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How To Use ABM To Improve Your Event Marketing Efforts

Do you have a blog?

Do you run paid ads?

Does your company use social media?

With the explosion of the internet, we’ve started to lean on digital marketing tactics to attract and convert leads. However, in today’s saturated digital environment, buyers are tuning out these inorganic, unpersonalized marketing tactics.

For decades, trade shows and industry events were the primary way for sellers and marketers to share products and educate consumers. Face-to-face experiential marketing dazzled potential customers and provided an excellent opportunity for sellers to connect with their buyers in person.

Just as video killed the radio star, digital marketing killed the handshake. But with 70% of B2B marketers now taking account-based marketing seriously, will events, trade shows and roadshows make a come back?

We think so. And account-based events will be the future.

What are account-based events?

Account-based events are conferences, trade shows, awards shows or other professional events you attend with the intention of interacting with and securing certain accounts that you’ve targeted beforehand.

With traditional event marketing, hosts and sponsors take the big-and-flashy approach to lure in anything with a pulse and a bank account. In contrast, when you focus on utilizing ABM in your event strategy, you are interested in connecting only with specific accounts.

Traditional event marketing KPIs include

  • Overall foot traffic
  • Number of leads generated
  • Number of badge scans
  • Total registration

Marketers who utilize ABM in event marketing instead focus on nurturing relationships, closing deals and generating revenue. They’ve progressed from simply having a booth to creating an experience for their list of target accounts.

How to use ABM in experiential marketing

ABM gives direction to your experiential marketing. Not only do you have invaluable information about your accounts, but you can use this information to craft experiences that speak to prospective accounts’ needs and streamline the whole courting process.

It starts with identifying the best events to attend based on where your prospects will be, including the tentpole events we all know and love (/hate). From there, it’s about filling in the gaps with roadshows and one-to-one meetings to make sure you have in-person connections with every top account.

But how do you actually bring home the bacon when it comes to using ABM to tailor your in-person experiential marketing efforts?

Guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Big box trade shows

Just like big box retailers, big box trade shows have come to dominate the conversation around event marketing. Tentpole events like CES, Cannes Lions and Dreamforce cost tens, if not hundreds, of thousands for a company to attend but leave a lot on the table in terms of trackable ROI.

The smartest teams understand that simply having a booth or sponsoring a party isn’t enough.

They attack events with an account-based focus so they can schedule coffee and dinners with the best prospects. The best sales and marketing teams don’t forget about their current customers either and make sure to shake their hands at these large events as well.

Big box trade shows make you feel like it’s all about quantity, but the name of the ABM game is still quality. Shake the right hands by taking an ABM approach to these types of events.


Hosting your own events will help your company establish credibility while creating opportunities to organize circumstances in your favor.

But hosting is only half the battle. In fact, your setup is the most important factor in displaying your company as the innovative, top-tier company in your industry.

When choosing a location for a roadshow, consider convenience and any barriers to attendance first. These may include other similar events around the same time, travel options and cost. All roadshow locations should be focused near where your target accounts are located.

To provide a premium experience, especially to those target accounts, you can go above and beyond by removing any barriers to attendance. For example, offer transportation, catering, lodging and post-event entertainment.

Make sure you reach out one-to-one to convert those high-value accounts to attendees at the show. Roadshows also make it incredibly easy to gauge the success of your ABM approach because you know your number one goal is to get nearby accounts to attend the event.


One-to-one meetings

The handshake is far from dead – especially when you’re selling high value products and services.

If you have an opportunity to meet the buying committee in person, take it. If you’re in the same city as your prospect and you don’t offer an in-person meeting to begin with, you’re missing out big time. These one-to-one meetings, often between high-level executives, seem to be overlooked when talking about creating experiences.

Every handshake is an experience—just ask those who have shaken Donald Trump’s hand.

Take the time to shape one-to-one meetings into account-based experiences by

  • Understanding the type of presentation the prospect wants (deck, live demo, just a conversation)
  • Bringing a personalized gift (could be as simple as a warm coffee when it’s chilly or as personalized as their favorite chocolate)
  • Taking the right personalities to the meeting (if you know they like an aggressive seller, take your hardest hitter)
  • Designing the space (if they’re coming to your office, you can display their logo on the screen, etc.)

If you can’t seem to close a certain account, going the extra mile(s) and meeting the buying committee in person may be exactly what you need. So whether you’re going to them or they’re coming to you, take the time to make one-to-one meetings another personalized brand experience.

ABM for event marketing: it’s the way to go

For the love of all things account-based marketing, please don’t attend or host another event without thinking about how to personally reach your list of target accounts.

Accounts are made of people, and in-person meetings are a perfect opportunity to really connect with the individual.

So how will your team utilize ABM in your event efforts?

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