One of the staples of every good, comprehensive and effective marketing plan is event marketing. It often gets overlooked, which ironically creates an opportunity who choose not to overlook it.
Most every business owner, company or brand I speak with has all the same components in their marketing plan. Shades of gray, maybe, but by and large there are the important digitally-based marketing strategies and the important offline marketing strategies (often associated with a physical, retail component, direct mail and the like). Obviously, I believe and we believe as an agency that these components are at the very least important and more likely vital.
In-person events are hugely important, and I believe they are overlooked because they seem daunting in two ways: 1) Financially or 2) Logistically. I think the overarching mindset about customizing an event for your top clients (as appreciation), prospects (as a sales tool), customers (to build goodwill around your brand) is that it will break the bank without showing a *direct* ROI and that they are too difficult and time-consuming to put together in a professional, well-done way.
I can tell you that most often these assumptions are not very accurate.
I always like to say that no matter what your budget, you can always afford some type of event. And, putting together the logistics for events – including invitations, RSVP system, the event itself, the menu, whatever – is easier when you have someone who knows how to use the tools available to event planners properly. That last word is the key one: properly.
Why am I such a big fan of planning and executing customized events in business? A few reasons. Despite how easy and efficient technology has made our lives, there is still no substitute for meeting someone in person, shaking their hand, looking them in the eye, and establishing a real relationship. In fact, I still know businesses who will only work with partners they have met in person. I completely agree with this notion, by the way.
Another reason? Goodwill. I know when I get invited to something special – a sporting event, a nice cocktail party, a rented-out venue – I *feel* taken care of and special. I remember it. It goes a long way for months and years. I probably don’t remember the email or exchange over IM from last month; I probably do remember being taken to a game at Yankee Stadium for the first time and having someone say “thank you for your business.”
Closely related to this…I believe events are the only way to go for sales and prospecting. It’s alarming how many businesses and sales teams still only rely on Powerpoints or email pitches or a Facebook friendship. When utilized properly, event marketing makes you and your sales team actually stand out. It makes you memorable, unforgettable in a very short-term-memory world.
The next time you’re thinking about what you can do for your current clients, customers or new prospects, just remember what it is that makes you special and makes you stand out and what you’re proud to exhibit in person. Most often, events make those qualities come to fruition better than anything else.
One last comment about ROI. The other falsity out there about events is that there’s no ROI to them. You spend money, hold a great event, and never see that money again. Couldn’t be further from the truth. You control the guest list, you control who is there, you control your follow-up strategies, and I believe there every single event should be able to get a sponsor no matter how big or small. That’s a whole different topic, and there’s some secret sauce to it, but if you’re not thinking about events as money-making, you’re making a mistake.
See you behind the velvet ropes!