As B2B marketers events has always been an imperative in our marketing efforts. But ensuring our event plans are aligned to our go to market is always a bit of a challenge. And some industry events are boondoggles and provide little or no business value.

Here are a few ways to ensure your Event strategy conforms to your overall go to market.

Key #1: Analyze The Event Audience
Looking across hundreds of event plans that we’ve evaluated over the years one big misstep is investing in events that don’t have the right audience to support your business and marketing strategy. It’s the old, “well we did it last year, so….” But that isn’t planning that’s just re-doing — and expecting a better outcome.

So during your event selection process the best bet is to do an audience analysis. That is does the event’s attendees reflect the audience that will create business outcomes. Do you have an ABM or Key account strategy? If so, use it to guide you to the events that over index to those accounts. Heavy up the activation at those events and you will see a better ROI on your event marketing investments.

Key #2: Always Do a Customer Event
If you have more than 10 customers, do a customer event once a year — at minimum. Full stop. Beyond the benefit of the face time between management, account service, product and marketing teams and your customers. You learn much about your customers, how they perceive the world, the market, their industry, your brand and your product.

And one planning trick, do your customer event right before you do your annual planning. So the outside-in thinking is top of mind for your business planning across the executive team. This will help them get out of their own way and put the customer first in prioritization, areas for investment, etc. It’s a game changer. In particular for initiatives that require change management.

Key #3: For Sales, Smaller Is Better
We all like large industry events. But the key tactic for sales is smaller is better. Why? It’s more productive for sellers. That one-to-a-few time can make or break material deals. So a key activation at larger events is a private activity for a select group of prospects or customers with your management team.

A perfect example, while at MSFT at the Detroit Auto Show we would host a private dinner for 25-30 with 5-7 reps. A perfect ratio of 5 accounts, prospects or partners to each rep. Between happy hour, and steak dinner, over a few hours each rep would get at least 20 minutes with each key account business decision maker. To make it easier for the event marketing team, we’d also put it on the sales (or account) team to ensure attendance. They’d do the inviting and be on the hook (partially) for attendance. We’d give them each 5 “tickets” for the private dinner. Marketing would take ownership of all the logistics, branding, guest speakers or guests, etc. It was a win-win for marketing and sales. And the net is anecdotally deals would come out of these activities.

How do you ensure your event strategy aligns with your go to market? Share your reactions in our community on Slack.