In today’s cluttered business landscape, where it takes a great deal for brands to win the war for attention, you need to take every opportunity to nourish relationships and gain the trust of your potential clients. One of the great ways to do this is by organising events.
Insight: Through events, your target audience has the opportunity to experience you, your brand, firsthand.
Data: In fact, according to Bizzabo, “95% of marketers agree that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world”.
Key Action Point: Consider integrating events into your strategy mix.
The hype of digital marketing is high reach, low effort. All the major social media and search engine platforms advertise themselves as a way to reach the world without having to put in face time. This may have been true ten years ago when these platforms were just getting started.
In 2008, you might have been able to get away with keyword stuffing and automated link building to gain an audience.
In 2018, the stakes are higher. There are millions more businesses online today. Consumers are more aware of tricks than ever.
Most importantly, the platforms distributing your marketing messages have changed their rules drastically.
In order to succeed in sales today, you have to use these platforms to create a personal connection with your audience.
This is the reason that even the biggest, most isolated tech firms take the time to employ traditional PR events and outreach. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and just about any other successful tech company you can think of are mainstays at industry events.
As a matter of fact, they take it upon themselves to host these events on many occasions.
But can SMEs and challenger businesses leverage events too? How do we create events that resonate with our target customers and make them want to buy?
At Step Change, we have been running events long enough to know that it does work. But we don’t just do any event anytime we feel like it. We make sure that our events are backed by strategy and effective implementation.
Below are some of our insights on creating events that resonate your audience and produce a positive return.
Event Titles Matter
In business, everyone judges a book by its cover. There are so many choices out there — stereotyping is the only effective way to conduct business. The title of your event will make a difference in who attends and who takes it seriously.
You are not trying to appeal to everyone around you when you throw an event. You want to attract the people who are most likely to buy from you. Choose an event title that corresponds most closely with your buyer personas, or target audience.
If you have data on the people who are most likely to buy from you, now is the time to use that data.
Learn how to create buyer personas here.
Ensure Events Fit into Your Funnel
Your events won’t serve its purpose, which is basically to acquire customers, if they don’t fit into your marketing and sales funnels.
Theme your events along the same lines as your sales funnel. If you plan to market to the top end of the funnel, your event will look vastly different from an event that focuses on customers at the end of the funnel.
Use the Right Content for the Right Audience
When promoting the event, does your content answer the question “What’s in it for the reader?” Personalising your content to your readership is the essence of salesmanship, and the same is true for event marketing.
If your audience is ready to be sold, then focus your efforts on conversion tactics, not lead generation. You may not need the bright, flashy banners and the multicoloured, shapeshifting showcases.
Converting prospects may be a more subtle affair depending on your audience. Don't be fooled by competitors making all the noise. They may just be attracting attention from low-quality prospects.
Create an Exclusive Discounted Sales Promotion
You should not expect anyone to pay full price for your products at an event. There is nothing wrong with this. The face-to-face connection is more than worth it.
Do you have an idea of what your loss leaders are? If not, find them. If so, prepare them for a showcase at your upcoming events. Not only will you attract more people, but you will also discover the true strength of your loss leaders.
If people grab your discounted item and you get a low percentage of upsells, then you definitely need to reconsider the product that you place in the forefront.
Exclusivity at an event is also a great way to generate new leads on site. Fear of loss is a powerful attractant — even more powerful when done in person. If a prospect sees a benefit that is visible but unreachable, he is more likely to break down and convert.
Be loud and proud about rewarding your best customers. Done the right way, exclusive discounts are more than worth the initial loss of revenue.
Set Up a Digitised Sales Process
There is nothing worse than taking the time to bring a prospect to the end of the sales funnel and lose him right before the close.
What is the easiest way to do this? If you want to lose customers at close, make the closing process difficult. Introduce some unprofessional administration into the process, and your prospect will quickly lose faith in your company and leave.
A digitised sales process automates the close, reducing human error and ensuring the security and viability of the information that customers give you.
Creating a digital sales process keeps you from losing out on sales because of credit card fraud or something similar.
Good customers will quickly lose faith if they see you do not have the technological means for the most important part of the sales process. Do not spend all your tech budget on outreach and lead gen only to pull out pencil and paper to write down a credit card. If anything, you should be doing the exact reverse of this.
Give Them Giveaways
Be ready to give away free stuff at events. You will be competing for eyeballs and attention. The fastest way to get this attention is to initiate a giveaway.
Keep in mind that a giveaway is not really a giveaway. You never give away something for nothing.
As you hand over your loss leader, you are taking valuable information from your prospect that you can use for email lists, remarketing, and other outreach efforts.
Make sure that the information you take down is verified. You should be able to determine the scale of giveaway that you can afford from the cost of conversion metric from previous events.
Add a Fun Interactive Element
Even if you do not have a huge tech or marketing budget, you can always be interactive. Your interactive element does not have to be directly related to your product or service.
For instance, if you have a photo booth installed near your floor location, you can simply brand yourself on the pictures that your prospects take.
Alternatively, you can try other ideas like a trivia game or a sweepstakes with questions about your company and prizes from your inventory.
Whatever you choose, always have a backup plan. Just because you think something is fun does not mean that your audience will necessarily engage with it in a live setting with everyone else's bells and whistles within arms reach.
You Must Connect with Your Customers
Event marketing is all about making personal connections. With all the distractions given to us online, anyone who makes it out to an event is definitely engaged in the subject matter.
Give them the respect that they deserve and treat them as individuals.No matter what other marketing tactics you employ, take the time to engage with the personally.
Everything leads to this moment. If you do not make a personal connection, then all the other marketing tactics talked about here will fall flat.
Do Not Forget about Social Media
Social media is the icing on the cake. You may think of icing as a luxury, but that is not exactly what I mean. Whatever cake you buy, it’s the icing that actually sells the cake. What does this mean about how you should use social media?
The first thing that you should do is prepare your event to be used on social media. There is nothing better for any online marketing campaign than original content.
An off-line event gives you endless opportunity to create original online content. If you have the manpower, give one employee the singular task of taking good pictures and videos.
If you do this well, you have created content that you can use for months without paying tens of thousands of dollars for outsourced production value.
Savvy businesses use streaming technology to broadcast their presence at off-line events to an online audience. This way you maximise your real-time exposure while creating content for future marketing campaigns. You can even incorporate your sales and giveaways into these real-time streams.
Wrapping It All Up
The best practices above may seem like a lot to take in. They are, however, great tools to maximise the investment that you are making in creating an offline event.
If you are going to take the time to create an event, then you should prepare yourself to optimise the output from it. Properly managed, there are few marketing tools that will give you better reach, higher ROI, and quicker results than events that cater to the sales process.
Photo credits: Sabrina Maxwell