As any good marketer knows, getting face-to-face with target customers remains THE most effective way to build relationships, start conversations and secure new business. And events are a fantastic way to do just that.
Whether you’re going all out, are planning your own more intimate affair, or will be taking space at an exhibition or show, an event can provide you with the perfect platform to get in front of potential prospects – and we don’t just mean on the day. If you fully optimise your digital marketing activity you could see your messages being spread far and wide, and new opportunities start flooding in.
Don’t forget that the quality of the event itself will also have an effect on your success. If you’re hosting your own then you need to plan the subject, content and format of the event in the same detail that you would for any other marketing activity. No-one will want to attend just to hear a sales pitch (or one thinly disguised as a ‘networking’ opportunity). They will however make the effort to come and listen to something of interest to them, such as to hear from a guest speaker, or learn from a technical expert – in short, to attend something that will be interesting, engaging and of value.
The key to maximising the impact of any event, and importantly ensuring you generate a strong ROI, is having a plan in place that will make the most of every single stage of the process – that means looking at ways to get conversations started before, during and after the event.
To help you create that buzz and grab those leads, here are some top tips for boosting your success at each stage:
Step #1 – Ramping Up Your Game Pre-Event
Creating a pre-event buzz can start long before the day itself, so make sure you create your plan of attack early! Drip-feed information across all your communications channels, starting with teasers months in advance, and revealing a few more details each time, with a big push and (a number of) reminders in the final countdown. Think about everything you have to say and keep it snappy. Be clear on what the main selling points are. What will incentivise people to attend? In the case of an exhibition, why should they come find you?
Quick wins with email: Incorporating info about events within your email campaigns is a quick win when it comes to telling prospects and clients about the big day. Also think about adding an events segment into your newsletters, updating employee signatures, or sending out special VIP invites to your key clients. Also have a plan in place for each potential response you may receive – for example, those who express interest but can’t attend. If they can’t make this one, perhaps they could make a future one. Or you could use that insight to strengthen your other marketing activity and keep up their interest.
Social media is your best friend: Your social media sites are going to be one of the most important channels you have access to. A fact that will hold true across all stages of the events process. Use these channels to reach as many of your target audience as possible and to really shout about your event presence. Know and use all the hashtags associated with the event, look and monitor mentions, connect and follow, interact and share. Overall, be seen and be active. And to really stand out go above and beyond. For example, you could produce a social teaser campaign that leaves people curious, or encourages them to engage with you.
Make use of PR tactics: Don’t forget that news articles and blogs on your website can be just as important as social media activity. Use these items to make it loud and clear what’s happening, and the benefits of attending or visiting your stand. Tracking tools, such as those we offer at Lead Forensics, can help you identify the hot leads that are visiting your news pages so you can get clever, for example by creating a targeted campaign offering them a pre-event deal if they sign up early.
Step #2 – The Big Day
Hit the social channels hard: Everything has been working up to this day. Now it’s here, the last thing you should do is it have radio silence! Plan in advance and check you will have someone online who is focused on keeping up the momentum. Again, be monitoring mentions, sharing, liking, using the right hashtags, commenting. Take photos as often as you can, and with customers and people you are meeting. Get extra shares by taking photos of the venue and tagging them in.
Break the rules: If you’re holding your own event then don’t be afraid to break with tradition. Decide on your own event hashtag and put it up on the big screen along with your Twitter name. Start the event by telling attendees this is the part they’d usually be asked to turn their phones off – but you don’t want them to! Instead, you want them to be sharing anything they hear that they think is interesting. And again have someone from the team monitoring, sharing and following back. Post yourselves throughout the event as it is going on, with snippets and insights that jump out.
Get caught on camera: And why stop at just words and photos? Video is a high impact tool that is worth using. With smartphones and tablets nowadays, video is increasingly being used across all channels and it no-longer carries the high cost that it may once have done. Consider investing in a simple camera and tripod – remember to get general scene setting shots of the room and guests, then set the camera up to capture your speakers. With a little editing that can be done on software available on most computers, you could pull together some of the key highlights and create your own piece of video magic.
Step #3 – Post-Event
Keep up momentum: The big day may be over but now is when the hard work really starts. And there’s no time to lose! You’re likely to have met some fantastic people and all that is left to do is to turn those valuable leads into event ROI. The time period you leave before you follow up will have a huge effect on your likely effectiveness, so get on it. No relaxing just yet, it’s time to convert like never before!
Cunning plan: You should already have decided on your plan of action with regards to leads, follow ups and how to manage the process. All event leads should be followed up in a timely manner – the longer a lead sits untouched, the colder it becomes and the more likely it is that your competitors will be able to jump in. You need to decide who is doing what and when, and how information will be recorded. Decide what will happen to leads that can’t be reached – when will they be retried and how will you know you haven’t missed anyone?
Spoil your prospects with content: While your sales team are busy following up on the hottest leads, marketing should be jumping into action with tailored content. Try and do as much prep beforehand as you can. Have a content plan and materials prepared for every eventuality – so something thanking attendees who came, something for those who didn’t turn up, etc. This can be followed up with an overview of the event including pics and a link to the video embedded in your website. Consider turning stats and info into a shareable infographics (remember to have your name in there so you get the credit). Not only will you encourage engagement, but you could reach future prospects for your next B2B event.
Turn missed opportunities into leads. Not everyone will have made it to the event, or to visit your stand on the day, but if they’re interested in your product or service they will visit your website. Again IP tracking software can help you by identifying anonymous visitors to your website. This gives you the chance to join the dots and never miss out on a potential lead you may otherwise have missed.
For more information about IP tracking and how Lead Forensics software can help boost the impact of your event and its ROI, call 720 362 5033/0207 206 7293 or click here to start your free trial now.