps to provide you with this information. Sales opporunities need to be tagged to events to help justify the expense and determine the ROI. A minimum ROI target should be 10 to 1
5) Location - make sure that the location is close to your customers, is well known, easy to get to and don't scrimp on quality (food, decor, service etc.). Whether it is an in-person or online event make sure the quality of the delivery is HIGH.