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Pros and Cons of In-Person Events for B2B Marketing

art-live-events.jpgHere’s a follow-up to my previous post Pros and Cons of Remote Events. Even in today’s hyper-connected world, there are good reasons for in-person marketing events such as “lunch-and-learn” seminars. The traditional style of building a relationship with a potential client required you to get in your car, get on a plane, or pick up the phone–and that’s what you need to do for an effective group discussion or simply to connect more directly with prospects.

B2B Magazine Blog Post of the WeekIf you’re choosing between remote or in-person, factor in the time needed to present the information, the needs of the customers or prospects you’re targeting, and the physical locations of attendees.

Live events can include:

  • Executive briefings
  • Breakfast meetings
  • Lunch-and-learns
  • Seminars

Pros of In-Person Events

  • You can hold your audience’s attention longer. Remote events should last no more than an hour, but with a live seminar or briefing you can provide more in-depth information. Users or technical decision makers who want to dive deep into the details of your solution may want that extra time. Live events are also effective for prospective buyers who are further along in their purchase cycle–they’re more willing to commit the time to attend.
  • You can show attendees more. Have an on-site tour, show how your product is made, or let attendees see how services are provided. If your facilities are impressive, prospects absorb the atmosphere of your company’s success. Alternatively, you can invite prospects to events at your customer’s site to see your products or services in action.
  • Your audience can meet you and your team, and vice versa. A live event gives prospects a chance to meet and make a personal connection with you, and to vet you and your staff.
  • Attendees can interact with your happy customers. You can invite satisfied customers to your live event and have them mingle with hot prospects. These customers often act as your ambassadors and help sell the prospect on the benefits of selecting your products or services.
  • You can gauge audience reaction. Are attendees staring into space? If so, you’re either moving too slowly or too fast. Switch your gears and now you’re connecting with them. At one seminar I gave recently, I saw two attendees whispering and nodding to one another when I made a key point. When I caught their eye, they told me that they understood the value of the recommendation but didn’t know how to “get there from here.” Their immediate feedback let me outline specific strategies and tactics, and it created the opportunity to talk later about how my services could help.
  • Your venue can be a draw. If you’re holding an event at an attractive facility–at a casino or on a yacht, for example–attendance may be higher simply because the venue itself is a lure.

Cons of In-Person Events

  • Live events can be more costly. Expenses for travel, meeting rooms, audiovisual equipment, attendee meals, and parking can add up quickly. You’ll also need personnel to staff registration tables, meet and greet guests, and oversee event logistics.
  • They require a larger time commitment. Unless the event is being held at your site or your customer’s, you’ll both spend additional time traveling to and from the venue.

What factors do you consider? Please post a comment with any other pros and cons that have helped you decide to either hold a live event or “go virtual,” and I’ll let you know if I’ve got ideas on the topic.

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