Events help you know your customers and potential customers face-to-face. Done well, they’ll move attendees to buy your products and services. ‘
Why Hold Events?
People buy from people they know. That’s why word-of-mouth advertising, despite marketers’ best efforts to make their work the center of attention, remains the number one reason people buy.
Why fight the facts? When businesses’ marketing departments use word-of-mouth advertising to their advantage, sales happen. Events are one of the best ways to get the word-of-mouth vibes a company needs to sell its services and products. In fact, according to ExperientialMarketingNews.com, 93 percent of all consumers say that live events influence them even more than TV ads.
Here’s how to leverage up-close-and-personal event marketing to rack up sales.
Make Your Event Unique
As Forbes’ A.J. Agrawal puts it, “think out of the box” when you plan events. All your competitors, Agrawal points out, default to the usual “holidays and sales.”
You can, of course, celebrate those. Yet consider adding more unexpected events to your arsenal. Unusual holidays, for instance, particularly those that have special meaning for your business are great times for special promotions and events: Sweetest Day for florists and candy shops, National Music Week for music studios and record shops, National Donut day for donut shops, and so on.
Celebrate changing seasons. When you welcome a new employee, get your customers in on the act.
Between nationwide holidays, people look for reasons to celebrate. Give them something to celebrate, and they’ll thank you with their business—and with their referrals.
Use Cutting-Edge Resources to Create Customer-Specific Events
With today’s cloud ERP and other data management solutions, says Agrawal, you can gather information about specific customers or groups of customers. Put those to use to create specific events tailored to individuals or groups, and you can have marketing gold.
- Customer segment events: If, for example, you’re a music studio and you discover that a great number of your students prefer rock guitar, you might consider holding a free or low-cost seminar or master class that features a renowned rock guitarist. Not only would you make your own rockers happy, but you would attract a huge number of potential students who will come out to such an event. Similarly, a grocery store with a large number of wine lovers among its customer base could hold a wine pairing course with a celebrity chef or sommelier.
- Single-customer events: Birthdays, graduations, and other personal milestones call for a celebration of sorts. Of course, you can’t hold a party for everyone, but you can give them free gifts, a hefty discount, or both. Send a card, signed by your company’s CEO for even more positive vibes. Recognize them on social media to spread the word to an even wider audience.
Hold Events That Have Growth Potential through the Years
As event expert Chris Preston points out, “tactical solutions,” those that only focus on events coming up soon, only produce short-term results. A more productive way to plan events, he says, is to think about how an event will affect the company’s growth over the long run. When you do that, you can build an event into something customers and exhibitors will look forward to and plan for.
As they become part of people’s long-term plans, they take on almost a holiday atmosphere of their own. Automobile manufacturers, for instance, have yearly events that introduce their newest models. Car fanciers come out in droves for these events, driving or flying from miles away just to see what dazzling new features the new models sport.
Fashion houses do much the same thing, only on a seasonal basis. These events didn’t start with seat-of-the-pants planning. Their organizers looked far down the road for events that had the best growth potential—both in attendance and in marketing—and created events that have become staples on the calendars of their best customers.
Fashion giants create interest through long-term planning and pairing tradition with innovation
Create Memorable Experiences through a Mix of the Old and New
Events often take on a life of their own. Keep track of the most popular parts of your events through comments, attendance, and other measurable data. Keep those, but be sure to add fresh, exciting content to your regular events to keep people “motivated to attend,” as Preston puts it.
With traditional favorites and fresh additions, your events will soon become staples on your customers’ calendars. Along with that familiarity comes an increased comfort level with your brand—and hence, increased sales.
Match Your Customers’ Interests with Event Sessions
This should be a critical part of your event strategy. If you have well-known speakers to headline plenary sessions, theatrical presentations, or concerts, be sure that their subject matter and style matches your target customers’ needs. For example, at an event targeted at rock guitarists, you wouldn’t want to have a classical guitarist (even one of the world’s best) as your guest presenter—unless he or she had a knack for bettering rock guitarists’ chops through classical technique.
Similarly, for a food tasting event for wine lovers, a teetotaling down-home chef wouldn’t be your best choice, but if your event was aimed at home cooks in the South, he or she might be the perfect touch.
Talk to Attendees to Ensure Positive Experiences
Events that deliver positive experiences drive attendance and sales, says Preston. Like anything else in marketing, measurement is key. When you talk to your attendees and ask questions about which features they like best, you do two things:
- Build rapport with your customers and their friends, so you’re more likely to get repeat sales and referrals
- Discover how to improve your event from year to year so you can build attendance and anticipation
During the event, make yourself available to attendees. Ask them questions about themselves and their business, and then delve a little deeper to see what they think about the event.
After the event, follow up with attendees by email or phone. Get their input to take to planning sessions for the next event. Surveys, too, are an excellent way to get data from customers, who love to be in on the decision-making process.
Here are some of the questions you can ask:
- Why do they attend the event?
- In what ways is the event useful for them?
- How does the event help them meet their business or personal goals?
- Do they have any suggestions for improvement?
Be sure to thank them for their input. If you do implement some of the suggestions they provided, be sure to follow up with them to let them know. Giving your customers a share of ownership in the event empowers them and builds more trust in your company and its leadership.
Make your customers’ event experience your top priority and watch your sales grow.