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Why In-Person Events Matter in 2023, According to a B2B SaaS Events Expert

Here’s how to maximize revenue potential through events for your SaaS business.

In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to believe that everything can be achieved online. The truth is, that even in the world of B2B SaaS, there's no substitute for human connection – this is especially true when it comes to events. According to Marketing Charts, 68% of B2B marketers believe that live events generate the most leads. That’s because in-person events provide a one-of-a-kind, genuine chance for businesses to connect with potential clients, foster strong relationships with others in the industry, and ultimately achieve the networking potential for long term success.

For SaaS companies, events can serve as an exceptionally effective approach for acquiring leads at the top of the sales funnel, expanding their prospecting base, and creating opportunities to build authentic relationships with both customers and partners. After spending more than a decade organizing both B2B and B2C events, I know for a fact that investing in face-to-face events can truly benefit the bottom line.

Although I encourage the participation in all events (virtual, hybrid and in-person), we’re specifically exploring the advantages of in-person events, the best way to leverage co-marketing opportunities this year, and how to measure ROI for live events. Read on for some best practices to set your business up for success in 2023.

You might also like: How to get to know your channel partners in 2023.

The importance of in-person events to build SaaS professional connections

Now more than ever, in-person connections matter. Live events allow for face time with potential partners, a platform to showcase your products and access to a larger audience. This, in turn, makes live events ideal for connecting with potential customers, building brand awareness, networking with industry peers, gathering customer feedback, and generating top-funnel leads.

Just last year, PartnerStack hosted STACK’D – our first-ever customer summit to help our users ignite growth and form quality connections with industry leaders. This event created an opportunity for customers, partners and SaaS industry professionals within our ecosystem to come together to learn from one another — helping each other to scale and grow their partner programs. Attending events in person offers a unique and valuable experience by providing a dynamic and engaging environment that cannot be replicated virtually. The rapport developed face-to-face is unmatched; interactions feel more organic and, let’s be honest, it creates focused time that text messages and notifications can’t easily interrupt. 

Related: Why authenticity in DEI practices in the workplace leads to better business.

How product-led marketing can benefit from live events

Product-led event marketing involves using an event to showcase your products or services to engage with potential customers and co-selling partners. The goal is to create a memorable experience that will leave attendees with a positive impression of your company and its offerings, leading to increased sales and customer loyalty

Last year PartnerStack achieved more than a 125% return on investment within just three months of attending an industry live event. This was through the meticulous pre-event outreach, promotion, and scheduling of in-person meetings, as well as the dedicated follow-up efforts on-site and post-event to solidify the connections made. Attending events creates business value, which is why PartnerStack actively seeks out and participates in relevant ones as hosts or attendees.

Co-marketing is a win-win for partners involved 

As we look ahead, it's clear that businesses are facing tighter budgets and reduced resources. In this landscape, it's important to explore new ways to maximize your impact and stretch your budget further. One solution is to partner with other businesses to pool your resources and collaborate on shared initiatives. This approach can be particularly effective when it comes marketing efforts and events. By partnering with another company, you can combine your strengths and reach a wider audience than you might be able to on your own.

At PartnerStack, we have seen firsthand the benefits of co-marketing with our partners. By working together to promote each other's programs and offerings, we have been able to tap into each other's existing customer bases and reach new audiences that we might not have been able to on our own. This has not only helped us increase brand awareness and generate more revenue, but it has also allowed us to forge stronger relationships with our partners and provide more value to our customers.

When done right, partnering with another business can be a win-win scenario for everyone involved. By collaborating, you can be more impactful and effective, while building stronger relationships and expanding your reach. So, if you're facing budget constraints or looking for new ways to grow your business, consider reaching out to potential partners and exploring the possibilities of working together. After all, partnerships make it possible to go further together — that’s why partnerships are so important and core to PartnerStack’s ecosystem.

How to measure ROI for live events

Measuring return on investment for live events can be challenging, but it is an essential part of evaluating their success. There’s data to suggest that event marketing can support pipeline growth and potential revenue. According to Statista, 44% of marketers encounter a 3:1 ROI from event marketing”. However, the measure of success will depend on your company's goals and industry benchmarks. 

Measuring ROI starts by setting clear goals and objectives, followed by tracking on-site attendance and engagement, calculating revenue generated, and managing total event costs. The magic equation to calculate event ROI is:

(Event Revenue - Event Cost) / Event Cost x 100

For example, if an event generated $50,000 in revenue and cost $20,000 to produce, the calculation would be: ($50,000 - $20,000) / $20,000 x 100 = 150%. This means that for every dollar invested in the event, $1.50 was returned in revenue.

As with ROI calculations, Sequel.io says there are two ways you can improve your ROI — reduce your costs so there’s a lower investment, or increase the value and in return get a higher return.

It’s important to analyze the results of the event and adjust your strategy for future opportunities. This approach can help optimize the annual budget for the best possible return on investment for your live events. For example, at PartnerStack we're found that when we connect with our partners and customers at least three weeks before the event date, we've noticed a significant rise in the number of on-site meetings. Since every attendee has their own itinerary, it's crucial to ensure that you're included in their plans ahead of time.

Related: Partner program KPIs: The metrics you should measure and optimize.

Best practices for successful in-person business events in 2023

Opinions differ on event attendance and investment strategies. However, whether you're attending an event, hosting a happy hour, leading a speaking session, or having a booth presence, being prepared and following up with new leads is crucial for success. 

Showing up to an event unprepared can result in missed opportunities, a poor first impression, and ultimately a waste of time and money. On the other hand, being well-prepared allows you to make the most of the event. You’ll have more engaging conversations, present your product or service in a compelling way, and establish new connections more successfully if you’ve done your homework.

Pre-event checklist

This pre-event checklist should set you up for success ahead of the big day. Make sure you’re prepared with the below:

  • Conduct research on the event and its audience or attendees
  • Define your goals for attending
  • Proactively contact the individuals you wish to connect with
  • Rehearse your elevator pitch
  • Bring along relevant marketing materials
  • Dress appropriately to make a positive first impression 

To ensure effective follow-up with attendees, it's important to avoid exhaustion during the event. Plan ahead by developing a follow-up strategy prior to the event, and remember to connect with new acquaintances on LinkedIn afterwards. By maximizing your time and effort with pre and post-event work, you can secure leads and make the investment worthwhile.

In-person events offer unparalleled opportunities to build relationships, gain new customers, and generate revenue that cannot be fully replicated in virtual settings. Don't miss out on the rewards that come with face-to-face interactions. Embrace these opportunities with enthusiasm, and always be prepared to participate actively. 

Are you interested in where team PartnerStack will be in the coming months? Meet with us face-to-face at RSA Conference in San Francisco from April 24- 27, 2023 and visit the The Pinnacle Program booth at Global Cloud & Innovation Summit, in Las Vegas from May 15-17, 2023. Let’s connect.

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