If you’re looking to win more B2B business, consider creating a business summit. Having been an Experience Engineer for more than 20 years, I’ve seen this strategy bring serious results. I have set up successful summits and created video and other content for them.

What is a Summit?

A summit is essentially a mini-conference that focuses on your area of expertise. Its purpose is twofold: first, you want to make attendees smarter. Second, you want to hook them into your brand so that they buy from you. It’s a careful balance between these two goals, but both are fully achievable.

The key here is giving away just enough information to make people glad they came without revealing your all of your special sauce. If you make people smarter and give them tools they can use, you become the authority in your industry. What you don’t want to do, however, is make this a summit all about how great your products or services are. You’re not holding it to sell...directly...but rather brand yourself as a thought leader.

Here are a few examples of what a B2B summit might look like for your sector:

  • A media company can inform and educate prospect advertisers about how to maximize advertising dollars.
  • A tech company can show small businesses how they can do more with the right software.
  • A travel destination can educate travel agents on how to boost sales to the destination.  
  • A financial services company can host a summit on financial trends and predictions that would help its audience sell more financial products.
  • A luxury brand can hold an experiential marketing event providing retailers with strategies to sell and upsell more during the holidays.
  • An insurance company can host a summit for brokers to give them cutting edge tools for increasing sales.
  • A law firm can educate on how new laws and regulations will affect a client’s business.

Strategies for Summit Success

DATE I suggest holding the conference midweek.  Stay clear of Mondays or Fridays.  Check and double check your calendar to avoid holidays, spring breaks, and other competing events.  

TIMING Consider  holding a three-hour summit in the afternoon with an opportunity to mingle after. If your clients are all over the country, one full day or a multi-day summit  may be a bigger draw.  

COMMUNICATIONS Have a clear communications strategy.  All your marketing collateral should clearly address why someone should attend your event. Why should they care?  Why they should not miss this? They should see a direct line to improving their own business goals if they attend. What will they get out of it? How will they benefit? It has to be worth their time to attend.

CONTENT Invite leaders in your industry to speak on their areas of expertise.  A well-known industry leader can help drive attendance.  Vary up the presentation styles. Mix up a keynote with a Include a few panels or group discussions. You could even have one of your clients present a case study on how you’ve helped them solve a problem.

LOCATION Choose a location that suits your brand.   A cutting-edge venue and a convenient location will drive attendance.  There are so many stale conference rooms out there, but think about how much more excited and engaged your attendees would be in a hip workspace or private room in the back of a hot restaurant. Presentation and location are everything, so break out of the standard conference space.

VIDEO AND BLOG CONTENT In order to engage the maximum number of people for your summit, keep the communication flowing from before the event to during to after. For those who can’t attend the event, consider livestreaming it or offering video recaps and blog content after. And stay in touch with attendees via email, because now they’re primed to be lifelong customers of yours.  Sharing blog recaps on LinkedIn is a fantastic way to reach more of your target audience. Even if they didn’t make it this time, they’ll be excited to attend next year’s summit.

POST SUMMIT RECEPTION Guests don’t attend events just to learn. They also want to network and meet others in the field. The post-summit reception is your opportunity to knock their socks off. Keep the reception at the same venue so that you capture people while they’re still excited about your event. Encourage speakers and thought leaders to make themselves available to meet attendees.

ATTENDEE FOLLOW UP After your summit, your attendees are primed to become lifelong devotees of your brand. You’ve provided them with educational value, and now you can dig better into their unwanted condition and pain point.  It is at this stage you are able to offer up a solution in the form of a product or service and make a sale.    

HOW TO QUANTIFY SUCCESS The key performance measure is: will people show and and will the right people show up? As stated earlier, it’s all about the value proposition.  Is three hours away from work a good use of my time?  As for the ROI, well that depends; if your cost per attendee is $500, you can cover that cost and possibly your entire summit with just one sale.

B2B sales are about relationships. You forge better relationships with potential customers when you can prove your value and knowledge in your industry. A summit is the perfect tool to do just that.