Relationship marketing plays an important and under-appreciated role in the B2B marketing mix. It is the job of the B2B marketer to move the potential buyer from brand/product awareness, to investigation, to purchase, and ultimately to an interactive, long-term relationship. The relationship aspect of this continuum is key in B2B. Consumer marketers make a lot of noise about creating communities of customers. B2B marketers, in a smaller universe, must quietly live and die by these relationships.
Conferences and events have traditionally served as the place where relationship are cultivated and harvested. As an event producer, I’ve seen a lot of neglect paid to this important tradition, by both event producers and business marketers. The strategy for event producers has been a big tent approach—create the largest gathering possible, and leave interaction to the participants. Too many event producers treat their business like a transient mall. They rent space and collect fees for a limited range of services. They recruit speakers, print badges. That’s not enough any more. Event producers must develop new tools that help business marketers create or leverage their customer communities.
Relationship marketing is fragmenting and fluxuating. Once limited to meetings and sales calls, business relationships are now cultivated through webcasting, user groups, social media, blogs, chat boards, traditional trade shows and conferences, inside and outside sales calls, informal meetups, custom/corporate events, product announcements, virtual events, and hybrid events.
This weblog will look at people, organizations, technologies and trends that will move event media forward and create new industry memes. Traditional marketing is built on the four “p’s: Product, Price, Promotion, Placement. Web marketers have proposed a lot of new “p’s”: Personalization, Participation, Peer networking. I’m going to roll them all up under the rubric of market “Presence.”