Six Reasons to Host a Live Round Table Event

PropelGrowth Blog - Financial Services Marketing and Content Strategy

Strategic tips on leveraging live round table events to boost financial services sales and marketing effectiveness.

Last week, we helped one of our clients organize and host a live round table event in London with members of the buy-side including CTAs, hedge funds and proprietary trading firms. This event was part of a year-long research project we’ve been doing to study the futures industry, develop effective buyer personas, and create content that is meaningful for that target audience.

We gathered about a dozen very senior people from the buy-side along with 2 people from the sell-side and 2 executives from our client to talk about key issues in the industry. Will Mitting, Publisher of Futures and Options World booked the participants, moderated and then wrote up an excellent report on the event which you can read here: CTAs Piece Together Fragmented Markets.

Here are 6 benefits you can expect from organizing events like this:

1. Gain Access to Senior Execs in Your Target Audience

Our strategy is to hold small, very exclusive round table events where everyone has a microphone and an opportunity to contribute to the discussion. This allows us to attract very senior people, who might not attend other types of events. It’s an opportunity for them to get in a room with their peers from competitive firms and discuss critical industry issues. They don’t get this chance very often. We consistently hear from participants that they take away a lot of valuable insights and were glad they participated.

The fact that everyone talks is WHY we’re able to get access to the most senior people. Most organizations won’t allow junior people to participate in this way. But their senior executives often want an opportunity to meet with this group of peers.

In the financial services industry, it’s important to observe the Chatham House Rule. Most of these people will only participate in the event on the condition of anonymity. The Chatham House Rule states: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

Your participants will need to know that you’re observing this rule when you’re inviting them. As long as they know it’s anonymous, it’s easier for them to gain approval to participate.

Immediately after the official round table concludes, hold a cocktail party and include your sales team. This is their chance to have conversations with the executives in a low-pressure environment. If those sales people were sitting in the back of the room during the discussion, they’ll have some great ideas for starting conversations.

2. Position Your Executive Team as Equals

An unstated but important goal for these round table events is to elevate the perception of your executives from the status of “trusted vendor” to “equal” or “trusted advisor” in the eyes of the participants. By putting 1-2 of the client’s senior executives at the table, we are subtly making them equals with the other participants, who are themselves senior industry executives.

3. Gain Insights that Will Help Refine Your Strategy

While the discussion is never specifically about the sponsoring vendor or its products, we still learn things that inform our client’s business, product and sales strategy. Invariably, there will be elements of a round table discussion that will surprise our clients. In some cases, they realize that their assumptions about the target market’s needs are slightly off. In other cases, they identify new needs of which they were previously unaware. And in some cases, they realize why their sales pitches are falling on deaf ears.

4. Gain a Better Understanding of the Target Audience

We often invite 1-2 people from sales, someone from marketing, and someone from PR to sit in the back of the room to listen. Generally, the sales people come out with new angles for selling to this target audience. It gives them an opportunity to hear more about the business pain points that clients are sometimes reticent to reveal during sales meetings.

The content also helps the marketing and PR teams find better ways to articulate the client’s pain points in marketing content. The insights help with positioning, messaging, and creating specific value propositions for specific audience segments.

5. Uncover Nuances on Industry Issues

These events give us a much deeper understanding of how this target audience articulates the problems they face and the solutions they seek. This nuance needs to be incorporated into the content strategy. The more we wrap their manner of speaking into our content, the more the content will resonate with the audience.

We always make sure there is a microphone in front of every speaker so we can capture a very clear recording. Then we have the entire event transcribed. This helps us capture voice and remember themes that we might otherwise forget.

6. Capture Insight for a Buffalo Content Program

If the topics and discussion is well-planned and moderated, we’ll capture enough content ideas in the transcript to develop a year-long Buffalo Content Program. The event can generate a comprehensive report that summarizes findings, which we’ll use as the core lead generation asset.

Then we can dig out themes and follow up with the participants to gather additional insights. Combining the themes from the transcript and follow-up conversations allows us to create more than a dozen articles and blog posts, along with webinars, press releases, videos, and email campaigns. Most of our clients are able to run a year-long marketing program based on the Buffalo content.

Note: In accordance the Chatham House Rule, we keep the sources anonymous in all content – identifying them only by general role (not specific title) and a description of their firm type (e.g., “a head of trading for a large systematic CTA said…”).

Choose the Right Space

It’s important to pick the right space for an event like this. Seating 15-20 people at an oblong or rectangular table does not facilitate an open dialogue as much as a round table does. In case you’re wondering, we held this event in the Dome Room at No. 1 Cornhill in London. It’s a great space in a convenient location next to Bank Station, and they have a round table that expands to accommodate up to 25 people.

Dome Room at No. 1 Cornhill - great for conducting roundtable discussion events.
Photo courtesy of London Executive Offices. Used by permission.


For more information about how to organize a live event as part of your content strategy, contact me at +1 970-300-2280.

To learn more about effective strategic marketing, click here.

Candyce Edelen