The SMART Way to Throw a B2B Marketing Event

B2B events, like other large-scale marketing efforts, take a lot of planning and strategy to maximize impact. The best way to throw a great B2B event is to be SMART about it. Making sure your event details are specific, your business goals are measurable & attainable, your attendees’ experience is relevant, and everything is created around an orderly timeline, is the easiest way to guarantee your event’s success.


Because event marketing can be time-consuming and have large initial costs, the first step to a great event is to get specific about why you’re throwing it. Before you even start planning, you need to figure out if the event is even necessary, the size of your budget, the audience you want to reach, and business goals you need to hit.

The more specific you can be with the event’s moving parts, the easier it is to create a successful outreach/invite campaign, content and social marketing pieces, as well as the perfect event experience for your attendees.


Event marketing is set to see a 6% increase in budget for 2015, but due to its perceived cost it can also be first on the chopping block for corporate cost cutting. By providing clear-cut and measurable objectives, event marketing impact ROI can be proven to your management, or more specifically, the ones who control your budget.

For a B2B event, it’s essential to identify your target attendees. Do you want to grow your revenue amongst existing customers, pursue new clients, or strengthen relationships within the industry? The answer to that question will help you develop a list of criteria to measure for the event. For instance, hosting an event solely for existing clients gives you an opportunity to upsell or learn more about their needs. With that in mind, your measurable objectives could be:

  1. Number of attendees who intend to purchase new or additional products/services as a result of attending the event.
  2. Attendee ratings of whether event staff seemed interested in hearing about their challenges/pain points.

One of the easiest ways to gauge your event’s ability to meet your goals is through the use of surveys. By using a variety of pre-event, on-site, and/or post-event surveys, you can quantify the impact of your event and identify opportunities for improving performance.


Along with being measurable, the most vital part of event goal setting is to make them attainable. Want 20 new enterprise SaaS leads from your hundred-person event? Great! Want them all signed up within a week after the event? Unlikely. It’s rare to meet such an objective shortly or even months after the event unless you’re directly selling goods or services to your audience onsite. However, events create enormous opportunity. In addition to measuring attendees’ intent to purchase new or additional products/services, multiplying the number of hot leads who attended by the average purchase price can help you estimate potential pipeline opportunity. These metrics, combined with the philosophy that event marketing requires playing the long game, and will help you set realistic goals and understand how to measure them.


It’s easy to stray away from what’s meaningful to your attendees or business by planning your event solely based on the cool factor or other stakeholders’ needs. Your B2B event needs to be relevant to your goals but also must incorporate the voice of the customer. Your speakers, activities and content should be aligned with the needs of your attendees, or they may see it as a waste of their time.

While a mechanical bull at your next client education forum sounds fun in theory, save the time, money and hassle by putting it towards finding a speaker or activity that’s enriching to your attendees.


If it’s not obvious yet, events can take up a lot of time. When it comes to a B2B event, timeliness is a broad term that covers the entire marketing and project management process. Your event should be hosted around a time that works best for your target attendees, meaning no holidays or peak vacation times.

Once the date has been set
, it’s necessary to stretch out your marketing touches (reminder emails, dated ticket discounts, speaker announcements) so that you can build excitement and potential attendees have plenty of prior notice. Most annual B2B events are marketed soon after their latest counterpart wraps up.

Finally, timeliness during the event is paramount. You want your attendees to have a structured but flowing schedule where things start and end as advertised. Nobody wants to miss their ideal session or worse, a flight home, because the keynote took forever to wrap up. In order to minimize confusion and keep an open line of communication between the event and attendees, creating an app or alert system to notify them of any changes is crucial for when unplanned things happen.

With the budget increases for event marketing, B2B events have more resources but also more to prove. By developing specific and realistic business objectives, responding to the needs of attendees, and establishing a holistic measurement plan, you raise your chances of throwing a SMART event. SMART is a widely used acronym that borders the edge of cliché, but when it comes to event marketing success, it just fits!

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.