One of the greatest things about working at Banzai is getting to hear about all of the really cool corporate events that our customers are hosting. While I typically hear the words “B2B Event” and think of a conference or a lunch and learn, I have been pleasantly surprised by their creativity—and the ROI is always impressive too! Here are a few of the most successful event ideas we’ve seen to impress your guests:
Executive Rooftop Dinner
When your goal is to make a sale, you need to find a way to connect with your prospects on a more personal level, while also making them feel comfortable and relaxed. One of the best ways of doing this is with great food. Find a local restaurant that has a beautiful view or venue with a rooftop deck to create an exclusive vibe, but make sure to also focus on somewhere that isn’t too loud for conversation. (Remember to ask your guests if they have any food allergies ahead of time!)
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Luxury Suite at Sports Game
While this may sound expensive, it doesn’t have to be a suite at a football game. Instead, opt for a nice soccer or baseball game, allowing everyone to be outdoors. Cheaper food options such as hotdogs are expected, hopefully saving you money if you’re planning to serve food.
During the winter, suites at hockey games or local college basketball games are always a fan favorite.
If going to a live event isn’t an option, consider renting out a local brewery during a big game, and inviting your guests to the viewing party.
Sometimes, the best way to get people excited about an event is to make it a competition. Host a hackathon or sports tournament (dodgeball anyone?) and encourage your companies to really get involved and participate. Your attendance rates will increase because you’re now focusing on bringing in teams of people versus individuals, while also encouraging community. Of course, it’s always a great idea to have the event be centered around a cause rather than selling your product, so I suggest selecting a charity that the event could raise awareness and funds for.
This strategy works really well for both your customers and target prospects. For your customers, hosting yearly, or even quarterly events and contests that are designed to make them feel valued is vital for any business. And for your prospects, this kind of personal interaction can help them see how your company functions as a team, and ultimately, what it would be like to work with you.
A Created Space
Sometimes a venue just won’t cut it and you need to build your own. This is where having a strong understanding of experiential design comes in handy. This doesn’t necessarily mean tearing out drywall and rebuilding the venue, it simply means to take the space you have and enhance or even mask it through a creative and immersive experience.
At SXSW 2017, HBO created a mega Escape The Room experience, by recreating the set of three popular HBO shows: Veep, Silicon Valley, and of course, Game of Thrones. Fans not only had the opportunity to feel like they were on the real-life sets, but were also fully immersed in the world as they tackled a series of challenges to get out.
This tactic not only creates a one-of-a-kind experience for your guests but also encourages community among your attendees. (Don’t ask about the time when some of the Banzai team members tried an escape room. We really can’t help you there, but we can help you get butts in the room! Proof below.)
Many companies offer a yearly stipend to employees for attending conferences or educational events. While I am not saying you need to host your event in Las Vegas, there’s a reason why those events are typically flooded with attendees—people are attending your event partially as an escape from their typical day, they deserve to have fun while doing so! Hosting your event somewhere that appeals to your target audience as a getaway not only helps increase attendance rates, but also overall brand perception and community.
Contrary to the above, try finding a venue that’s a little out of the norm. For example, does your city have an underground tour? Or maybe there’s a local museum with some fun history. The point is to pick something that many attendees wouldn’t normally have done before, creating a memorable (and maybe weird) experience! Whatever you choose, make sure it would appeal to your audience’s interests.
Make it Virtual
With the rise of virtual reality, live social media streaming, and more, your customers and prospects no longer have to leave their house to attend an event. Here are a few ideas:
- Use an influencer: Take a note from Amazon and their Prime Day Concert, you can use known influencers to attract a large virtual audience. This could be in the form of a concert, interview, comedy show, performance, or really anything you can think of that would be entertaining and relevant to your audience. Think of unique ways you can showcase your company’s value and services.
- Create a game: There’s almost nothing more immersive than a video game. Games such as Pokémon Go have proven the popularity of merging real-life experiences with the virtual world, and the brand awareness possibilities are endless.
- Devise a treasure hunt: If you know that most of your customers or prospects live in a centralized area, or among a few different cities, then consider hiding a prize (or ticket for a prize) somewhere in a public area. Host your “treasure hunt party” online over the course of a few hours and post clues on social media. Encourage users to share pictures of their hunt along the way, and post on twitter regularly with a hashtag to increase brand awareness. (TIP: If you really want, you could even make this a fully virtual treasure hunt by hiding clues in your website and social profiles—think Taylor Swift and how she is the queen of Easter eggs).
- Live Q&A/User group: This is an opportunity for your customers and prospects to really get personal with you and your product, especially for those who can’t physically come to you otherwise. While it’s good to have talking points, remember that these sessions are for your customers, so let them lead the conversation.
Make it Memorable
No matter what type of event you decide on, your goal should be to delight your guests through an experience they wouldn’t otherwise have. Your event should be a positive reinforcement of your brand, as well as motivate your guests. Remember that while it’s always important to have your product and pipeline goals at the core of every event, for your attendees, your event should never feel like a sales pitch.
What types of B2B events have you hosted recently? Let me know if I should add any good ones to the list!