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Five Principles of B-to-B Event Marketing Success

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Tanner Harp
Tanner Harp

Director, Marketing


Key takeaways from the 2018 B-to-B Dream Team panel at Experiential Marketing Summit

The Event Marketer B-to-B Dream panel welcomed marketers into the inner circle of the award-winning panelists.

The session consisted of 90 minutes of Q&A in a packed room where attendees and panelists talked about burning issues of the brand experience industry.

To understand how these B-to-B Dream Team members approach new challenges and climbed to the top of the peer-nominated honor, check out these key themes that emerged from their responses.

Take risks. Embrace your failures.

With a panel like this, it’s easy to think everything is roses and unicorns. To turn that perception around, they kicked off the panel talking about a failure.

And guess what? Even rock stars make mistakes.

The vulnerability establishes a connection. Like the time when Annie Yuzzi from Sumo Logic put on a show without knowing to order electricity. Or when Julie Hogan from Facebook brought a glacier to Cannes for an activation only for it to melt.

But they didn’t regret it.

Risk taking is part of the adventure. As Erin McElroy from IBM said, “Be a risk taker. We owe it to the industry to innovate and make events exciting. It might be uncomfortable. You might fail. But when you get it right, it’s worth it.”

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Engage others and find your friendlies

How do you get buy-in for risky ideas? Make others part of the process.

Allow others to shape the outcome, Erin advised. They’ll be more invested, and the idea is more likely to take off — even if the final outcome looks different than you’d originally imagined.

Echoing the same sentiment, Laine Mann from Pfizer said, “Find your friendlies.”

It’s good to know who believes in you. Remember who can help you move an idea to execution. Each success will gain you more friendlies, creating a virtuous cycle.

Lean into help

How can you get everything done, and done well?

Let your partners help you.

Maybe you have a large team you can empower. But what’s much more common is having an agency you can trust. Allow others to ideate, advise, and execute.

“We love working together. It really feels like we’re the same team,” Natalie Knopp of Kashi said of her agency partner. And the following day, she co-presented a session with that partner. Teamwork.

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Empathy, empathy, empathy

What is your audience feeling? How can you improve that?

This was common among Dream Teamers — thinking first and foremost of those attending the brand experience.

As an example, just before the panel started, the Dream Team decided that this far into the three-day event, participants would prefer something more casual and relaxed. So they gave the audience the chance to set the tone of the panel, ask questions they wanted to hear about, and walk into the session with the panelists greeting everyone.

Connection is the future

No surprise here: the future of brand experience is about providing more opportunity to connect people.

Expect technology to increase, of course. The technology advancements will allow people to connect and bond more powerfully, rather than separate them or detract from the live medium.

Content will be more participatory. Less broadcast. Networking as a goal will become more dominant.

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Everything works together

As the audience asked questions to these marketing masterminds, it was impressive to hear how well-aligned the Dream Team members were about the principles behind what they do.

It’s interesting to note that the themes that arose in their answers all work together for the greater good:

  • Make sure that you’re focused on your audience.

  • Think about how to help people connect.

  • Rely on others to help you instead of being a lone wolf.

  • Gain enrollment and work together.

  • Take risks for big rewards, and learn from what doesn’t work.

Now it’s your turn. How can you start putting this advice to work today?

Get started planning your next event with our strategic planning guide.

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