It was incredible seeing brands from all industries adapt and evolve in the spring of 2020. While uncertainty and volatility typically lead to inaction, B2B marketing and sales professionals really stepped up their game, focusing first and foremost on connecting with their clients, partners and peers.
Due to the overwhelming number of event cancellations, teams had to fill a hefty hole … and quickly. After all, 53% of B2B marketers say events and trade shows are a great way to drive conversions. And, at the end of the day, goals still need to be met. During an on-demand workshop session, I sit down with Demand Gen Report’s editorial director Andrew Gaffney to talk about field marketing’s quick pivot and some of the new trends and best practices we saw rise to the top.
The overarching trends align with some of the broader shifts we’ve seen in the content marketing space: more interactivity, more on-demand, bingeable experiences and more trusted conversations with industry experts and influencers. But amid new realities, there was a fantastic emphasis on authentically connecting with others. Although I encourage you to sign up for the session to see all the samples we think rise to the top, here are some high-level lessons I think all B2B brands can apply to their field marketing efforts moving forward.
Lesson 1: Always Focus on Your Community First
Your community should guide every decision you make as you map out your digital event plans. Your goals should be a close second. Think through what your audience (buyers and/or clients) wants and needs right now, and what approach is right for empowering and connecting with them. For some, it may be a happy hour chat with an expert, while others may find value in a more formal fireside chat. In many cases, it’s a combination of several tactics. That’s the great thing about digital: You can test, learn and adapt—and there’s always room for growth and improvement.
Lesson 2: It's Okay to Go Off-Script
This may be difficult for some, but I promise it’s worth the risk! Your buyers are overwhelmed by the number of digital events and webinars they’re being served, so you need to stand out wherever and however you can. Once you get people to register, you need to keep their attention. That’s where showing your personality becomes an advantage. If you’re doing a traditional fireside chat, Q&A or webinar, try to prep a few key slides and talking points, but video is encouraged and a more relaxed, conversational and human approach is critical.
Lesson 3: Your Audience Wants You to Take Some Chances
A while back, I wrote about how InVision spiced up their annual company meeting by doing MTV Cribs segments for employees. During our annual meeting, we selected a handful of folks to share fun facts about their hometowns. I recently had a call with a speaker who said he was going to a digital event where everyone was going to be dressed in Ancient Greek garb! “Zoom fatigue” is a thing for a reason. Take some chances, have some fun and, oh yeah, try not to take yourself too seriously. It’s all about trying to connect with your audience in a personal, even emotional, way.
Lesson 4: You Don't Need to Get a Big Name for Big Results
This point applies to influencer-driven content specifically. When people hear that word, they think “big-name speaker” or “celebrity.” If you’ve got the connections (or the budget), good on you. But most don’t, especially right now. We always encourage our clients to expand their definition of an “influencer.” It’s not just social following and clout; it’s knowledge and expertise, accessibility and, here’s the big one for me … passion.
Your next influencer could be a consultant who works closely with your target audience, an editor for a relevant trade publication, a client or even a member of your team! An ideal internal subject-matter expert could be a division executive, a member of your C-suite or a product developer. It really depends on your target audience. Just focus on being helpful, adding value and having a great conversation.
Bottomline used a variety of influencer types in an influencer campaign that was so successful that they turned it into an annual program. Register for our upcoming case-study webcast to see how they did it.
Lesson 5: Find Ways to Surprise and Delight
With a few clicks on your keyboard or a few taps on your phone, you have access to a wealth of businesses with products and services to make your digital events incredible. Although the Sirius Summit went digital, the team brought the beauty of Austin, TX (where the event was supposed to take place), to attendees. Folks who opted in to share their address received a curated box of local goodies and a high-quality SiriusDecisions-branded wine tumbler.
Demand Gen Report partnered with GrubHub to send lunch to a select number of attendees so they could chow down as they fueled their minds. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and that’s half the fun! Think about what your audience would love that you can give them to make the event fun, easy or memorable. (Or better yet, all three!)
We’d love to help you build your community and connect with others. Once you get to watch this session on field marketing, let’s connect and uncover new ideas with your team … together.
Alicia Esposito is VP of Content, Retail, for EmeraldX. Formerly a Senior Content Strategist for Content4Demand, she oversaw the content and editorial strategy for B2B clients in a variety of industries. She also helped company partners and clients with their content strategy and creation efforts and has a passion for crafting immersive and relevant content experiences using new approaches to storytelling, interactive formats, influencers and more. When she’s not dwelling over all things branding, messaging and content strategy, she’s spending quality time with her family, binging on Netflix or eating guacamole.