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The increasing importance of learning experiences at B2B events

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Events are catering to larger audiences by the year. Marketing has evolved with the advent of the digital experience, and events have become increasingly transactional in nature. Keynotes and lectures have become monologues between speakers and audiences. And in exchange for their ideas, audiences pay them large sums of money.

Companies are fast realizing the importance of personalization and this has further gained relevance at events. In order to bridge the gap between sensory experiences and educating audiences about the product, there has been a shift from the concepts of mass-personalization and sensory stimuli to getting audiences involved in an active learning experience.

Going beyond sensory engagement

Large eye catching displays, branded merchandise, and graphics have become characteristic of the sensory experience. These elements are novelty seekers and are only meant to entertain attendees. But creating relevant conversations and educating audiences are objectives that need to be addressed. This has made it crucial for event marketers to go beyond the present method of message delivery at B2B events.

Close to 87% of attendees feel that learning experiences are linked to buying decisions. With this in mind, marketers have started taking a serious look at creating learning modules that help reach out to attendees, educate them on the product, and change attitudes towards buying the product. These learning experiences not only involve attendee participation but encourage a progression between modules that lure them into the sales process.

Integrating learning experiences into the event roadmap

It is integral for event marketers to identify aspects of the product or service that need to be highlighted. Once these aspects are thrown into light, it becomes easier to link them with high-level engagement activities that can be incorporated into the event roadmap. But these experiences need to be completely unique, in the sense that customers that have had similar experiences tend to confuse or forget about them.

Most importantly, these activities need to follow a dialogical model of message delivery. Encouraging participants to get involved in a dialogue can go a long way in helping them understand their own pain points, exchange insightful information, and bridge the gap between their needs and product capabilities.

Most models of learning are based on the speaker’s inherent biases towards the product and the topic of discussion. These generalizations can greatly hinder how attendees understand the message and what they take back. Therefore, it is important for presenters to set aside their beliefs and focus on how their formats are perceived by their audiences. This way, attendees confer to a common learning model. Additionally, it becomes easier to break down barriers that attendees may face during the consideration phase of the sales cycle.

Related: Reinventing session formats for better B2B event engagement

Given below, are four methods to create a synapse between session formats and learning experiences:

Smaller sessions: As opposed to addressing bigger audiences, a mini-session that lasts between 25 to 40 minutes involving a 20 member audience can help increase interactivity. This further helps speakers create relevant conversations and facilitate a personal understanding of the product.

Involving SMEs: At events, an SME’s time is valuable. To get a more in-depth understanding of the product, it is imperative that sessions have the right people present. By reeling in SMEs, learning sessions become more productive and attendees are able to address concerns of a technical nature.

Open-door meetings: These meetings encourage participants to talk about the work they do and the challenges they face within the scope of the topic being discussed. Moreover, this type of meeting format helps attendees become aware of challenges that they might not know about.

Peer sharing: These sessions are collaborative in nature. They create a common platform for peers to contribute to the bigger narrative and create contexts and parallels to the topics being discussed.

In the current scenario, customers are often not informed of certain problems in the business model and the solutions to them. The learning experience not only educates customers on these problems and solutions but helps them gain an in-depth understanding of why these problems need to be addressed. These experiences do more than take away from tactile stimuli but challenge customer attitudes, break status quo and help bridge the gap between business challenges and product capabilities.