In the world of B2B SaaS where digital marketing takes precedence and automation touches everything we do, in-person events are often an afterthought — but in-person events are a critical component of any successful growth strategy.
In fact, the majority of B2B marketers have ranked in-person events as their top-performing demand generation tactic. The consensus is in: it’s time to put the human element back into SaaS marketing.
The Value of Human-to-Human (H2H) Experiences in B2B Growth
Today, most businesses have the ability to perform all of the marketing, sales and services efforts remotely, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to set up in-person meetings with your prospects, partners and customers.
Genuine, one-to-one human connection is the one thing that your competitors can’t replicate with technology, digital content or automated outreach. No matter how outstanding your product or service is, nothing quite compares to the value and interest you can generate by looking your prospects in the eye, shaking their hands and solidifying your relationship.
Successful in-person events offer a number of benefits, including:
- Better sales conversations: When your salespeople have the ability to meet with your prospects face to face, they can respond more effectively to the nuances in their tone, body language and energy. Plus, interacting with your employees in person gives prospects a taste of what it’s like to work with your team, which could influence their decision to buy.
- Improved brand-building: In-person events are a great way to build brand equity. Just by making an appearance at important industry events and networking with other leaders, you can get your name out there and establish yourself as a key player in the market.
- Accelerated demand generation: As I mentioned earlier, in-person events are ranked as one of the top-performing demand generation tactics out there. In-person meetings can improve engagement across the board, from the prospect’s initial awareness of your brand to long after the sale closes.
- Partner networking: Attending events can help you stay relevant in your industry. For example, if New Breed, a Diamond-Tier HubSpot partner, didn’t attend the annual INBOUND conference, it might make us look out of touch. In-person events are an opportunity to reinforce your connections in the industry.
- Client success and retention: It’s much more difficult to give up on a product or service when you’ve formed a strong connection with the person or person(s) providing it. In that way, in-person events improve client relationships.
Most of all, in-person events are a great way to drive overall business growth. SaaS companies of any size can benefit from in-person events, but those in the growth/expansion stage will find in-person events to be especially helpful for achieving their marketing and sales goals.
For example, New Breed achieved over a 500 percent ROI from attending HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference last year — and we still have leads generated at the event in our pipeline. The bottom line is, factoring in-person events into your marketing and sales budget can reap major rewards for your business.
How Can You Use Strategic In-Person Events to Drive Business Growth?
Mind you, in-person events aren’t limited to industry conferences and trade shows. There are a number of different kinds of in-person meetings you can host, attend and/or sponsor to encourage company growth.
Industry Trade Shows and Conferences
The most popular in-person events are, of course, large-scale industry trade shows and conferences. Companies in later growth stages might be in a good spot to sponsor events relevant to their industry, but SaaS companies of all sizes can attend these events to enhance their brand awareness and, ideally, grow their pipeline and customer base in a short period of time.
Popular SaaS trade shows and conferences include:
- SaaStr Annual Conference
- Growth Hacker’s Conference
- Adobe Summit
- Content Marketing Conference
… and much more. Do your research to figure out which industry events are scheduled for the upcoming year and plan a budget, strategy and campaign for each event. Before investing in anything, look at the demographic information of who’s attending to understand whether or not the conference will attract your ideal customers.
If you’re renting a booth for the event, be sure to design an engaging, attractive display. Nothing brings a prospect closer to a sale quite like an in-person product demo, so you need to make sure your product is demo-ready for the show. Take some time to train your staff to leave the best possible impression on prospects who visit your booth.
Remember, industry events are great for lead generation, but they’re also opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. Plan time to attend educational sessions, expand your knowledge and adapt your growth strategy in accordance with the latest innovations and best practices.
Small-Scale Client Meetups
Small-scale meetups can reap as many rewards as large-scale industry trade shows. Sites like EventBrite, LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to find or organize smaller, local events to grow your network.
If you notice one of your clients is planning to attend a local event, send your customer success manager to meet up with them there to build rapport. Likewise, if you notice a company you’d like to partner with is hosting or attending a meetup, you need to be there. That’s a perfect opportunity to start forming a relationship with that company.
Because attending small meetups is much less of an investment than renting a trade show booth, you can be more creative and flexible about the types of meetups you attend. Things like culture, inclusion, business strategy and sales are relevant to professionals across industries, so attending events related to these industry-agnostic topics can show you care.
For example, I recently attended an OpenView panel discussing thought diversity among board members. Although New Breed doesn’t typically create content related to that subject, showing advocacy for and interest in that topic reflects positively back on our company.
Professional Networking Events
Regardless of your company or industry, making an in-person appearance at professional networking events can spark unique and beneficial relationships for your company.
Interacting with other professionals can put a face and personality to your brand, a human element that will serve you well as your business grows. In particular, networking events for industries relevant to your customer base are extremely valuable opportunities for your salespeople to capitalize on.
It’s always a good idea to immerse yourself in your prospects’ culture and industry, even if it’s not directly related to your business model. Use these events to expand your knowledge and bring what you learned back to your company to optimize your processes in the future.
Whether you’re hosting an international industry conference or merely attending a local networking event, meeting face-to-face with your prospects, clients, partners and other industry leaders adds a valuable and irreplaceable layer of empathy, personality and humanity to your company.
So don’t let digital engagements overshadow the human-to-human connections you can form during in-person events. Hosting, sponsoring or attending in-person events can be a highly effective method for driving SaaS growth.