How to get the most out of learning and development events

Are you responsible for sales or marketing for a learning technology or training provider?
Here's our guide on how to get the most out of L&D events:

When digital marketing tactics seem to dominate conversations about marketing effectiveness, there's one very traditional marketing tactic that shouldn't be forgotten. With in-person events very much back on the agenda, they should be high on most L&D marketers' minds. Whether you're responsible for learning technology or training services, there are plenty of L&D events to consider. So, where to start?

Awards smallerStart with your objectives. These may be getting your brand noticed. It might be positioning a colleague as a thought leader. It might be lead generation. It may be a combination of these and others. So consider your marketing objectives when planning events. There is now a mixture of virtual, blended and physical events (check out our guide). All have advantages and disadvantages. Here are actions to consider:
 
Marketing planning
 
An annual marketing plan can be a good time to review previous event activities, assess new ones, and then be clear about what your objectives should be for events generally, and also for specific events.
 
Speaking to various stakeholders is vital, especially sales and other participants at previous events. Ask searching questions about what they got out of previous events attended. This can be more instructive than the conversations you have with event organisers. Great salespeople are likely to make the most of networking opportunities, so consider the extent to which an event booth will help or not. Sponsorship decisions should be driven by value rather than vanity. Presentation slots are likely to be paid for but can be valuable in demonstrating subject matter expertise, or simply in demonstrating your learning technology.Exhibition_stand_5.jpg
 
Pre-event
 
Make sure you have a detailed plan for each event. A 9-month plan with keys dates such as objective setting, activity identification, stand design, presentation preparation, marketing collateral and data collection will help make your participation successful. Make sure you've planned a reason to see a presentation, visit a booth or attend your event bash.
 
Provide at least basic training to any booth staff. Use social media to promote your participation using the event organiser's hashtag. If you have a booth, hiring a good designer is essential months before the event depending on the size and scale of your booth. Consider who needs to be at your booth. Your salespeople may feel their time is best spent networking with prospects, and product people may be valuable if demonstrating any system you might be promoting. 
 
Conference imageDuring the event
 
If you have a booth you'll ensure a rota is in place to ensure it's manned. Be sure to check out competitors. And make the most of social media opportunities - photos with clients, photos of your booths, and photos of presentations all tend to get good engagement, especially with the event hashtag., and remind people where you are and what you are doing. 
 
After the event
Make sure you are able to retrieve any data sets quickly so you can send follow-up communications. Monitor and measure lead nurturing and write up a report which can be reviewed for the next marketing plan.
 
Want to discuss your marketing plan and how it includes events? Drop us a line!
Wondering which L&D events you should be considering? Check out our guide to L&D events, with information on Learning Technologies. LEARNING LIVE and many others being held in the next 12 months.

The events guide for learning marketers

 The Achieve B2B Marketing Guide to L&D Events

Event  Date       Venue   Hashtag
Learning Technologies 4-5 May 2022 ExCeL London

#LT22

The Training and Development Summit 16-17 May 2022 Whittlebury Park, Northampton #TrainingSummit
CIPD Festival of Work 15-16 June 2022 Olympia, London #FestivalofWork
12th Learning & Development World Congress 4-8 July 2022 Online  
LEARNING LIVE 14-15 September 2022 London #LEARNINGLIVE
World of Learning 11-12 October NEC Birmingham  
OEB Conference 23-25 November 2022 Berlin #OEB22

 

Are you an organiser of events for the learning community?

Use the contact us form if you'd like your event included or to let us know of any updates. This is provided on an information-only basis. Please check the event organiser's website for the most up-to-date information.

Are you a marketer for a training company or learning technology?

Check out our article to get the most out of L&D events. And do contact us if you'd like to discuss how to get the most out of your event attendance.

How to grow your training business in 2022

Having commercial responsibility for training services in 2022 is fraught with challenges and brimming with opportunities. After two difficult years, you may feel like you're just coming up for air. But catch your breath and you'll see a landscape forever changed and with it a very interesting environment in which your ability to adapt will be key to thriving in the digital twenties.

So how can you pivot to make the most of this year and beyond? A great place to start is to download our free guide to growing your learning business. We've written it to empower you with seventeen ways to build your business. From creating content marketing that delivers leads to ensuring your events participation hits targets, the guide is highly practical and instantly actionable. Download it today!

 

How to win a marketing award

Doug Marshall, MD of Achieve B2B Marketing, has judged many marketing awards over the last decade Here he shares his experience and gives you some insights into an award-winning entry's key ingredients.

 

 

Winning an award can be a real boost. It’s a great feeling to know that industry experts recognise your achievements. Winning is something that can be shared both internally and externally to boost the prestige of your organisation. It’s also something that can help with your career advancement. 

But gathering the right information, completing the necessary forms, and getting internal approvals can take time and resources. So when you enter an award, you’ll want to enhance your chances of actually winning! I’ve been a judge for a number of awards, including the B2B Marketing Awards and WARC Awards for Effectiveness. I’ve reviewed many entries and viewed online and face to face presentations from entrants, so I’ve seen which entries stand out.

So how you can be in with a chance of winning? Most of the awards I’ve judged have been in B2B marketing. These suggestions are particularly useful for awards in that sector, but the suggestions here are relevant for most B2B awards entries generally:

Plan your entry

Often, entrants can find guidance from organisers on how and when to complete their entry. If you can, find out how the scoring system will work so you can prepare your entry accordingly. And be honest with yourself before deciding to enter: is what you've achieved so successful that it could potentially be award-winning? If your answer is yes and you decide to enter, give yourself time to talk through your results with colleagues and do multiple edits before you submit your entry.  

Provide context in your entry

What was the situation that required a solution? Providing context and background to your entry will help judges understand why your solution was important. Was there any research you conducted that yielded interesting iAwards 2nsights? Showing you understood real-world solutions with the research of end-users will help you build a good case.

List your objectives

Stating SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) objectives) shows judges what you were setting out to achieve. 

Describe your strategy

What strategy did you adopt to achieve your objectives, and why did you choose certain tactics and channels? Displaying creativity, bravery, innovation and originality in your strategy and tactics will catch judges’ eyes. They’re looking for something successful, but also something extraordinary. 

Demonstrate results

Judges will want to see measurements of success. So clearly set out how you achieved your objectives, and what the results were. Numbers matter! Think about what judges need to know to score your entry highly, and include information accordingly.

Write a story

Entries are judged by humans. By the time they’ve reached the 17th entry, which happens to be yours, and they're eying whether to open that bottle of wine, you’ll need to grab their attention. Telling a story with an interesting arc is likely to keep their attention more than something that’s dry and uninteresting. Write in language that judges will understand, so take out acronyms and jargon that could confuse them. Don’t overload judges with unnecessary information.

Tell them what you learnt

Specifying what you discovered along the way will endear your entry to some judges; after all, they’ll want to learn something too. 

Include materials

Include visuals and other relevant documents to help your cause. But don’t rely on them! Technical issues may prevent them from being viewed, or they might simply be overlooked by judges.

If you’d like to chat about how to win an award, do drop me a line. Or if you'd simply like to discuss how to better market your training or information service, drop me a line on our contacts page.

 

How to plan content marketing for training and edtech

Doug MarshallAchieve B2B MD Doug Marshall explains how to create a content marketing programme that will be valued by your buyers.

Imagine you’re a buyer of learning services or technology. You've got a big decision to make. It could affect your company’s success and your career too.

So well before you speak to anyone in sales you’ll want to do your research. There's probably one thing on your mind: Trust.

If you have commercial responsibilities in a company providing training, digital learning or edtech, your brand and people will need the trust of buyers. So how can your learning brand build trust?  A clue lies in this Gartner prediction:

Eighty per cent of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025.

Relevant, informative, and educational content plays an important role in building this trust. Great content marketing can be transformational for brand reputation and lead conversions. I've led marketing strategy for many learning brands, and I've seen how good content marketing builds trust and generates leads. 

Here are four considerations when putting together a content marketing programme for training, elearning, and edtech services.

Prepare learning content that your audience will share on social media

Make your content so interesting and insightful that it will be shared on social media, using relevant hashtags and handles.

Your audience is more likely to engage with real people than your corporate social media account. Also, your content will much more likely be shared when it answers customers’ questions. So for both of these reasons involve customer-facing colleagues when choosing subjects. What's going to interest prospects and customers? What will resonate so much they'll want to share with their peers?

Involving colleagues in content marketing will help ensure they share content - so keep colleagues informed of what content is being published with a marketing calendar that you proactively promote. If you're an admin for your LinkedIn page there's a nice feature that enables you to 'Notify Employees' which sends a message to colleagues. So keep in mind both your colleagues, who can post and share your content and customers who will engage with it. 

Optimise your learning content marketing

Google logoYou’ll want to make sure that your content has a positive impact on your website’s overall SEO. To do this create content using targeted keywords to attract visitors to your website, although be careful not to overuse them as this can be offputting for readers. There are many tools to determine which keywords to target. Here are three which I've found helpful
Semrush features a tool that tells how many searches are made on relevant keywords.

Ask the public collates, tracks and alerts you to the questions being asked on Google.

Moz includes tools to help you identify the difficulty of getting your search term to the top of SERPs.

Consider how you can get valuable inbound links from trusted external websites. One way to do this is to research and identify relevant websites that would feature your content, and in doing so provide a backlink to yours.

Many CMSs have SEO plug-ins to help you optimise pages. I like the Yoast SEO tool for WordPress and Joomla sites that I manage, as it proactively guides me to complete tags. As well as populating meta tags Include a meta description for your page. Although it doesn’t affect Google’s algorithms it will appear in many search results, prompting readers to click through to your content.

Make sure content marketing for learning brands is useful

Create content that will really help your prospect. Ask some customers what content is going to really help them in their job. Don’t restrict yourself to the usual types of content. The most useful content can simply be a checklist. Someone I knew built their lead generation on offering really useful templated contracts. Providing a glossary can be extremely helpful to people new to an industry, (they’re great for SEO too).

Also, consider your customers’ customers. What would your customers like to know about their customers? What invaluable insights could you bring? Surveys of customers’ customers are highly useful. Content about future trends has been shown to be valued by C-suite audiences.

Identify how to make content marketing purposeful

When planning content, consider its purpose. Ask what the end result is. To do this consider the business conversations your company needs to have with prospects to win specific work. This can guide you on the subject, media, channel, and audience that will have the most impact.

Soup stands for shareable, optimised, useful and purposefulPublish content for each stage of decision-making. Think about what actions you’d like prospects to take and design a CTA around that. Infographics and short videos are going to be more relevant for awareness activity. Webinars and thought leadership documents are likely to be more relevant later once your prospects trust you with their contact details.

From writing a blog to editing a video, organising a webinar to creating a guide, content marketing takes time and resources. It’s therefore important to do content marketing well so you get a good return on your time and money.

Remember these key elements of good content marketing - keep it shareable, optimised, useful and purposeful, or SOUP for short. Your colleagues in sales will be thankful that you’ve built trust in your brand and people - and so will that L&D buyer.

If you'd like a free consultation on how to improve content marketing for your learning brand drop us a line or give us a call, we'd love to hear from you!

Dos and Don'ts of Marketing Technology

How can you maximise the effectiveness of marketing technology? My experience tells me it’s by hiring and developing the right people:

Here are some dos and don'ts from my time as both an agency and in-house marketer.

DO

✅ Enable specialists to use the same technology frequently. I've seen how the more involved and invested marketers are in using specific technology, the more enthusiastic and inventive they become in using it.

✅ When budgeting for technology, factor in partnerships. Vendors seldomly provide sufficient support and more complex technologies will require roll-out partners.

✅ Test how intuitive the technology is for easier adoption. Ask potential users to do this so they buy in to the testing process.

shutterstock 718346401 5✅ Work with vendors who have a proven track record of helping users. Be sure of the support and training they provide and the quality of online tutorials. That means asking their customers searching questions

DON'T

❌ Invest heavily in technology and then lightly on the people to make it work.

❌ Overinvest in bells and whistles. It makes adoption harder and can be a waste of money. For some of my SME clients, Mailchimp is a perfectly good solution for email marketing alone, whereas for others, rolling out Hubspot and Marketo has been more appropriate.

Martech is one of many B2B Marketing subjects I discuss with Peter Sumption in episode 153 of his excellent Marketing Study Lab Podcast. We also discuss the importance of talking to customers, the differences between B2C and B2B marketing. Check out the podcast on Spotify and all other good podcast providers.

Doug Marshall portrait 1  Doug Marshall

  Achieve B2B Marketing

Five actions to improve your B2B marketing in 2021

Meet some customers

A previous boss once included this in my annual plan. What a great idea! It forced me out of the office to have conversations with real customers. I learned loads. such as why some customers wouldn't adopt eLearning. The answer - because their perception of elearning was watching someone staring at a camera, talking for an hour. In a business selling training services, that kind of feedback was invaluable. Telling real-life customer stories always gives marketers better credibility with client-facing colleagues and can lead to more meaningful internal conversations. So hop on Zoom and start some conversations with customers.

Make a plan 

You may be thinking ‘We don’t do annual plans anymore, we don’t know what we’re doing in 12 days, let alone 12 months.' Long term planning in the middle of a pandemic might seem especially challenging, even irrelevant right now. But targets don't disappear, and you'll still need to explain your forecast for next year’s budget. So use the opportunity of a long term plan to take a step back from your business. As Rory Sutherland says in his book 'Alchemy': ask yourself some ‘apparently fatuous’ questions. Like ‘why are we in this business?’ Check if your value proposition still stacks up. Scrutinise your right to win in your market. Find out if you have the right skills. I’m a big fan of working in an agile way as well, but you don't have to choose between the two. 

Ask this question

A great question to ask yourself and colleagues is ‘so what?’ You’ve got 50,000 Twitter followers, so what? You had 700 people attend your webinar, so what? Say it nicely so it doesn’t sound rude. But after a while, your colleagues will get the hint. So what? It means, how is this helping the business, how is it getting us to forecast, how is it building customer loyalty? So for example, next time you hold a webinar make sure there’s a plan for before, during, and after it. What’s the hook in the webinar that will make a conversion? Maybe it’s a workshop that leads to a sales call. Think CTA and keep asking so what? until you really understand how tactics will lead to the company achieving its goals.

Use SOUP for content

Content marketing is an essential tactic in B2B marketing, but it needs to be well-planned. I've devised 'SOUP' to remember four key rules for content marketing. Soup stands for

  • Shareable - make your content so useful that prospects will want to share it on social media.
  • Optimised -  make sure users can find it in Google (but without the keyword stuffing)
  • Useful - create content that will really help your prospect. 
  • Purposeful - what’s the next step for the user, is there a CTA?

Be aligned with your sales team

Win yourself fans in your sales team by doing some research on social selling and share what you've learned. Some salespeople may feel unprepared for the world of LinkedIn engagements and Twitter lists. So if they need some help, show them their SSI score. Then, suggest a chat to identify prospects, develop rapport, and build a pipeline on social media in a way that colleagues feel comfortable and get value. Want to know more about social selling? Drop us a line on our Contacts Page and we'll describe how to build a social selling programme in your business. 

Doug Marshall portrait 1Doug Marshall
Achieve B2B Marketing

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Want to talk about your challenges with B2B marketing?

Achieving success often starts with great questions

At Achieve B2B Marketing we’ll ask you where you want to get to and discover the best way to get there. Book an appointment with Achieve B2B Marketing today.

Call: 07961 127655

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