How to Create a Revenue-Generating Community from B2B Clients with Customer Events
How to Create a Revenue-Generating Community from B2B Clients with Customer Events
When B2B marketers think about events, they often think about trade shows and conferences where they have a booth, give demonstrations, collect business cards, and maybe have a chance to be on stage and speak to the audience. External events, especially in relationship-important B2B industries, are still a fundamental part of the B2B marketing mix.
There is another type of event, however, that is often overlooked by B2B marketers but equally if not even more powerful: The customer event.
Customer events are internal events that can be made open to the public which celebrate the customer but also offer value to all attendees. This is exactly why Bigbeat, a leading Japanese B2B event management, branding, and marketing agency, decided to invest its own marketing budget into creating its own customer event: Bigbeat LIVE.
Bigbeat has been around for decades and has helped hundreds of companies with their events and marketing through the times. As a leader in the industry, it made sense for them to invest in a marketing vehicle for which they had always aided in helping their own customers implement customer events.
The case study of Bigbeat LIVE illustrates the many advantages for B2B companies to hold customer events.
SHOW THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
Customer events give you the potential to yield thought leadership because you are bringing the community together under one roof. What is important here is to have an agenda that will bring your community together. Just announcing new products will not incentivize customers to attend. Just like you need to add value in providing resourceful content – and not mere promotions – as part of your customer marketing, you need to take the same approach with your event agenda. Similar to how content curation helps you establish thought leadership, the same applies when you curate the right presenters that your customers would be interested in listening to.
In Bigbeat’s case, they know that their customers are B2B marketers who are interested in the market trends that they need to understand in order to better do their job. At the first Bigbeat LIVE, Bigbeat sourced speakers from the B2B marketing community, primarily authors as well as prominent speakers in the industry, who would attract customers into wanting to see all of these speakers in a single day. The second Bigbeat LIVE was centered around actual case studies from businesses, whether they were customers or not.
The important takeaway is this: Customer events give you the ability to yield thought leadership in your industry if you approach the agenda from a customer-centric, non-branded approach as Bigbeat has.
UNDERSTAND THE MARKET TRENDS
When you invite cutting-edge speakers, whether they are author/speakers or those presenting case studies on behalf of their employers, you are also getting the opportunity to understand the market trends from those deep in the trenches. You don’t even need to wait for the event to happen to have meetings before the event to get to know the speakers better and tap into market trends.
Of course, there is even more power in understanding what is on the minds of your customers because an event gives you the ability to survey them in order to create an agenda that helps them. While customers may not fill out your ordinary survey, when they know it will help them experience a better event, we have found that they will give you their opinions.
We talk about a community later on in this blog post, but Bigbeat LIVE used a community group in Facebook to have conversations with attendees long before the event to understand their needs and help shape the agenda. The below comments were some of the issues the customers were currently facing and had brought up in the community prior to attending the event that they wanted to address:
• Feeling of being torn between conflicting dilemmas internally
• Feeling like they did not have any “weapons” to fight internal “wars”
• Their company’s internal understanding of marketing’s role was low
• They had no role in the internal decision-making processes
• Their organization was only partially optimal with lots of room for improvement
• The wall that stood between marketing and sales
This put Bigbeat, the speakers, and the attendees all on the same page to build an optimal community that would support them.
FORGE NEW COLLABORATIONS
If you approach both speakers and attendees strategically, you can imagine how customer events give you the ability to forge new collaborations. Every new speaker gives you a chance to influence an influencer, while opening up your customer event to new potential customers gives you the opportunity to generate new leads with each new attendee.
DISPLAY YOUR CUSTOMER POWER
Bigbeat LIVE doubled in registrant numbers from 300 in 2017 to 600 in 2018. As more of the 2017 attendees shared their experiences with their networks and word of mouth helped to promote the Bigbeat LIVE brand, attendance in hand grew. With growing attendance comes social proof that your company is a big entity. It is a type of customer power, for any new company that has yet to do business with you attending will be impressed with the sheer number of people in attendance that have an affiliation with your company. Every respected speaker that has agreed to be on stage on behalf of your company further drives home this social proof, that your company has customer power and is a safe and proven entity to do business with.
CREATE COMMUNITY THAT WILL TALK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOU AND KEEP YOU TOP OF MIND
We know that much B2B business is generated from word-of-mouth recommendations just like it is in the consumer marketing world. That is why B2B brands also need to create a revenue-generating community. No matter what type of B2B marketing you decide to focus on (Account-Based Marketing, Employee Advocacy, B2B Influencer Marketing, et. al.), nothing is quite as scalable as the word-of-mouth marketing that stems from your own customers in your own community.
But how can B2B brands go about creating a community in niche markets where your customers might not always be willing to participate in a community?
This is where events come in. No matter how many online communities you try to create, nothing compares with the deep relationships you can build in-person, and events give you the opportunity to do just that. When you do everything we discussed above, you are on your way to building a community that truly cares about the thoughts of each attendee and wants to create an event solely for them, not for Bigbeat. In doing so you create true community as all of the attendees have had a say in the event beforehand and therefore it becomes their event, not yours.
If you are able to create the event and do the right encouraging and provide enough value, you can carry that over to an online community after the event. This is what Bigbeat LIVE did with the aforementioned Facebook Group. This allows Bigbeat to keep mindshare on a daily basis through encouraging the community to engage in this group, and in doing so, creates a revenue-generating community as these customers tell others at their company and networks about the event and community. This positive word-of-mouth marketing stems from building a community-developing event as we have described above and then creating the group beforehand as a way to gather feedback for the event. Of the 600+ who registered for the event, 456 have already joined this community, and you can see a sample post in the community below where more than 20% of the community engaged in. With declining reach in social media and difficulty in breaking through the noise that surrounds us every day, being able to build such a community might be the best marketing your company can do. That was the topic of one of the presentations at Bigbeat LIVE, the concept of “community marketing,” that we will discuss in our next blog post!
If you’re looking to create your first customer event or generate higher ROI from your current ones, we can help! Please feel to reach out to us here.
Is your company already doing customer events? Have you reaped the benefits that we discuss above? Any other benefits that you see? Please feel free to chime in the comments below. Thanks!