Even in the age of social media, event marketing can play an important role in lead generation. Some planners are using this channel well, others are not.
Indeed, while digital and online platforms are attracting a more significant share of marketing dollars, it’s important to consider a multi-channel approach.
A professionally managed client networking event can be a fantastic way to engage new prospects and win business; however, a poorly delivered function can harm your brand and prove a waste of money for little return.
So, what are the three key areas to focus on to ensure your networking event is a success?
Plan the outcomes and set some milestones
For starters, identify what you’re seeking to achieve, starting with the topic or theme you feel will resonate best with your network.
As with other marketing channels, establish some clearly defined targets and outcomes. It could be that generating several valuable leads is your goal or, better still, lead conversions. Alternatively, you might establish attendance targets. Either way, just be clear on what you want to get out of the event.
Also be sure to give yourself the time to achieve your goals. Rushing into the event before you’re ready will almost always guarantee an unfortunate result. We recommend giving yourself a minimum of six weeks from the time you send the invites to the event itself.
Being ready means having a location secured, a firm date, and a time of day set in stone. You must also have your invite ready and a targeted invitation list prepared. Your social media marketing elements should be ready to go, too. Most importantly, you must have a plan established for the lead-up to the event, the function itself and the follow-up (more on this later). Taking the time to get your planning right, along with identifying your event goals, will set you on the path to a successful function.
Select a suitable partner
It’s commonplace for planners to invite a business partner to be a keynote presenter. We attended an event recently where a planner teamed with a real estate buyer’s agent to present about the benefits of property investing. Partnering is a worthy idea, as it helps you provide more information to a prospective client while potentially winning over the business partner’s clients.
Choosing the right partner is critical. For that reason, it’s up to you to make sure the information the partner provides works for your target audience. There must also be synergy between you and the business partner’s presentation and content. I’ve seen events where this co-operation is missing, and it makes for a disjointed presentation for the attendees. Be clear about why you and the business partner are presenting together and what attendees should take from the presentation.
WY Advice principal Sarah Harding, who runs regular networking events for her clients, says taking the time to market them represents a large chunk of the work that goes into a successful event.
“Social media is my channel of choice,” Harding says. “Then 20 per cent involves having beneficial, helpful guest speakers, who can provide relevant value to your audience. The better the speaker, the more value they will share.”
Before, during and after
Determining a plan for before, during and after the event is critical to achieving your marketing ambitions.
- Before: Preparation is paramount and should include how you’re going to interact with the attendees; for example, you need to set some deadlines to have the content ready for the invitations and the reminders.
- During: Plan what you want to happen at the function. This will involve creating a run sheet layered with critical milestones. As part of this preparation, determine whether marketing materials will be made available to your guests and, of course, who will attend from your firm.
- After: Establish what follow-up marketing to send guests and determine the right information and messages.
TOPICS: anthony o'brien, Digtial Media, social media