In 2019, the event roadshow was one of the largest B2B marketing trends. It has become the go-to solution for B2B companies because it provides the opportunity to get face to face with customers in an open welcoming environment when their only focus is on your products or services. B2B roadshows are a way for companies to directly take the trade show out of the convention hall in front of the key decision-makers and into their parking lots or near them at a local hotel.
Event roadshows have the advantage of being a geography-spanning nature, meaning they can be designed and strategically planned to offer a rifle approach to your customer engagement strategy. Therefore, planning a B2B roadshow event requires industry insights, customer information, quality planning, and B2B event marketing strategies if you want to achieve event success.
Since the popularity of conventional trade shows is on a steady decline, many decision-makers don’t feel compelled to go to Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, or other popular trade show locations and spend the week collecting brochures and talking to potential customers. Some of the biggest shows in the B2B industry have recorded low attendance of high-level decision-makers, which is why brands are cutting back on the number of trade shows. Think about the executives at your customers and how often do you get face to face with them? Luckily, there is a way to circumvent the issue by picking up a mobile vehicle and taking your marketing campaign directly to your target audience.
What is a B2B Mobile Roadshow?
A B2B mobile roadshow (also called a mobile trade show, mobile sales center, and mobile trade show tour) is a form of experiential marketing strategy where a company packs up its products and services and takes its offering from market to market engaging key customers and prospects in a well-planned experience that drives brand awareness, excitement, quality conversations, relationship enhancement and ultimately, sales. The event series consists of half-day or whole-day events at customer locations with the intention of reaching all the decision-makers because you make it so simple for them to participate – you are set up right outside their front door. One huge value of a B2B mobile roadshow is that it provides one-on-one interaction between your customers with your marketing, sales, and product teams in an intimate, no competition in sight, memorable experience.
1. Set goals
We believe starting with the end in mind is key to any marketing program. So, before you decide where to go or who needs to experience your products or services, you must all agree on what goals are important for your business. In order to achieve these goals, you need to make your roadshow tour by creating events at as many key customers as possible so you have the chance to move the most product or services in the shortest amount of time. For some of our client’s roadshows, we add internal and customer training as a goal for the roadshow because if it is a new product or service, training is going to be a key goal for their business. Everything your company does must be measured with the right metrics and goals tied to it in order to create opportunities for tracking the customer’s decision-making process and ultimately, closing business.
2. Layout the overall plan
Mobile roadshow planning starts with a clear plan and a well-researched list of target accounts. This is the initial stage of planning when it’s crucial to establish why it is necessary to launch a roadshow series and how each part of your campaign can support your overall goal. Are you going to visit B2B prospects in several regions? Are you planning on covering the entire US and Canada? How do those customers in each city support your roadshow campaign?
Articulate the Whys and Whats. What are you going to provide the event attendees specific to the experience and your brand story? How will you keep the B2B attendees engaged from the beginning of your campaign through after you leave their parking lot? What type of personalized storytelling, brand experiences, product demonstrations, technology-driven or digital experiences via event mobile apps will you have in your overall customer experience?
Typically, attendees come to an event for several reasons – to learn something and leave smarter, to become more connected, and to find solutions to the issues they face. Start with the end in mind and think about what needs to happen at every location you visit. Have a one-sheet document that maintains the current situation for each customer. What are they looking to see? What specific products or services are they really interested in seeing come alive? Who are the main guests who are attending? Who else in the company would we like to come out and see our event, and more?
Companies add B2B roadshow events to their marketing strategy because they want to:
- Build brand awareness, promote lead generation, and break through the clutter
- See key decision-makers interacting with their brand in a live environment
- Show key customers and prospects that you truly care enough to come to them
- Opportunity to engage decision-makers and their support teams all at once
- Build B2B pipeline and convert sales
- Add a spark to their traditional marketing strategy internally and with customers
3. Harness the event data
Since it is a B2B mobile roadshow event, you already know who your target audience is – key decision-makers and support teams in B2B companies. But other questions arise, such as:
- What kind of product experience would be most relevant to them?
- How will the customer benefit from attending your roadshow event?
- Which cities and companies would attract the right roadshow attendees?
- How would your event affect your overreaching business goals?
To understand your target audience, you should explore all the available information that you have collected at previous meetings/events. It will give you a better understanding of how to design a roadshow series that will resonate with your audience. If you haven’t done any roadshow events in the past and need to determine if a B2B marketing roadshow is right for your brand, conduct research by discussing the opportunity with your sales team to learn more about their current obstacles within the sales process. Adding a strategy like the B2B mobile roadshow could be just the right energy and excitement your sales team needs to generate more incremental sales. In most cases, every prospect or customer needs to receive an invitation for your marketing roadshow, and the logistical key is to make sure your route creates the most event days with minimal multiple travel days between stops to maximize your budget.
4. Know the local market rules and regulations
Different customer locations will have different planning needs and information shared. If your customer owns its building and parking lot, working with their facilities manager will probably be the only contact you will need to secure the best location for your event. However, if your customer leases the building and parking lot, you may have to include a contact at the landlord to make sure you understand all of their needs prior to showing up. In some markets, you may have to find a neutral location and if so, there could be site fees or local permits you will have to pay for in order to set up your event. Find out everything about local market rules and regulations, and make sure that your team is informed properly about all the details. Once you map out your roadshow series route, then explore the regulations of every city because it could largely impact your roadshow tour’s success.
5. Set your staff up for a successful event
Since most of your events will be in your customer’s parking lot, be sure to consider the weather during your tour. Your event management should be prepared for any potential challenges. Things out of your control can happen during field events, so prepare your staff with extra supplies, water, heaters or fans, rain gear, and backup clothes. Also, make sure that your brand ambassadors are fully trained and have the necessary experience to handle all of your tour procedures, driving the tour vehicle, fully trained on your products and services, and on load-in and load-out procedures. We believe 90% of the success of any event is the right team and extensive training of how the program will be activated. Fortunately, we have been doing events since 1995 and we have the best people and the best training available.
6. Roadshow theme and event content
Choosing the right theme for your roadshow event will give you a framework for planning and organizing your content and will be the foundation for your brand story. It can help you select the best internal team to be at events, how the customer will experience your products or services, and what data you will capture before, during, and after the roadshow event.
After you’ve laid down the roadshow event blueprint and decided on important issues, it’s time to plan out the content. The content needs to be tailored for each B2B company you plan to visit while maintaining a unique and unifying message. Set aside enough time and funds to plan out the content marketing for the event, so the messages resonate with the key decision-makers in each customer location. Think about creating interactive experiences so the customers can test your product/service with all their senses and get the right feeling. Adding interactive experiences may not be possible in a setting such as a trade show, which is more structured and houses a larger audience. Since the number of attendees will be much smaller (and, targeted), you can take advantage of creating a great experience that may include a seminar environment (training) or workshop event.
7. Choose the right event vehicle
What dictates the type of vehicle you should choose are the venues you chose, type of message you want it to communicate (via exterior branding), and possible customizations that add exclusivity. Some examples are:
- Box truck – if you don’t need a vehicle for your activation, but just a vehicle to transport your event equipment, you can rent a box truck, load it up with essentials, and hit the road. Or, if you need a small space that is environmentally controlled, you can customize a box truck to include steps, entry door, HVAC, lighting, displays, and even a generator for power.
- Double expandable tractor-trailer – for a larger immersive experience, an expandable tractor-trailer is your perfect vehicle. It’s a large vehicle that you can fill with many different engaging and cool activities for an amazing experience.
- Branded trailer and towing vehicle – if your roadshow event activation is smaller than what a tractor-trailer provides, you can use a branded vehicle to tow a 20’ to 48’ trailer.
There are so many other vehicles that we can recommend to meet the needs of any brand that sees the value of gathering up all their products or services and going directly to their customer’s parking lots where there are no competitors and you have the opportunity to get attendance and engagement at all levels of your customer’s organization.
8. Determine the metrics and tracking
Measuring your success is crucial so you can know whether your roadshow strategy was on target. The metrics for measuring the success of your events relate back to your goals. For example, if your goal was new product quotes, be sure to track new quotes for each sales professional. If you are looking to increase relationships, maybe you track who attended and who didn’t along with the level of the conversation as your customer was experiencing your roadshow. Were you able to uncover their needs for today and in the future? If so, the trust level is probably really high and they see you as a valuable partner. If it is customer retention, you can rely on CSAT (customer satisfaction) and NPS (net promoter score) scores (and see how customer retention is affected long after your event). If your goal was building brand awareness, then press hits and social media mentions can be added to your metrics.
As for the KPIs, most B2C experiential marketers measure the success of their campaigns with metrics like attendance, foot traffic, engagement, leads, reach, etc. In B2B marketing, those metrics are not enough. B2B marketers need analytics and reporting tools that measure which combination of content/messaging and partners/sources are contributing to their sales pipeline. The KPIs that matter in B2B mobile roadshow events include pipeline growth, footprint attendance, guest feedback, samples distributed, face-to-face engagements, vehicle impressions, as well as stage velocity, average deal size or contract value, and customer lifetime value.
Train your tour staff (Brand Ambassadors) to understand what KPIs they should track and why, equip them with the right tools, and you and your team will be able to make adjustments along the way.
9. Plan your post-event communication
The days after your roadshow event are important for analyzing the data your tour team has collected. To keep the excitement and interest going, connect with your customers within 3-5 days after the event and get the next meeting set up on-site to convert the great experience you provided into a sale. Since you just created all sorts of excitement around your brand, now is the time to keep the momentum going and make sure you set up your next meeting before your customer heads back to her office.
One of Pro Motion‘s success stories involves planning a B2B mobile roadshow event for – a company that designs, builds, and services the equipment required for communication networks, data centers, and industrial and commercial facilities). In the event truck, the customers were able to look at the systems, engage with them (since they were interactive), and get a virtual reality experience of their data center. Immediately after seeing that, the customers wanted to know more about their products.
Vertiv got valuable feedback on what their customers were looking for in an ideal product. They also realized that being able to share the knowledge and message with people who are interested in their products is extremely valuable. With two trucks on tour, Vertiv made over 100 stops in 6 months and got the opportunity to build better relationships with clients and touch so many people with such a concentrated message.
Want to work directly with an accomplished experiential marketing agency with 25 years of experience in learning more about B2B Mobile Roadshows? Pro Motion is an industry leader in creating engaging, effective campaigns. Give us a call at 636.449.3162.
Learn More About Experiential Marketing from PMI President Steve Randazzo in his book Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters!