Business-to-business (often abbreviated "B2B") is a marketing strategy that involves transactions of goods and services between companies. The relationship between a company and its suppliers is usually called a B2B relationship. This can be compared with other business relationships, such as that between the company and the final consumer. This relationship is known as Business-to-consumer (B2C). These are the two most common relationships in the business world. As the employer brand becomes increasingly important for recruiting the right staff, the term Business to Employee (B2E) has also begun to be used. It concerns the relationship between a company and its employees.
In the last few years, in the age of social media, attention has increasingly been drawn to another important relationship in the business world. It is a relationship called Consumer-to-business, the consumer's relationship to the company. It is about the individual consumers' ability to create value for the company. This is done by consumers writing reviews about products, by them saying good things about the company social media, and so on. It has become increasingly important for companies to have a strategy for how consumers should feel or think about the company.
This dogma has doubtless been hammered into company managers' heads thousands of times by now: It is much easier, cheaper and more profitable to succeed in keeping a customer than to try and get a new one. This bears repeating, and a sign should be put up at every staff entrance so that no one, and I mean no one at the company forgets it. Look after your existing customers, regardless of how small and insignificant they may be!
The most common reason for losing a customer is that they were shown too little attention. Arranging an event at regular intervals can be a way to maintain good relations and to show your appreciation. Since you're throwing a party - make sure to invite any potential customers, as well. They will see how well looked after they will be when they eventually become customers. Events for these groups can be, for example, travel, trade fairs, product launches or a simple mix and mingle.
Here's some advice to think about before you hold your event with B2B people.
How do I know how many people will come?
You don't know. You may have sent out an invitation via a digital newsletter to your business relationships. Let's say, to keep it simple, that it went to 100 people. You see that 45% of these have accepted the invitation. Does this mean that there will be 45 people coming? No, that figure is rarely correct.
For an event that is free (as, of course, an event of this kind must be), those invited may not respect the invitation in the same way as if it had cost money. Some will say yes to the invitation, but not turn up up. Others will turn up although they didn't accept or decline the invitation, or even explicitly said no. Some will perhaps bring friends who haven't been invited.
Well, it's up to you to decide how flexible you will be with the invitations, but remember not to be too brusque when the uninvited guests show up at the door.
How long should the event last?
You can attach a programme with schedule and times to your invitation when you send it out. Make sure to then keep to the timetable. Particularly with regard to the main points. And perhaps even more importantly - for the time the food will be served. More about that below.
Remember one important thing - you may think that you are doing something for your customers that they should think is fun, exciting and purely recreational. But most of those who sign up for an event may not see it that way. For many people, going to an event is work. Many of your partners or customers might attend events several times a month, not for the fun of it, but because they have to. They might much rather spend the time at home with their family, for example. Therefore, take a humble approach to the invited guests and respect their unstated requirements that times are kept and that they want to be kept fed and watered.
Food and drink - is it important?
For some guests, the food is the most important part of an event. It might even be that some people only signed up for the event because there was free food and drink on offer. Perhaps this is even more the case if the drinks are alcoholic. If you think about it, you may have friends or acquaintances that reason this way. Hand on heart - haven't you ever thought that way yourself?
This can't be emphasised enough: If you have promised your guests food and drink - don't make them wait too long for it. A well-fed customer is a happy customer. A customer with a glass of wine or two in their stomach is an even happier customer. A customer that is too drunk can, however, be a disaster.
Therefore, make sure the food is served on time and that you keep an eye on how the drinks are served. Of course, you should always offer non-alcoholic options. And not just plain tap water. Offer some type of non-alcoholic drink that feels lavish and grand. Many people take their car to business events.
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Be flexible to change
We described earlier how you can never be totally sure how many will people will turn up to your event. Perhaps only a fraction of all those invited will come. Or, on the contrary, perhaps twice as many as you invited will come.
Whatever the case, be prepared for the worst. For example, if you want to make a speech to your attendees, the actual tone of the speech may vary depending on how many people are listening. If only five people come to your event, it may not be necessary to stand on a podium or connect up the microphone to the speaker system. It might then be better if everyone sits around a table and you stand next to it. Or perhaps that everyone remains standing during the speech.
If, on the other hand, many more people turn up than you had expected, it may be appropriate to have planned for a larger reception hall. If you have the opportunity, you can book a larger room at your workplace. Otherwise, you can call in advance and hear what premises can be booked at short notice if required.
The speech itself may also need to be rewritten. A speech made to five people can seem pompous if it was written to be delivered to a whole nation. (Well, that's an extreme example, but the principle is the same).
You might, therefore, prepare for a couple of different speeches, depending on how the atmosphere feels and how many people come.
The same applies to the food and drink. You should always order more food than you think will be needed. This is to avoid the irritation that arises when the food runs out. But, if an incredibly large number of people turn up, you should at least consider how you would handle the situation. Is there a pizza restaurant nearby where you can quickly get food to satisfy even the uninvited guests? It might be a makeshift solution, but you will at least be showing good will.
Help your customer feel comfortable with their choice
It's not always easy for the invitee to decide if he or she should go to an event. It may be that this is dependent on what others think or decide. Perhaps the invitee has to ask their manager for permission to go to the event. Perhaps the invitee has to ask their spouse for permission.
You simplify this decision considerably if you also invite the manager or the spouse of the invitee. The invitee then avoids having to make the decision themselves. In addition, you will have a bigger chance of influencing the person that really makes the decisions.
Pay attention to all your attendees
It must be admitted, this isn't easy. Especially in the situation you find yourself in. You are probably stressed, nervous and very focused on making sure everything runs smoothly during your event. It's easy to get tunnel vision in such a situation. When you feel stressed, you can easily be perceived as arrogant or inattentive, although you are trying to do everything you can to avoid giving this impression.
But despite this, try to unwind when you are hosting an event. Take it easy. Breathe. Try to speak calmly and in a dignified manner to all of your attendees. Look them in the eye. Make them feel noticed and welcomed. Try to give everyone a little bit of attention.
Visit other events to learn more
As mentioned before, it isn't always easy to have a successful event if you're not used to them. The social interaction during the course of an event is probably the most difficult thing to get one hundred percent right. But every time you arrange an event, you will learn from your mistakes.
A very good way to learn how to behave at an event is to attend other events. Take any chance you get to go to the events you are invited to. It's an extremely good opportunity for you to study the secrets of what makes a perfect event.
What part of the event felt especially "magical"? What made the speech so good? Did the décor give rise to a special feeling? How did the hosts treat their visitors? All of this can be put in a notebook.
And the more you learn, the more you realise that no event is perfect. You will constantly discover things that can be improved and redone. And you will have this knowledge with you when you are going to put on your own event.
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