Small events can generate big results.
With the right planning, execution, and evaluation strategy, executive events can enhance an account based marketing strategy.
But in order to work, they require a different approach than a traditional events strategy.
Executive events are not really about lead generation. Instead, they impact your funnel, ultimately creating measurable increases in revenue.
We recently interviewed Beau Roberts, Chief Marketing Officer at K7 Computing, a company that provides endpoint community solutions for businesses and users. Beau has been doing marketing and product management in cyber security for 20 years. In his spare time, he advises early stage cybersecurity startups about marketing and does consulting around marketing and go-to-market strategies.
We talked about how using executive events as part of an ABM marketing strategy.
What Are Executive Events?
Executive events end focus on the high-level executives within an account. My recommendation is to focus on a thought leadership message.
Executive events are small, VIP, invite-only functions. They can be round tables, dinners, or lunches, but they are always targeted at preselected accounts. ABM tends to prioritize lead quality over lead quantity and to focus on engagement. That’s where executive events really excel.
The best way to look at executive events is to compare them to the traditional industry trade shows and conferences, which usually account for the majority of events budgets. In cybersecurity, for example, you have shows like Infosec, RSA, and Black Hat. Every industry has their big show or conference, which is often expensive but attracts a large and broad audience. Historically, marketers measure an event’s success by the quantity of leads collected, but lead quality was somewhat of an issue.
These large trade shows serve many different functions, including public relations and media, partner meetings, business development, thought leadership, and conference speaking.They provide excellent value and ROI, but a lot of smaller, less experienced companies aren’t positioned correctly and can’t execute properly to win at these shows.
Besides, at a big show, you are at the mercy of whoever shows up at the venue.
Executive events, however, are flexible. They can augment your trade show and conference strategy and can target specific industry verticals. You can also use these events to maintain momentum between the major trade shows and conferences.
By using an ABM approach, you generally have a good understand of who your target accounts are. Your initiatives are directed on trying to get high quality engagement with those targets. Executive events do that.
They can take different forms, including an executive dinner, a roadshow, or a customer appreciation dinner at a large industry show with an invitation to select prospects. That last idea can be especially powerful since the customer feels like a VIP but also serves as your spokespeople and recommenders to targeted prospects.
How to Measure an Executive Event’s ROI?
Executive events are not really about lead generation – although that should be one metric. You are going to open new deals from these events. But they tend to be more about creating impact or influence on your funnel. They move deals faster and help to close. When considering ROI, therefore, you want to measure influence on the pipeline and ultimately revenue.
If you are a company with a long sales cycle (6-12+ months), it is difficult to measure the results of a particular event in the short term. You have to design your event program for a long-term perspective and not try to evaluate it in a quarter.
With that in mind, when you do executive events, send your A team. It’s a good way to put your best thought leaders, speakers, or c-suite people in front of the senior executives of these target accounts. It’s also a great opportunity for them to build thought leadership and really tell the company’s story in a way that’s not a hard sale or a product pitch.
Things to Do at Executive Events
When planning your event, keep these tips in mind:
- Get buy-in and participation from the right people at your company. Executives want to socialize and talk with other executives.
- These events become more successful with experience.
- Your objective is to educate and build your thought leadership. Executives are busy people, and most are not going to take time to attend your event for a good meal and wine. They are interested in learning something new.
- Focus on educating and influencing your target’s point of view around the subject but avoid the sales pitch. The key is thought leadership. Establish that and you secure your credibility, which lowers your prospect’s guard and influences their movement through your funnel..