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B2B brands need to create long-lasting, valuable and authentic connections with dealers and distributors. I recently sat down with Virginia Strouphauer, Senior Art Director and Manager of Experience Design, to understand how live events and experiences can create a lasting impression.

Q: Let’s take it from the top. Why should B2B companies consider live events and experiences as part of their dealer and distributor engagement strategy?

A: A lot of what we’re seeing now with our clients is a desire to be disruptive. Live events and experiences present a unique opportunity for brands to do that. As marketers, we’re competing for people’s time and attention. And in today’s world, there is so much noise and clutter that we all have to wade through. It can be challenging to create an authentic, lasting connection if we’re trying to cram it into all the places and spaces everyone expects. And those spaces are crowded by the competition. Live events and experiences not only create the opportunity to be disruptive, but they also can create a launchpad for conversion and brand loyalty.

Q: What does the communication surrounding an event or live experience need to do?

A: We look at events as a full experience from the moment someone is invited to days after the event is over. What do all those touchpoints look like? How can we create a compelling, differentiated experience? And how can we measure it to make sure our clients are in a position to demonstrate the impact they’re being held accountable for? These are all the questions we’re challenging ourselves to answer. It’s important to lead the audience through that journey, and it begins with building excitement and anticipation. The events in and of themselves also create an opportunity for earned media activation and promotion across social or other owned platforms. The event can serve as the hub of that activation — creating the opportunity for follow-up and follow-through with the audience.

Q: How should brands think about leveraging technology or trends as part of events?

A: Don’t do it just to do it or to say we used this cool new thing. The audience can tell if it’s not authentic to a brand, and not only does that not advance your position with the audience, it pushes you further away from them. Again, it must be authentic and on-brand. There’s always going to be something fun trending that we can latch on to, but does it make sense for the brand and is it ownable? Most of the time the answer is no. And from a technology standpoint, there’s capability to do anything and everything we can dream up. Does what we’re trying to achieve make sense? Not always. That’s why technology and/or what’s trending should support the business and communication objectives we’re trying to achieve.

Q: What should brands do to create that disruptive experience as part of the event itself?

A: Don’t just tell or use it as a platform for one-way communication. People can read about a product launch at home or work. The purpose of a live event is to engage the audience in a multisensory experience and create the opportunity for them to create their own lasting impression. The moments that stand out will be different for everyone. That’s where the details come into play. Sight, sound, smell, taste — these are all areas where we can integrate details that create that connection with the audience.

Q: What advice would you give a B2B marketer planning their next event or live experience?

A: Listen to your audience. If you haven’t engaged your audience in a dialogue to understand their needs, start there. And don’t be afraid to be disruptive. Find ways to do the unexpected, but make sure it’s authentic to who you are as a brand. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes the best place to create that disruption is in the details.

Do you want to get disruptive at your next B2B event? Reach out at [email protected].


About Virginia Strouphauer, JPL Senior Art Director and Manager of Experience Design: Virginia tells brand stories through live experiences that engage attendees and inspire action. A master at crafting immersive attendee journeys, Virginia’s creative strategies activate business objectives and achieve communication goals.

About Kelly Seipe, JPL Head of Strategic Growth: Kelly evaluates clients’ businesses and identifies growth opportunities to deliver more value, ROI and strategic outcomes for them. She brings deep experience from her time serving as the account leader for many of JPL’s largest clients and over six years building the brands of manufacturers and marketers of building products in the B2B space.




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