Nick Bennett on Event-Led Growth
Nick Bennett currently heads up Events, Partnerships, Community, Social & Creator Studio efforts at Airmeet. With over a decade of marketing expertise, Nick brings a distinctive perspective to the marketing realm and is dedicated to bridging the gap between revenue teams to achieve the ultimate goal: revenue growth & retention.
As part of this mission, Nick has co-founded Revenue Era, a community of marketers that are obsessed with driving revenue over leads and also runs The Anonymous Marketer Podcast where we tackle the most pressing questions from the B2B marketing community. Based just outside of Boston, in his spare time you can catch him on the baseball diamond still playing America’s favorite pastime or spending time with his family.
We caught up with Nick to talk about event-led growth and B2B marketing. He has some great insights, so make sure to take notes.
As a seasoned marketer, you’ve run a lot of events, and now at Airmeet, you get to think a lot about this topic. What are some tips and tricks to run a successful online event?
I feel like B2B, from a go to market perspective, is broken in today’s world. There are three problems here.
First, there’s a disconnection in the remote workplace. Whether it’s remote or hybrid, as a B2B marketer you’re feeling that you can’t connect to your target audience. It’s leading to a lack of personal engagement in relationship building.
Second, information overload. Marketers are bombarding people with information, marketing messages, and it’s making it difficult to stand out and get noted.
And the third problem is inefficient pipeline creation channels. Traditional channels have become less effective. People can say email’s dead or cold calling’s dead. I don’t think anything is dead, but I do think traditional channels have become less effective depending on the industry and type of product or solution that you sell. So it’s leading to a decrease in conversion rates, which forces you to think about innovative solutions.
I think event-led growth solves a lot of these things as an overarching theme. It comes back to a people-first mentality, where people should be front and center, not the company.
There are so many companies that are putting brand spam out there. They’re just putting noise out there, but they’re not really adding to the conversation. I think it comes back to the people and the people that work for these companies.
I feel like I’m a good example of that where people associate Airmeet with myself now that I’m here. When I was at Alyce before this, people associated Alyce with me being there.
So I think event-led growth is going to solve this through really five different ways.
1. Virtual networking events. You have to make it engaging. You have to create a space for personal engagement and relationship building. So it helps overcome the disconnection of that hybrid or remote workplace.
With Airmeet specifically, we have Tables. I could go jump on a table with you and say ten other people, and we could just have a regular authentic conversation.I can get to know you, maybe someone else drops by. We can just have conversations.
2. You have to offer customized experiences. It’s catering to specific needs or interests of your target audience. How can you differentiate through the sea of information that’s out there with the events that you’re doing?
So many people run an event, but they don’t have any plan to distribute the content after.
I just did an event with Mark [Kilens, Airmeet’s CMO]. We have a plan for how we’re going to take all these clips that we’re creating. I’m going to put them on LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube shorts and things like that. We’re putting ourselves out there, we’re sharing how we think, we’re sharing how other people want to engage in the conversation, but we’re customizing it.
3. Leveraging the event data, which is what we call event intent. We get so much information from these events that we can then use to create specific content around pain points that we’re uncovering through polls, or through the chat, or we can see how many emojis are being used, how many people are coming on stage and talking about specific things.
4. Foster community building by creating opportunities for thought leadership. How can a B2B marketer establish himself as a trusted source of information and build lasting relationships? Being a subject matter expert myself, I feel like this is something that I’ve really doubled down on. How can I be that go-to expert for our sales team, for our CS team, for speaking at external events?
5. Utilizing event-led marketing automation. How can you streamline everything? We use HubSpot, so we basically streamline all of the information from the events that we do so that they’re more actionable for the teams that are looking at this.
How do you create content around your events? Do you have a content distribution framework?
Yes. Basically, there are eight ways to fuel your content engine with events. We call it the great eight.
So, you have events as the core thing, but all these other things that spin off from it are the framework that we’re building now. This is all the distribution we do after the event, with playlists, courses, podcasts, social clips, pillar pages, content bundles and ebooks.
We’ve done it with a few events and we’re trying to do a better job with it.
You mentioned leveraging intent data. So, what are some of the other ways you can connect the sales team to the actual event?
What we do right now is we get them to engage and invite their key prospects, key customers, things like that. We put together an event pack with everything they need to know about the event itself:
- What is the event about?
- Who’s talking at the event?
- Some social media copy
- Some email copy
- Who you should they be targeting
- Specific dashboards in HubSpot of people that could be a good fit for strategic or mid- market or SMB
They have everything they need to basically say, “I’m gonna go and target these people.”
You recommend using polls and chat conversations during events. What are some of the best things that you’ve seen that actually work? What kind of polls or what kind of questions work best?
I think the polls that ask something where it’s like on a scale of one to five how comfortable are you at something? Let’s say, for example, how comfortable are you creating content from the events that you run on a scale of one to five?
And we can see all of the answers. So if we say, alright, this specific audience is scaling towards one or two, meaning they don’t feel as comfortable, then we can change our talk track a little bit to be 101 level. Whereas if they say four or five, we can get a lot more tactical. We can dig deeper. It just allows you to get better intent signals and keep your conversation going.
What is a good way for a sales rep to follow up with a prospect who attended the event?
They could ask something like, “Hey, what did you think of this specific session?” Or maybe it’s like a multi-session type of event, so, “Hey, what did you think of such and such session earlier on content and how it ties into events? I personally really like this piece.”
You’re just starting to build that relationship, you’re not asking them about the platform or saying, “Hey, you should check this out.” But you’re furthering that conversation and that dialogue, so that they get to know you as an individual versus just a company.
They’ll feel more comfortable over time, maybe opening up to you and be like, “Hey, you know, this was pretty cool.” Or, “I remember Nick came out to me and talked to me at this event. I didn’t have a need six months ago to look at Airmeet, but I’m gonna look at it now.”
I think it’s just serving up the right content and the right experiences for the people where they are in the buying site. Ultimately, do we want to sell to all these people? Yeah, probably. But we’re not going to go out and reach out to them, but we have a PLG model. We have a free offer, so people can experience the platform if they want without having to worry too much about our sales team pitching them on everything.
What about getting every attendee into an email sequence after the event. Do you think the email nurture still works or are people tired of it?
I think it still works if it comes from an actual person. If a brand, like, let’s just say, Airmeet Marketing is sending you an email, you’re not going to care about that. But if you get an email that says my name and it’s talking about something specific, you’re probably going to open it because maybe you recognize my name and you are like, “Hey, I wanna see what Nick has to say.”
But maybe the offer isn’t ready for you or right for you or maybe it’s just not something that works, but you’re still going to open it because of the person versus the brand.
At Airmeet we’re sending everything as an actual person. Whether it’s emails, blogs, a book, whatever, we want people to associate the company not as a brand, but to think of the people in the brand.