On today’s episode, Effective Event Marketing- Maximize your in-person events to get more clients after the event, I’m going to talke to you about what you need to do before, during and after an event to get new clients so that the event is worth the time and espense.
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Effective Event Marketing Transcript
Before the pandemic, in-person event attendance, like trade shows, were on the decline from the past decade. Everybody was saying that the in-person event is dead. We saw hiatus during the pandemic of everything in person. So my prediction now is that I think we’re going to see a resurgence of in-person events for businesses, for people, because we want to get back out into the world, not necessarily into an office environment. But going to an event, hosting an event, it’s expensive, both in time and cost. Both are an investment. You have to prep correctly for before, during, and after the event in order to reach your goals for the event. So in this episode I’m going to talk to you about what you need to do before, during, and after an event to get new clients so that the event is worth your time and the expense.
Welcome to Marketing Strategies with Audrey Kerchner, sponsored by Inkyma, taking your small business to the next level with proven creative solutions designed to grow your awareness and connect to your customers. Now, here’s Audrey.
My name’s Audrey Kerchner and I am the co-founder and chief marketing strategist at Inkyma. Marketing Strategies is a podcast for all small business owners. We help you navigate the world’s marketing so you can market your business the right way, see growth, and thrive, regardless of the industry that you’re in. My dream is for you to take action on anything you hear in these podcasts, grow your business, and one day reach out and say, “Hey, you’re too busy to do your own marketing. I need someone to do it for me.” And that is the sign of true success and growth for business. Inkyma is a full service marketing agency and we bring that big agency process, service, and feel to all small business owners. To learn more about what we do, ask a question, schedule a marketing evaluation, go to our website, inkyma.com. It’s I-N-K-Y-M-A.com.
If you’re a new listener, you’re returning, welcome. So glad that you’re here investing in your business. You can listen to all of our past shows. I mention quite a few episodes every time I record because I build on everything I’ve already talked about. And we’re on any of your favorite podcast platforms. All the episodes are on the website and we even have them all up on our YouTube channel. Just search for Inkyma and Marketing Strategies will pop right up.
So why do an event? If we’re going to talk about event marketing I always like to start out with, “Why do I want to do this in the first place?” I think the biggest thing and what people have realized when they’ve had successful events is that you have a captive audience, unlike email marketing, social media, digital advertising, and other non in-person marketing tactics. That person is at home, at their office. They’re dealing with other stuff. The plumber’s at the front door. The kids crying. They may see your whatever for a split second and then get distracted.
When you’re in in person, 90% of the time, unless you know their phone’s ringing or they’re trying to work at the same time, you’ve got a captive audience. Someone’s making eye contact. They’re having a conversation with you or they’re at least standing around doing absolutely nothing, waiting for someone. You get to have that conversation and to make that connection.
The other thing that you get with these in-person events is better brand awareness. Your logo can be really, really big. If you’re at a trade show it can be on your shirt full color. So you’re having a conversation. They’re laughing. You’ve got warm feelings going. You’re making connections. And then they’re looking at your brand at the same time. And that is the best way for brand awareness to happen because they’re having those good feelings and emotions come in and they’re looking at your brand and then it connects the two. And then you even get it the next day, if it’s a multiday event, or they may walk by, remember it, because they saw your brand. It’s very impactful when that happens.
And the reason that both of these things are important is it’s the sales cycle. Now, if you are in sales or you’ve ever read a sales book, you know that there’s a sales cycle. And the sales cycle is usually between one, seven, or eight touches depending on your product service level, what you’re doing before the person trusts your company and buys from it. Sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes it’s longer, but you’ll know what your normal sales cycle is.
These type of interactions from an in-person event can shorten that sales cycle. So instead of it being five touches it may only take three because you took up two of those because you met the person in person and made a connection. And you also get a lot of great information about the person when you’re talking to them, both verbal and nonverbal. You can see how they’re dressed, what their mannerisms are. You can ask them questions trying to figure out if they’re the decision maker or not. And then if you get to collect their information and you get to market to them personally, like with email marketing, you can actually personalize that marketing based off of what you found out and figured out while that person was standing in front of you. So these are all really great reasons to make that time and cost investment in the right type of event. So now let’s talk about types of events.
So for business to business, you have networking events where you go to make connections, either with potential customers or people that are referral partners… Don’t ever forget your referral partners. They’re really, really important. Trade shows, job fairs, regional business expos where businesses are selling to a group together… So you get to meet other businesses plus those leads directly. And then event-based companies hosting the event. That’s business to business and B2C for them.
B2C type of events is you’ve got markets… All the different from types of markets out there. Consumer industry specialty shows. So what these are is if someone is an avid car person or they like to knit or they like to weave or they like to crochet, there are actually events that are put on for people that are deep into the specialties. So if you’ve ever been to a car show, those are open to the consumer public. You go, you take the family, you walk around. All this really cool stuff happens. And then there’s textile shows for those crafter type folks, your business to consumer type of events. You have your markets, your farmer’s markets, your high-end markets, that people go to weekends, Thursday evenings, afternoons.
And then there’s consumer industry specialty shows. So if someone is an avid car person or they have a hobby that they’re really into, there are actually shows that have been created and designed for just those type of people. If you’ve ever been to a car show where the general public goes to it, they have cool novelty cars like Batman’s car, but then all the car industries bring their different cars, or you have a classic car show. And then for the textiles industry, for your weavers, your knitters, your crocheters, they have multi-day events for extreme hobbyists where they can actually go and buy from the owners, talk to them, have educational events. They even have runway events for them. It’s really pretty cool. And then other things like hobby airplane shows. So think about your industry, and are there events like this that you can go to.
The other thing for B2Cs is you can host in-store events where you have people come into your store, you offer specials, they’re all coming to you, but you have to promote it. That’s the difference between one of these other events, is someone else is promoting it versus you.
And then I touched on it before, but these event-based companies. So they host weddings. They host concerts. They are venues, and so they need to think about this as, yeah, they’re trying to bring in people to do those things, but also they can market to the people that attend the events as well so that everybody knows that, “Hey, they could have their wedding here too,” or they could have their concert or they could have their business meeting here.
And then the last area I want to touch on is for eCommerce companies. They’re B2C and some are even B2B, but that doesn’t preclude them from having or participating in events. Actually, for e-commerce companies, going to do in-person events or popup events is a really great way to spread that awareness faster. Doing digital alone, it really makes it take longer or to pierce the veil, where an in-person event, you can have these spikes of piercing, for lack of a better word. And then that increases awareness so much faster. So just because maybe you’re listening to this and you’re e-commerce, don’t preclude in-person events.
So now that we talked about why events are great, the type of events you can have, now let’s talk about what you should do before, during, and after the events to maximize your return on investment.
You’re listening to marketing strategies and I’m Audrey Kerchner. We’re talking about event marketing and what you can do to increase your return on investment for time and money, regardless of the type of event that you’re going to be participating in.
So let’s start with what you need to do before the event. So aside from picking and deciding what event you’re going to go to, what’s your goal for the event? And sometimes those go hand-in-hand. If you know who the attendees are going to be that’s going to help figure out what your goals are going to be, but you absolutely need to have goals. Are you going to be selling X number of product or X number of service at the event? What is that number? Or are you really trying to drive sales leads? Are you trying to get five sales leads, 10 sales leads, over the day?
And so that’s what I call your primary event. What I want you to do as well is don’t ever forget that secondary goal. And what I mean by secondary goal is your primary goal is what you’re going to sell at the event, but the secondary goal is to get people to sign up to listen to you later. Sign up for your newsletter. If you don’t have a newsletter, you should have a newsletter. You should have a way to stay in front of people when you’re not physically standing in front of them, because you could actually sell to them later. Maybe they’re not ready when they’re standing in front of you today, but what about three months, six months, down the road? And you want that mechanism in place.
So the other things that you’re going to think about is branding. How are you going to display your brand and your logo? Make it visible for those that are walking by as well as those that come in to your space. If you’re going to do you any type of giveaways, make sure your logo and information is on that giveaway. If you’re giving away shirts or pens, add your contact information. Don’t make it too difficult for them to find you.
The other thing I like to tell people to do is make sure those giveaways are related to your industry. It makes them more memorable and if it’s related to your industry, it’s related to what they’re interested in because they’re at the event. So if you’re a general contractor and you’re at a home building show, instead of giving away just pens, give away rulers. People are going to use those rulers. I have a ruler that I’ve had for 10 years from a general contractor that I met 10 years ago because I use it all the time. And pens that I got 10 years ago, they’re pretty much gone.
And then always make sure you have a takeaway piece, something they can take with them that has your information on it. And then as part of the branding concept inside your little display area, make sure you have a really beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing display. And then if you need it, some type of video that demonstrates your product’s use. And I would say most people need it. Even if it’s something that’s just a consumable, show people consuming the product. It puts things in people’s brains and when they see other people doing something, they go, “Is that me?” And if they say yes, then they’re more likely you to buy it versus, “Maybe,” that kind of thing.
Now let’s talk about offers. They’re there at the show. They’re open, they’re prime. You can talk to them. Make sure you have some type of show only offer that they can get: a discount on buying that day or during the three days that you’re there. Free evaluations. And then if you’re really into sales and you want to get into their office or something to that effect, free lunch, free dinner for those longer sales cycles.
Now let’s talk about that secondary goal, collection of the information so you can continue to keep talking to them, because not everybody’s going to buy right there. They’re not ready and you made that deep connection and you don’t want it to go to waste. So collecting their email address or their mailing address for as many people as possible so you can follow up afterwards is key.
Now, this is where most people fall down. Not in the collection part at the show; it’s the following up afterwards. And the reason they fall down is because they’ve got to do order entry. You collect a hundred names. You collect 200 names, email addresses. It’s on a piece of paper. It’s inside of a fishbowl. It’s in these weird places that it’s very, very time consuming to get into your CRM system, your customer relationship management system, your email system. So why not cut out the middle man? Set it up so that when the person is there, the signup goes directly into your CRM system and there’s no data entry. You are far more likely to do something with that information if it’s already been collected.
And so what I recommend here is use a QR code. Have something set up where, “Enter to become part of our newsletter and you will get this really great free thing or we’re going to send you something.” They scan the QR code. They fill out the form, hit send, you can verify it on your other end, depending on the system that you’re using and they’re in. And then you can follow up with everybody extremely easy afterwards.
And the last thing that I want you to consider during the before stage is awareness. Don’t just sign up for something, go, and then hope the venue has done their job to make sure everybody’s there. Let people know, let the people you know, that you’re going to you there, and why they should come. Give them an incentive. Because I can guarantee you… And this is from experience. You can be standing in a booth, all these strangers around, and then someone you know, a customer, shows up and walks in and the energy changes. You’re like, “Hey, how are you? I’m so glad you’re here.” You’re like, “Oh my God, a familiar face. Someone I know who already likes me,” and then it changes the energy for everybody in the area. So imagine if that just constantly kept happening. Then the other people would see that interaction and they would want to participate in it as well. So it’s like social psychology here where, “All these people are being friendly. I’m going to be friendly too.”
And so make sure you’ve done digital ads. You’ve sent emails out. If you’re a in-person store, in-store flyers or leave behind pieces where you’ve talked to people. Encourage people that you’ve already met to come to the show and give them an incentive why. “Come to the show! Get the special client show discount,” that you’re not giving to the brand new people that are coming.
So now let’s talk about what you’re going to do during the event when you’re there. First, you got to dress the part I’ve seen this happen so many times that I feel like I have to address this, is you need to match your brand and your industry. Brand and industry. So let’s talk about industry first.
If you’re a contractor or in the construction industry or an electrician, you can get away with a polo and nice slacks and that kind of thing. But if in your industry let’s say you’re a general contractor and you’re only building million, $2 million homes, you might have to step up your dress code because the type of people you’re attracting are not the same ones that are just going to build a $300,000 home. So that’s why I say your brand and your industry. So those are the trade guys. Let’s talk about someone like high tech sales. Regardless, that’s your industry. Regardless of the brand, you need to be in a suit. Showing up in dress-down wear at an event, regardless if that’s what you do every day, isn’t going to cut it.
Next thing, never sit down unless you are in a meeting with someone and you’re both sitting. And in that instance, then you make sure there’s someone else available to greet people that are coming in. Because people will stand and wait until you get up and disengage or they’ll walk away. Nine times out of 10, they’re going to walk away. So you want to make sure that even if you’re in discussion with someone, there’s always someone else available to talk to someone coming in. You’ve made this time and investment. Now make sure you staff it properly.
Now, you know your goals, both your primary and your secondary because you’re the one that put this together. Make sure that everybody who mans that booth or is at that event or doing something knows your primary and secondary goals as well. So selling or scheduling a meeting is the primary goal and getting them to sign up for something is the secondary goal, but make sure everybody knows what those goals are.
And so now after. You had a great event. You collected a lot of people. You got a lot of sales, hooray. Now you need to follow up with everybody. So follow up email campaigns, this is where the magic happens. So you break them down into segments and create sales funnels for deeper connections, casuals, the people that drove by and just dropped something off. And so you want to categorize them because you’re going to talk to them differently in these sales funnels.
If you didn’t listen to episode 19 about what a sales funnel is, why they’re awesome, and how you do them, go back and listen to that one. And then the other thing you can do in these emails is to consider extending the event offer for a select group and you’ll know who they are. If you did some type of a contest at the booth, like, “Sign up to get this,” now is the time to contact to the winners. And what I like is if you do something small. You’re giving away something small for the signup. It doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to give away an iPad because really you can only afford to do one or two of those. Pick something you can afford to do a lot of. And then you can select a large group of winners and they don’t need to know that a lot of people won. They’re going to just see themselves as, “I’m the winner.” And then you say, “Congratulations, you won this. We’re going to send this out to you. Thanks so much for being at the event.”
Because again, they’re going to be in wherever they are and you’re going to get their focus because they’re getting something. You’re not asking for something, you’re giving something. And that feel-good connection’s going to be there. And then if you make a big, beautiful HTML email, your logo’s going to be on it, and then you’re going to have that feel-good connection. So if you already had that feel-good connection at the event and you get it again after the event, that’s gold.
Then what you do is you have those sales funnels in place. You get people where you need them to go. And then you add everyone to your newsletter. And you should be doing newsletter, which is what I said earlier in the podcast. Listen to episode 14 to learn why it’s important. You have to constantly be talking to your audience and an educational newsletter where you’re putting out articles and tips is a really great way to do that. Episode 14 dives in a little bit deeper.
So hopefully I’ve gotten you really excited about wanting to get back to in-person events, doing these types of really cool things. And so with this knowledge you now need to take action, otherwise it doesn’t do you any good. So I’m going to walk you through the high-level action steps that you need to take to make this happen for you and for your business.
So the first thing I want you to do is decide on the type of event that’s going to be best for your business and schedule it. Some of these events, especially if you’re B2C and you want to go to a market, sometimes they sell out 3, 6, 12 months in advance to get a spot. They’re highly sought after because they have enormous attendance and enormous sales potential. So do your due diligence and make sure you get the right event. Don’t just sign up for any event. You got to do something that’s right for your business, because if you sign up for the wrong event, it could fail miserably. You could spend all this time trying to do all the right things, but it’s not the right audience for you.
This is especially true if you’re attending networking events. You got to make sure your potential audience is at least in the sphere of what you’re trying to do. So if you’re going after Fortune 500 companies, you don’t go to a chamber networking mixer where it’s all financial advisors and real estate agents that usually sign up for that kind of stuff. You’re going to probably have to go to paid events where the sponsor is Budweiser or Pepsi or some bigger type of company or some type of a bank, like a golf outing. Those are the folks that you’re going after.
Next thing I want you to do, decide on your goals for the event. We’ve talked about this. Figure out your goals, primary and secondary, and then build your tactics around those goals: what you’re going to give away, what you’re going to do, how you’re going to collect things, and try to make that collection process as automated as possible. So if you are B2C and you’re selling product, have the credit card scanner right in the booth. Don’t just take cash. Make sure you have that all worked out and make sure you’ve practiced it. And then if you’re getting people to sign up for a newsletter, automate that as well. Make your life easy.
Okay. So number three, I want you to prep for success with how the booth should look and make sure everyone who’s working the event with you is trained as well. So if you’ve got a booth, that’s great. Train, all that good stuff. And even if you’re going to a networking event and it’s you and four colleagues, make sure you’re all in sync about what your goals are and who you want to talk to. The last thing you want to do is bring four people or pay for four people to go someplace and you’ve got one person that doesn’t understand why they’re there and they go and they sit at the dessert table and drink coffee. So make sure everybody’s trained.
And to that point, big companies, when they get these really large booths, they’ll actually have a sales professional come in, train everybody for them. They’ll motivate them. They’ll get everybody excited on day one so that the energy is already high and stays that way throughout the entire show. So if they’re spending that kind of money, you can spend at least a good half hour sitting down with everybody and making sure everybody’s on the same page.
And then lastly, follow-up after the event is crucial. Most companies say that events don’t work for them or that it wasn’t the right event for them, but what it was is they didn’t follow up afterwards. The gold, the money, the long-term reward for this short-term investment, is what happens afterwards. If you can collect and talk to a hundred people, 200 people, that at least have seen your logo in person or talk to someone who’s part of your team, is so huge. And then those folks can follow up individually as well if they made a super personal connection with someone. So make sure that you do all the really good after stuff. Don’t just, “Okay, we made these sales during event, boom, we’re done.” That’s not the end.
So here are my final thoughts. Events are fun. They create great energy and excitement when you’re there, but they’re a lot of work and they can be a very large investment in both time and money for the business owner. So as the business owner, if this is going to be your first event or your first couple events, manage it yourself or manage it extremely closely. It could be you and one other person, but don’t delegate, “Hey, this is our first event. You go and make this happen,” because it’s your business and you need to understand what worked, what didn’t work, if it’s something that you want to do again. And really the only way you can do that, especially when you have an internal team is to really be in it up to your elbows, just like everybody else. And then you’ll really know if it worked or didn’t work.
Whether you are managing this or someone else is doing it… Maybe it’s your fifth or sixth event and something’s going out there. If at all possible attend the event at least one day for a couple of hours. With these type of events people love to see and talk to the owners. And so you can have it staffed 99% of the time. You go in for an hour each day. Let everybody know when you’re going to be there and say, “Hey, come back at this date and time. The owner’s going to be here. He or she would love to answer your questions, talk to you, and all that good stuff.” So make sure you’re participating, even if you’re not managing and running it.
And so get help. If you’re too busy to plan and execute an event, you use internal help to do it or you can hire a marketing agency who will help you every step of the way in the process. They’ll guide you through the entire process. They’ll help you figure out what your goals are, what the best events are, what to do before, during, and after. And then they can handle all the after. And the companies that do after really well are the ones that have an agency that do the after on their behalf because you have to go back to normal life. So make sure you’re maximizing that investment by doing all of the right things as you go.
Here at Inkyma, we like to give back to the business community. I provide a free 45-minute marketing consultation to any business owner. Regardless if you’re looking for a marketing company, an event management company, a digital advertising website, we’ve got you covered. Or maybe you just have a question that you just need to have an answer to. That’s totally fine too. Go to the website inkyma.com, I-N-K-Y-M-A.com, and in the upper right-hand corner you can click on, “Schedule a marketing evaluation,” pick your date and time, and we are on the calendar. Or scroll to the bottom. There is a contact form. Put your name, information in. And actually, I answer all of those personally.
So hopefully you found this episode enlightening, educational, informative. If you did, please consider sharing it with other business owners you know. You’re not the only one out there that’s struggling with this concept of events or what to do. I’m sure they are. You’ve probably talked about it. And that’s what this podcast is all about, helping the entire business community grow and thrive. Thanks for listening and have an amazing day.
Thanks for listening to Marketing Strategies, sponsored by Inkyma, online at I-N-K-Y-M-A.com. Listen to Marketing Strategies every Saturday morning at 7:30 on KPPF.