TL;DR: This article outlines 11 proven tactics for B2B event planning, including running paid ads, sharing content on social media, leveraging guest speakers, sponsoring industry publications, and more, with practical tips and examples for each.
Successful B2B event marketing is a big job, especially if you want to drive lots of signups (100+) on a tight deadline (under a month).
Each part of event planning has its own challenges and considerations.
In the next sections, we’ll look at 11 different ways to plan a B2B event and drive brand awareness (without creating multiple websites).
These ideas can help whether you’re putting together a big business conference or a small webinar as part of your B2B marketing event strategy.
We’ll talk about what each idea is, why it’s helpful, and how to make it work for your event.
Here’s what to expect:
- Run paid ads
- Share content on social media
- Mobilize your guest speakers
- Sponsor industry publications
- Use email marketing
- Host “know before you go” webinars
- Provide pitch paragraphs and letters
- Involve your executive team
- Involve your customer success team
- Involve your sales team
- Launch a referral program
Let’s dive in.
Run paid ads
If nothing else, start with ads.
Running paid ads can include search engine advertising, social media ads, display ads on websites, and more.
Ads are especially useful to any B2B marketer short on time, as you can run them ASAP while you work on other tactics.
Ads allow you to target specific audiences and reach prospects who might not find your event through organic channels. This can significantly increase your event’s visibility.
You can also track the performance of your ads and adjust them to get the best results.
For example, if you’re hosting a tech conference, you might run Google Ads targeting prospects in the tech industry, using keywords related to the conference topics.
To run paid ads effectively:
- Identify your target audience and the platforms they use
- Create engaging and visually appealing ads (your design team, Upwork, or Canva can help)
- Set a budget and monitor the performance of your ads
- Adjust as needed to optimize results
Running paid ads requires a budget, and if not done effectively, it can be costly without delivering the desired results.
It also requires expertise in ad creation, targeting, and analysis, which might require hiring a professional or investing in training and tools.
While they can be a powerful tool, you should use them together with other B2B event marketing tactics, like social media, email campaigns, and personal outreach.
Share content on social media
Using social media helps you create excitement about your event among prospects.
You can post information, updates, and highlights about your event on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
This can include everything from promotional videos and speaker profiles to behind-the-scenes looks and countdowns to the event date.
This content marketing approach is valuable because:
- Social media is where many people get their information and stay connected with brands and events they care about
- Your content calendar can run in the background while you focus on other tactics
For example, if you’re hosting a professional conference, you can attract event attendees with LinkedIn posts about the speakers, topics, and networking opportunities.
Consider creating a content calendar and scheduling your posts in advance using a tool like Publer.
Use high-quality images and videos, write engaging captions, and use an event hashtag.
Managing social media requires time and effort, so consider that as you craft your event marketing strategy.
Mobilize your guest speakers
Guest speakers often have their own following and credibility, and highlighting their participation can make your event more appealing to people.
If you have well-known or respected speakers, a potential customer might come to the event specifically to see them.
Even if the speakers are not famous, their expertise and chosen topics can be a strong draw.
To leverage guest speakers effectively:
- Promote their participation in your marketing materials.
- Share their photos, bios, and topics on your website, social media, and emails.
- Consider hosting pre-event interviews or Q&A sessions with them to build interest.
Of course, relying too heavily on one or two speakers might overshadow other valuable aspects of the event.
If a guest speaker cancels or fails to meet attendees’ expectations, it can lead to disappointment and lost trust.
Sponsor industry publications
Sponsoring industry publications means partnering with magazines, journals, newsletters, podcasts, blogs, or other outlets relevant to your event’s industry or topic.
This can include placing ads, contributing content, or other forms of collaboration that promote your event to the publication’s audience, who are more likely to attend your event.
For example, if you’re hosting a medical conference, you might sponsor a medical journal by placing an ad on multiple websites or contributing an article about the conference’s topics.
If it’s a gaming convention, a partnership with a popular gaming blog might be effective in reaching your event goals and building brand awareness.
To sponsor industry publications effectively, identify publications that are most relevant to your event and audience.
Consider what type of sponsorship will resonate with the readers, whether it’s traditional advertising, sponsored content, or something else.
The publication’s advertising department should be able to share what works best for brand awareness based on previous campaigns with other event marketers.
Keep in mind that sponsoring industry publications can be costly, and it requires careful planning and execution to ensure it reaches the right audience and conveys the right message.
Use email marketing
Email marketing allows you to reach people directly in their inbox with targeted and timely messages around your event.
This can include newsletters, personalized invitations, updates, reminders, and follow-up emails.
For example, you might send an initial email announcing the event with early bird pricing, followed by updates on speakers, the agenda, and special offers.
After the event, you might send a thank-you email with highlights and a survey to gather feedback.
To use the email marketing channel effectively:
- Build and segment your email list to target different groups with relevant messages.
- Use engaging subject lines, clear and concise content, and strong calls to action.
- Consider using email marketing automation tools like Substack, Mailchimp, or ConvertKit to automate and track your campaigns.
Note that if your emails aren’t well-designed or relevant, your recipients might ignore or mark them as spam.
Also, managing an email campaign requires careful planning, consent, compliance with legal regulations, and ongoing effort to keep the list clean and engaged.
Host “know before you go” webinars
“Know before you go” webinars are online sessions that share event information with potential attendees who are interested in the event but haven’t yet committed to attending.
For B2B event marketers, these webinars can:
- Highlight what’s exciting about the event
- Provide a chance to interact with the organizers
- Outline the professional value the event offers
- Answer any questions people might have
For example, if you’re planning a trade show, a “know before you go” webinar might include a virtual tour of the venue, an overview of key exhibitors, and tips for making the most of the experience.
If it’s a training workshop, the webinar might include an introduction to the instructors, a detailed look at the curriculum, and testimonials from past participants.
To host successful webinars:
- Promote them well in advance and make them easy to access.
- Consider recording the sessions for those who can’t attend live.
- Provide opportunities for interaction, such as Q&A sessions, to make the webinars more engaging.
As a marketing channel, hosting webinars takes time, effort, and investment in an event platform.
Consider if you can truly invest in this option as part of your marketing effort.
If the webinars aren’t well-executed, don’t provide valuable information, or turn out to be too salesy, they might not have the desired impact.
Provide pitch paragraphs and letters
A pitch paragraph can help event attendees convince others, like their managers, to approve their attendance.
A pitch paragraph condenses the event’s value into a brief and compelling message, and can quickly convey what’s unique and appealing about the event.
A justification letter is a longer version of a pitch paragraph. It provides a more detailed and persuasive argument for attending the event.
For example, if you’re hosting a tech conference, the pitch paragraph might highlight the opportunity to learn about the latest technologies, network with industry leaders, and gain skills that will benefit the attendee’s career.
A justification letter for a professional development conference might detail the specific skills and knowledge that will be gained, how those will benefit the attendee’s work, and why this particular event is the best opportunity for that learning.
For people who need to get approval from their employer, a justification letter can make the process easier by laying out the reasons why the networking event is a good investment.
To offer effective justification letters:
- Provide a template that attendees can customize for different people internally.
- Include key points about the event’s value, but leave space for attendees to add their specific context and needs.
- Make the letter easily accessible, such as by providing a downloadable link on the event website (or offering one in exchange for email registration).
Of course, not all attendees will use the justification letter, even if it’s provided. Some might prefer to make their case in person, while others might not need approval at all (e.g., executives).
Involve your executive team
Getting the top leaders of your organization to participate in promoting the event can help drive signups.
This can include having them send personal invitations, host special sessions, or even attend the event themselves.
Execs often have significant influence and credibility and are great at building relationships.
A personal invitation from a CEO or other top leader can feel special and persuasive, especially when combined with analog formats (like a signed invitation card).
It can signal that the event is important and that the organization is committed to its success.
For example, you might have the CEO send a personal email to VIP customers inviting them to an exclusive dinner during the event.
Or the head of a department might host a special session or workshop that highlights their area of expertise.
This approach requires careful coordination and might take time and effort from busy leaders.
To make this approach effective, consider what will resonate with your target audience and what fits with the executives’ roles and personalities.
Then, provide them with the information and support they need to participate effectively.
Involve your customer success team
A customer success team often has a strong relationship with customers, especially if you’re running an account based marketing strategy.
They understand their needs and interests, and a personal invitation from them can feel more meaningful and persuasive.
The customer success team can personally contact customers and encourage them to attend the event through phone calls, emails, or other direct communication.
To make this approach work, consider creating scripts or templates the CS team can use.
Also, encourage them to personalize the outreach to reflect their relationship with each customer.
If not done thoughtfully, this outreach can feel intrusive or overly salesy.
It requires careful coordination and messaging to ensure it feels genuine and aligned with the customer’s interests.
Involve your sales team
You can boost event registration for live events or a trade show by tapping into the existing relationships and networks of your sales team.
This can involve offering rewards or incentives — like bonuses, prizes, or other perks — to encourage them to promote the event and get people to register.
For example, if you’re hosting a business conference, you might offer a bonus to the salesperson who gets the most clients to register.
Or you might provide special recognition or a prize for reaching certain registration milestones.
To use sales incentive campaigns effectively:
- Set clear goals
- Provide transparent rules and rewards
- Communicate what’s expected and how success will be measured
Of course, if not managed carefully, sales incentive campaigns can lead to unhealthy competition or unethical behavior.
Unrealistic timelines or aggressive quotas may lead to overselling the event or promising things that can’t be delivered.
Launch a referral program
People often trust recommendations from friends, colleagues, or other connections.
One B2B event marketing idea is incentivizing referrals helps you leverage your attendees’ networks to reach others who might not otherwise hear about your event.
For example, for every one of an attendees’ referrals who registers for the current event, you might offer:
- A 10% discount on future events
- Exclusive content or merchandise
- Exclusive access to a special session or speaker
Make it easy for attendees to refer others by providing them with shareable links, social media posts, or email templates.
Keep in mind that with referral programs, things can quickly get complicated.
Managing a referral program requires careful tracking, communication, and fulfillment, which can be time-consuming.
If the referral program is too complex or the rewards are not appealing, it might not be effective.
Other B2B event marketing tips to keep in mind
Understand your company’s reputation
If your company is well-known and respected, people might register for your event based on the company’s name alone.
Conversely, if your company is relatively unknown or has a mixed reputation, you may need to work harder to attract attendees.
For example, a tech company known for innovation might easily attract attendees interested in cutting-edge technologies.
A company with a reputation for poor customer service might find it challenging to convince people to attend.
To gauge your company’s reputation, you can conduct surveys, use online tools, or analyze customer feedback on social media or online review sites.
Of course, reputation might not be the only factor influencing attendance. Consider other elements like event content, pricing, and location.
Building or changing a reputation takes time, so this may not be a quick solution for boosting registration for a single event, but rather a part of a long-term strategy.
Plan for last-minute sign-ups
Expect that many people will only decide to register for your event close to the date.
This is common (even with B2C marketing campaigns), and understanding it can help you manage your event better (and not get discouraged by a low number of signups).
If you know that lots of people will sign up at the last minute, you can prepare for it and not be caught off guard.
For example, if you host an annual trade show, you might notice that registrations spike in the last two weeks before the event.
Knowing this, you can make sure to have enough materials, space, and food for everyone, even if the early registration numbers are low.
To help you plan better, you might offer discounts or special deals for early registration.
However, if you plan for too many last-minute sign-ups and they don’t happen, you might waste money on extra food or space.
And if you don’t plan for enough, you might run out of materials or room for everyone.
Review the total cost of attendance
The cost of attending an event can be a significant barrier for many people. It can be helpful to map out the total cost of attending your event.
This includes not only the ticket price but also potential travel, accommodation, and other related costs.
If the price is too high, even those who are interested in the event’s content might not o attend.
But if the event is related to work, attendees might be able to get their company to cover the costs, making it more accessible.
Hosting B2B marketing conferences in a major city might attract professionals who can have their employer cover their expenses.
But a hobbyist gathering with a high entry fee might deter enthusiasts who have to pay out of pocket.
To address cost concerns, try offering different pricing tiers, early-bird discounts, or group rates.
You can also consider hosting virtual events for potential clients who can’t travel out to live events in person.
A virtual event (perhaps as part of a hybrid event) can save you money, boost revenue, and still help you meet your event goals and drive B2B sales.
Provide clear information about what’s included in the ticket price and what additional costs might be incurred to help attendees make informed decisions.
And while offering discounts or special deals can attract more attendees, ensure your pricing aligns with the event’s goals and doesn’t undermine its perceived value.
Consider the timing
Timing is a key factor in event planning because it affects both the planning process and the event’s success.
If the event is scheduled at a convenient time for your target audience, more people are likely to attend.
For example, if you’re planning a professional conference, holding it during the workweek might make sense, as potential clients can attend as part of their job.
But if it’s a hobbyist event, a weekend might be better, so people don’t have to take time off work.
To make the most of timing, look at past registration trends to see when people are most likely to sign up.
You can also survey potential attendees to find the best time for the event itself.
Keep in mind that if you choose a date that conflicts with other major events or holidays, attendance might be lower.
Improve your B2B event marketing strategy
B2B company event success requires meticulous planning and attention to various aspects.
From working out your digital marketing strategy to enlisting support from your sales and executive teams, there are multiple approaches to pique people’s interest and boost attendance.
Each strategy comes with its own advantages and potential pitfalls, and not all methods suit every event.
With these ideas in your arsenal, you can simplify the process and increase your chances of achieving event success.