Certain marketing initiatives take a lot more resources and capital than a single company can afford. This is especially the case with event marketing. Co-marketing presents a solution.
Obviously, having the right event software is one way to help you do more with less. As is pursuing an account-based even marketing strategy. But those aren't the only ways. With co-marketing (or partnership marketing) companies achieve bigger initiatives more easily by collaborating with other companies. Through this collaboration all the companies involved benefit from combined resources to achieve their respective goals.
An increasingly popular form of partnership marketing is partnered live events. According to Forrester research, 22% of all partner marketing campaigns are comprised of live events. When planned thoroughly and executed properly, partnered events can have a significantly larger impact than if an event were organized by one company, alone. The opportunity to share knowledge, increase brand awareness, and strengthen relationships within the industry are all part of executing a successful partnered event. But before diving into such a demanding endeavor, it’s important to take the necessary steps that will ensure a successful event.
Here are 20 tips on how to plan and organize a stellar partnered event.
1) Articulate why you need a partnered marketing event
Before even looking for a partner to join the event, honestly assess why you need a partner in the first place. How will a partnered marketing event help you achieve your goals as a company? Are you looking to increase brand awareness through a co-branded event? Are you hoping to expand your target demographic to a wider audience? The more specific and honest you are with these questions, the simpler it will be to find the right partner and have a successful event.
"Doing partner shows allows attendees to really understand the holistic platform so they can kind of paint their whole picture and it's a lot easier for them to walk away with actionable insights into how they can then go back to their company and implement this whole thing, versus just one component of it."
—Cari Goodrich, Senior Director of Globabl Marketing Programs, Looker
2) Explore preliminary co-marketing initiatives
Creating a large scale partner marketing event is a sizeable investment. Diving into such a project without prior experience working with the partner might be too much of a risk for both sides. To make sure this is the right partner to be working with, consider collaborating on smaller co-marketing initiatives that will help indicate whether you’ll have a successful working relationship. Some initiatives might be a co-authored eBook or a co-hosted webinar. The communication and teamwork that is displayed during these smaller projects can be an accurate indicator of how well everyone will work together on a larger initiative.
3) Screen potential partners with detailed questions
If you are fortunate enough to have multiple companies vying to be your event partner, don’t let the excitement distract you from the task at hand. To ensure a successful event, it is crucial that you choose a partner that shares the same vision for the event as well as the same goals. The best partnerships are the ones in which all parties can benefit. In order to find the perfect partner, make sure to ask detailed questions that will give you a good sense of why they want to partner with you, what their main goals are, and how they expect to contribute to the event.
"We usually try to get the best sponsors, so brands like Hubspot for example. We leverage them to get into media sites like TechCrunch, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, so on and so forth. So, number one, it is a brand awareness and a brand recognition tool."
—Gaetano Nino DiNardi, Director of Marketing, Sales Hacker
4) Schedule a kickoff meeting
This may sound obvious but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. Given that a partnered event has many moving parts, organizing a proper kickoff meeting may be a more difficult challenge than most would expect. Especially if there are many individuals from multiple companies involved in the process. However, make sure that an introductory meeting takes place with all necessary stakeholders. Ensuring that all members are present for this kickoff meeting will set the right tone for the rest of the planning process and make it more likely for everyone to do their fair share of the work.
5) Ensure that goals are aligned
Before diving into the details of the event planning, the very first piece of business should be to state the goals for all parties involved. In many instances the goals will be shared, such as collecting more leads or achieving brand awareness. The more alignment there is with goals, the more likely it is that all of the parties involved will benefit from the event.
6) Assure collective buy-in
A scenario you’ll definitely want to avoid one in which one company is very much engaged with the event and the other company never buys into the vision. Thus it is imperative to assure collective buy-in from all parties involved. Alignment on goals is the best way to ensure collective buy-in, as is laying out the vision for the event and making sure everyone is equally excited to put it all together. Be sure to get everyone’s buy-in from the very beginning to solidify a smooth planning process.
7) Clearly specify the roles for each partner
After the goals are established and buy-in is secured, it’s time to specify the roles of each partner. Who will be responsible for the social media campaign? What type of marketing collateral will be needed to execute these campaigns? On the day of the event, which company is responsible for registrations and check-ins? Of course, all of these tasks can be shared but it’s crucial that each task and role is described in detail. This way, there are clear expectations on both sides and it will be much easier to keep each member accountable for specific assignments.
8) Address any and all conflicts of interest
Whenever working with an outside business partner, there is always the potential for objectives to be misaligned. Yes, the potential upside of a successful partnership is always high, but if it is executed carelessly, a partnership can easily take a turn for the worst. That is why it is absolutely necessary to address any conflicts of interest during the very stages of the event planning process.
Perhaps your partner is looking to target a specific lead that you were also hoping to bring in? Or maybe you were both looking to address the same keynote topic but there is only time for one presentation? Make sure that all individuals during the kickoff meeting are honest and transparent about their needs so that conflicts of interest can be avoided to ensure an all around successful event.
9) Play to each other’s strengths
One of the major reasons companies come together for co-marketing partnerships is so that each of them is able to reach an objective that they otherwise could not have achieved on their own. If your partner has a large social media following, let them take the lead with social media campaigns. If your company has had more success with content marketing strategies, make sure to take the lead on content strategy leading up to the event. Be honest and upfront with each other’s strengths so that each partner can add maximum value to the event.
"All of your event’s formal stakeholders (sponsors, presenters, and vendor partners) should be given graphics, suggested social media copy, and links to help ensure this endeavor they are contributing to is successful. Determine who is the most influential to your potential attendees and incentivize them to promote for you as well."
—Nick Borelli, President and Strategist, Borelli Strategies
10) Crystallize communication
Undertaking an endeavor as large as this will require impeccable communication. Make sure to establish several points of contact on both teams to ensure that everyone is aligned on how certain updates will be communicated. Collectively agree on a main form of communication, whether that be a business messaging platform like Slack, or a more traditional format like email. Once those guidelines are all set, it is always worthwhile to get to know the team that you’ll be working so closely with. Think of creative ways to build team chemistry and camaraderie so that a solid rapport is built before the heavy lifting of event planning takes place. By establishing strong relationships from the get-go, you build a team that does not want to let each other down and thus ensures quality results from all individuals.
11) Define clear expectations
Similar to defining roles, setting clear expectations is another way to ensure that everyone stays accountable for their responsibilities. Clearly define what is expected of both parties in terms of metrics, KPI’s, tasks, and roles. However these make sense in the context of your partnered event, just be sure that all expectations are communicated to both sides and that all are in alignment.
12) Establish timeline of goals and deadlines
With so many moving parts and need to adapt to changing needs, it is not enough to simply divide the tasks evenly and assign to-do lists. Come together to create a detailed and thorough timeline of objectives so that everyone is aligned and aware of when they need to complete their assigned tasks. Make sure to update the timeline according to changes that occur during the planning process.
13) Ensure audience alignment
It is very possible that your partner’s audience is not completely the same as your own. In the case that this is intentional and you are looking to expand your company’s audience demographic, this is ideal. However, if you feel that your partner will be bringing in an audience that is completely irrelevant to your company’s product or service, make sure you are both aware of this. A partnered event is most successful when all of the attendees are able to gain value from the event. Make sure that your partner’s audience will be able to benefit from your offerings as well.
14) Set parameters on how to collect leads
If a shared objective between you and your partner are to collect sales leads, it is important to set clear parameters on how lead retrieval will be done. Will both of you be collecting and reaching out to the same leads? Should leads be divided and categorized by specific factors? Be sure to come to an agreement on how to gather and share these leads to make sure there is no conflict down the road.
Pro-tip: One useful way to divy up leads is to use a Google Spreadsheet that both you and your partners have access to. By integrating your Spreadsheet with your marketing automation platform with the help of an integration solution like Zapier.
15) Collaborate on co-presentations
Besides working together on the planning of the event, it is always great to find opportunities within the event agenda to have co-presentations with your partner. This is a great way to show your audience that the event was very much a team effort and that both companies are incredibly excited about the partnership. Co-presentations provide great energy to the attendees by setting a tone of collaboration and teamwork for the duration of the event.
16) Organize joint social media campaigns
In addition to the many marketing campaigns that will be dedicated to promoting the event, try to get creative with your partner in terms of social media campaigns. Since social media is an ideal platform to present your brand voice, use this as an opportunity to engage with your partner’s brand in a public forum. Whether that be replying to one another on Twitter or sharing the same content on Instagram, think of ways to creatively come together in the social media universe.
"As long as you are not overlapping in dates and topics, partnering up with other conferences is a great way to amplify your event marketing efforts. This lends itself to cross promotion on-site, in newsletters, and on social media."
—Alon Alroy, CMO and Co-founder, Bizzabo
For more social media tips check out Event Marketing Wisdom from 12 Social Media Experts.
17) Agree on the personnel that will be present on event day
After all of the planning is set and organizing is finalized, the day of the event has finally arrived. To ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible, members from both companies should be on-site to help with operational components of the event. This ensures a feeling of mutual accountability and shared success once the event comes to a close. After all of the hard work of co-organizing, it will be rewarding to work side by side with your partner on event day.
18) Explore online event partnerships
Keep in mind that event partnerships do not only entail live events. Co-hosted webinars and live streams are also great event formats that can work well as a partnership. Collaborating on an online event would be ideal for partners who are a great fit for one another but are located in different countries. In such cases, instead of letting go of a great opportunity, come together for a co-hosted online event and brainstorm ways to make it as impactful as possible.
Sales Hacker frequently makes use of co-hosted webinars to expand their reach.
19) Make sure all objectives are measurable and uniform
When working with a partner company, it can be easy to lose track of what should be measured and which event succes KPI’s should be focused on. Well before the start of the event, make sure that all key objectives can be properly measured. This will ensure that after the event is over, both you and the partner can clearly see how the event was successful and in what ways it could have been better. Having measurable results is crucial in understanding the reasons behind event success.
20) Close with a thorough and honest feedback session
Once the event is over, it’s time for a detailed and honest feedback session. Debriefing the event planning process, the marketing campaigns, and the event itself will be super helpful in understanding how successful the partnership was and if it is worth doing again in the future. A post-event debrief will also help you better understand areas of improvement and how future partnered events can be even more impactful.
From increased event ROI to boosted attendance, Co-marketing is a lucrative way to get more mileage out of your events at a fraction of the investment.
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