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It’s no lie that the pandemic has forced B2B brands to lean into a stronger inbound marketing strategy. The postponements and cancellation of events and tradeshows forced businesses to rethink their marketing strategy. Up to 18% of companies changed how they do business in reaction to the crisis.
This means adopting a contingency plan to ensure your marketing and awareness objectives continue uninterrupted. In this case, agility can be a valuable advantage for making a seamless transition to other viable marketing channels and platforms, with the disruption of traditional networking strategies.
The most apparent impact of the crisis on the labour force was the dramatic shift to remote working. In the UK, about 8.4 million people (25.9%) worked from home during the pandemic. Consequently, this gave birth to a whole other form of networking, including webinars, virtual events, business podcasts, etc.
In this post, we’re going to look at some examples of budget-friendly networking strategies for B2B businesses in the new age of virtual events.
How can virtual networking benefit you?
With the disruption of global economies, businesses had to adapt and innovate to stay afloat. Virtual networking became the “new normal,” replacing physical connections such as in-person meetings, conferences, and events.
Here are the different types of networking events that have been developed in the last year:
- Webinars — These are online seminars or meetings that allow the host to share materials, such as videos, presentations, or web pages, with attendees. Webinars have audio and visual components. Attendees rarely participate in the webinar.
- Virtual conferences — This is a type of online conference that emulates in-person meetings. A virtual conference is more intensive than a webinar as it involves many moving parts and different players. It usually supports thousands of attendees.
- Social networking — This basically involves using social media platforms to stay connected with clients and other parties. For most B2B organisations, LinkedIn is the ideal platform to use.
- Professional community forums — Forums are also great for networking with like-minded individuals. Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and LinkedIn Groups offer a great place to start connecting with potential clients and partners.
These networking options allow you to host virtual events without the cost of renting a venue or space. They also request less to plan and execute than physical events. But, they can be affected by several factors, notably, we can think of poor internet connection as an obvious, but common hindrance to virtual networking. Also, the tech options can be pretty overwhelming for those who are new to virtual networking.
As such, we have shared some strategies you can use to save money on networking and host successful virtual events.
Strategy #1: Attend! Attend! Attend!
The success of your online networking depends on your digital presence. Whether you’re looking to attract new investors, acquire new customers or build professional relationships, building an authentic online presence is an excellent way to improve your reach and impact online.
When your business has an active digital presence, you create domain authority, improve brand exposure, and increase the chance of lead generation. Therefore, you’ll need to leverage channels that allow you to connect and engage with like-minded individuals. Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, GitHub, Product Hunt, and Reddit offer great platforms for building an online presence.
Additionally, you can also attend virtual events hosted by other organisations and businesses. This gives you an ideal opportunity to engage with other attendees and build meaningful connections. Plus, most of the events require no payment, giving you plenty of opportunities to network and build your portfolio.
Eventbrite and Meetup are great platforms for finding online events in your industry or location. The more events you attend, the better. Take advantage of such events to ask questions or answer questions if possible to build a stellar and active online presence.
Strategy #2: Host! Host! Host!
In-person events are usually costly to host — think about the expenses, such as venue, food, drinks, music, conference booth, security and insurance. Plus, the cost can quickly hit the roof if you have hundreds of confirmed attendees. In this case, your event gaining traction can add to your preparational stresses. If more and more people are signing up to attend, your resources need to be able to cater to them — causing a headache and distracting from the true goal of your event.
With virtual networking, you can host as many events as you want. All you need is a computer, sound recording equipment, internet connection, guest speakers, script and promotional materials. Plus, it becomes pretty effortless to host them once you have built a stellar online presence and established your niche/industry expertise.
In-person events are limited in size, depending on the size of your venue. — whereas virtual events are scalable. Finding the right streaming or hosting platform lets you host an event of up to 10,000 people. This enables you to connect with leads and industry peers on an international scale, at a fraction of the cost.
Strategy #3: Get third party help
The success of your virtual event depends on how you publicise it — just the same as a physical event. As such, if you want to target the right audience, you’ll need to seek third party help to publicise your event.
It can be quite budget-friendly and convenient to outsource some of your networking approaches. For example, you can work with experts to create content for your event ad, whether video, graphics, or text. You need an expert that can help you implement your message from strategy to execution.
Digital marketing agencies can help you create brilliant digital content that supports your efforts to network online. For instance, the right agency can offer —
- Supporting content and copy for events — You need content that creates awareness and educates your audience about your upcoming event. Rich content also helps you build authority in your niche or field.
- Copy for social postings — For social media marketing, your content should be precise and educational. More importantly, consistency is vital when creating social content. This is something that the right agency can help you accomplish
- Email nurture flows following sign-ups to events — Running email campaigns can help to give value to potential clients and attendees. Bear in mind that a drip campaign with generic emails won’t cut it — you need pros to elevate your game.
- Automated messaging — Even after getting the emails of potential attendees, you need to keep them informed and reminded about the event. Automated messaging saves you the time and effort of manually reminding your attendees.
The right B2B marketing agency can support you in your event production, taking the pressure off your general marketing function. This allows you to compensate for the lack of face-to-face events with great virtual networking events. Regardless of your goals, the agency can build value around your speakers and event topics while promoting the event in the right places.
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Get a grip on remote networking
COVID-19 pandemic is neither the first nor the last, meaning such disruptions are bound to occur. What matters is your ability to adapt to any situation and keep your business running seamlessly. Being innovative and creative helps you leverage technology to build agile systems and processes for seamless networking.
Thanks to technology, you can attend or host webinars and virtual conferences to expand and nurture meaningful relationships. Unlike in-person events, virtual events are somewhat cheap if you’ve been hosting or attending them. They provide an effective way of building contacts and closing deals, all from the comfort of your office or home.
If you’re hosting a virtual event, you need to define your audience, build a killer website or landing page, and create stunning content. For some businesses, this may seem a lot — that’s why it’s helpful to work with a digital marketing agency like Gripped to give your event the exposure and coverage it needs.