Most sales and marketing events will leave a sizable dent in the budget. In addition to the expense, the hours and effort needed to put a successful event together are great. So, how does one attain the best return on this big investment? Let’s begin by talking a bit more about events and how to use them to drive income.
What’s An Event?
For this article, what we call events are some kind of sales or marketing pitch presented to a group of prospective customers. These events are held at a particular time and location, either in-person, streaming, or both. The variety of formats for marketing events include: seminars, webinars, videoconferencing, spoken lectures or trade shows.
The Expense of Events
These sorts of events can be a pricey way to prospect to potential customers; if this as the primary objective, the marketing event could yield less than favorable results. The per attendee cost of these events can run between the hundreds and thousands of dollars. So, if prospects are the main objective for hosting the event, you may want to leverage the cost of the event with other marketing communication forms, such as direct-mail, email, and phone marketing. Or, you could simply leverage another event by becoming a speaker at a business event, trade show, or industry conference. You’ll need to take responsibility for producing handouts and your presentation, but may be able to generate leads this way at a fraction of the cost.
Moving Known Prospects Along
If you’re bold enough to ask a prospect you don’t know to a half or full day event, you may also be the type who asks a first date if they want to go away with you for the weekend – usually these sorts of activities are more appropriate after you’ve become more familiar with each other. This is why events make a great vehicle for moving known prospects along in the sales cycle. By ‘known’ I mean those who’ve already made an effort to respond to a previous mail-out, white paper, or how-to guide. In short, they’ve already expressed some initial interest. Still, where these good prospects are in the purchasing cycle can tell us a lot about what type of event will work best.
Midstage – for those in the middle, low-commitment events such as executive breakfasts, learning luncheons, or webinars are appropriate. Keep the running time under an hour for better retention during the event, and be sure to offer attendees something they can truly use in their career. Although prospecting in this way is expensive, these mini-events can cost-effectively speak to a new set of prospects after the primary seats have been filled with your hottest leads. Consider the use of your upcoming webinar as another offering in your marketing campaign efforts. Also, remember to provide a press release or listing in a local newspaper calendar.
Hot Prospects – those who’ve shown that they are interested are usually closer to making a purchase decision. Design events for them that provide the level of detail they’ll need to go ahead with the final decision. Demonstrations of the product, or more technical seminars are great for this advanced stage. Now that you have their interest, it’s time to show the cost and resource comparisons, new features and benefits which your solution is offering. They’ll want to know what it’s like to be one of your customers, in advance. Testimonials from clients and case studies are great for this stage.
Bottom Line – events are a costly and risky way to develop sales prospects, particularly for businesses with limited marketing budgets. However, instead of viewing these events as just a marketing expense to attain prospects, think of it as a way to move prospects along in a good direction. Make the midstage buyer’s presentation a bit shorter, though informative. Keep the extensive technical information for those who have already shown their interest and just need to really see it in action to make the decision. In doing this, you can save some of the time and expense that goes in to marketing events, and your sales prospects will be attaining information at the right time – ultimately leading to increased sales.
M. H. “Mac” McIntosh is described by many as one of America’s leading business-to-business sales and marketing consultants and an expert on sales leads. He is president of Mac McIntosh Inc., a B2B marketing consulting firm that helps companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales. More tips at Mac’s Sales Lead Insights: B2B Marketing Blog.