Three Ways to Optimize Partner Events for Greater Impact and ROI

Published On: April 17, 2018Categories: Aligning Channel Sales and Marketing, Buzz, Uncategorized

Companies invest a lot of time and effort – not to mention money — in events. In 2014, Frost & Sullivan estimated that B2B events accounted for $512 billion in annual spend, and there’s no doubt that number has multiplied. In working with many of today’s leading tech companies, what I’ve observed is this: an organization can have a really big partner event budget, but still lack a cohesive event strategy.

For the best results, partner events – whether for training, feedback or appreciation – should not be done without a plan and goal in mind. Each one should be purposeful in assisting channel partners with revenue growth either by supporting them with key aspects of selling and delivering a vendor’s solutions or helping them bring greater value add to the end-customer. To do this effectively, a partner event framework should be as thoughtfully mapped out as all other parts of the channel strategy.

As our clients kick off another events season, I’d like to share some strategic tips for achieving the highest return on your event investment:

  1. Build a Framework – Having a methodology in place for partner events ensures each event remains focused and consistent across initiatives. An event methodology should identify the various types of events a company will host (webinars, road shows, lunch and learns, etc.) and map those to specific business needs (new product launch, recognition, education, feedback, etc.). A framework can provide guidelines for the human and digital touches that should be made after events conclude and offer a blueprint for evaluating and responding to feedback captured at events. Companies with these prescriptive methodologies in place are more strategic about the partner events they offer and tend to deliver a more targeted experience, with a greater return on investment.
  2. Make “Partner Growth” a Common Theme – The competition for partner attention is fierce, and tech companies have to make their events not just worthwhile, but beneficial to the partner company. For every event hosted, ask these questions: what’s in it for the partner and how will attending this event help them drive revenue?A partner account manager, systems engineer, or principal could spend every day of the week attending an event of some sort. There is no shortage of invitations. That said, partners will keep coming back to events that are truly partner-centric. While each event will have its unique set of objectives, all should serve to move the partner towards revenue growth. We always recommend that our clients identify the desired outcomes for every event and consider how those outcomes contribute to the larger “partner growth” strategy.
  3. Consider Self-Funding Strategies – Sponsorship models are becoming increasingly popular in the channel, and for good reason. For sponsored events, vendors charge ecosystem vendors for event participation and exposure. This approach may pertain to smaller, one-off events (for example, booth presence at a solutions fair or a giveaway sponsorship) or it may include a suite of five or more participation opportunities at a series of events throughout the year. For vendors with a strong brand presence, self-funding models can be a particularly easy sell. They create visibility across an entire ecosystem of synergistic technology providers and potential buyers and offer a one-stop shop for partners to save time by seeing all their top vendors in one place.

Bottom Line: Zero in on the Needs of the Partner
At the end of the day, your partners may work with five or more other vendors, so when it comes to events, take time to think about how to best serve their needs and how to help them make the best use of their valuable time. Ask yourself a few essential questions: What does a partner have to gain from attending an event? How can technology advancements, best practices or real-world cases help partners further grow their business? With the right mindset as well as a value-driven framework and strategy, you can achieve better ROI for your organization and for your partners.

If you’re in need of added strategy and support for your partner events this year or want to get ahead of the game for 2019, please get in touch with us. As always, we’re here to help!

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