Account-based events: Get experiential with ABM

Account-based events: Get experiential with ABM

Event marketing’s been around since the day dot. Since the very beginning of Victorian commerce, like-minded individuals were coming together to show, tell, educate and sell.

What the explosive popularity of the internet over the last 20 years, events have been one of the more traditional marketing tactics that have suffered as a result.

That is until now. Through an account-based marketing (ABM) lens, events are back with a bang. Enter account-based events.
OK – buzzword alert. Let’s define it. Account-based events are events that are either attended or organised with specific accounts in mind. This differs from a traditional events approach that concentrates on bigger-is-better metrics like:

  • The amount of people you engage at a trade show
  • The amount of footfall to a booth
  • The total number of registrations and attendees to an event
  • The total number of leads generated

Much like in the other areas of ABM, with account-based events – we’re not bothered about any of those things. We dismiss them as vanity, part of the paradox of numbers. We’re bothered about closing deals and generating revenue in our target accounts. If an event can support these simple and straightforward goals, then you should jump in with two feet (suitable footwear advised).

Here are three ways we’ve used account-based events to drive a revenue number from a customer’s ABM list.


Supplier roadshows

You’d be surprised how many big companies you’d love to sell to have specific programmes to make it easier for people like you to sell to them. Whether it’s public or private sector, Meet the Buyer or Supplier Showcases are pretty commonplace now in bigger organisations the world over. It’s an efficient way for buyers to assess new companies, products and services in a short amount of time – rather than meeting with companies individually. Logistically, it will usually mean meeting at the HQ of the respective business, if they can accommodate it, or perhaps a local hotel. Potential suppliers usually pay a modest fee to cover event organisation.

Be aware: with these events you need to be very clear on what your message is. Every man and his dog will be there, most likely including your closest competition. This means your brand and its comms will need to stand up to serious scrutiny.

It’s definitely worth going down your ABM list and reaching out to the procurement teams of the organisations you wanna do business with in a courteous, professional way. Just leave the sales sleaze at the door.


The host with the most

Build it and they will come. If your accounts don’t have supplier roadshows, or you have killer new IP that you want to get in front of your ABM accounts before your crafty competition, then why not put your own ABM event on?

We’ve cut this as a couple of different ways in the past:


Putting on an event at their place

Some accounts have a very open setup which make them ideal. Universities and colleges for example, as semi-public campuses, have great catering facilities and are usually perfect spaces to host something. It would be super-easy and ridiculously cheap to put on a half hour breakfast and coffee for an internal team to get them hands on with a new product.

Alternatively, if the facilities don’t exist onsite at your ABM account, then you can adopt the same principles but host at a local hotel or landmark. However, we’ve found engagement and return is far better on events hosted at ABM site. I guess it follows that your ABM targets are busy people and that extra travel time, no matter how small, can make all the difference. Plus they’re on site if they’re urgently needed to attend any issues in their respective department that may arise and need reacting to.

If the budget allows, and you have a resource to put on it, roadshows can give you an extended benefit over a number of months. If you’re a product business, get a big articulated lorry branded up and fitted out with your latest and greatest. If you’re a service business, you can set up an education suite or mobile learning hub to deliver informative workshops. The result is immense impact and a really strong statement to your ABM accounts that you want to do business with them.


Corporate hospitality

The prominent rise of account-based events as a result of the ABM craze has resulted in somewhat of a second wind for corporate hospitality. For the last 30 years, corporate hospitality has been a wicked way to build strong relationships with existing customers and prospective customers. It’s not been without waning though. Ever the party pooper, the UK has some of the strictest anti-bribery regulation in the world. Nothing kills the party spirit like the word ‘compliance’ and many marketers were put off off corporate hospitality for a while. Now the dust has settled, UK marketing profs are more comfortable with the distinct differences between corporate hospitality and bribery.

In our experience, corporate hospitality works best when you have an existing relationship that needs nurturing or strengthening. ABM is a great tool here.

Using your insight, you can tailor a corporate hospitality experience to directly accommodate as many of your target accounts as possible. It’s another example of the utmost importance of having a deep understanding of what makes your accounts tick.

You need to use this newfound knowledge to choose your path carefully. It could be the difference between an event that provides a big return and a wash out that costs you tens of thousands of pounds for very little in return. It’s easy to get wrong. If it’s sports, which sport? Which teams within that sport? Which date? If it’s not sport, what it is? How do you make it appeal to the different types of people you want to invite? That’s without going through logistics – which again can be another minefield to manoeuvre through.


Do something

So there you have it. 3 methods to explore and experiment with. They all have their merits and their pitfalls, and the right blend will very much depend on your business, the level of competition in your market, and your budget. But with an investment of a little bit of brainpower and time, account-based events can really rev up your revenue and accelerate your account-based marketing towards the stratosphere.