Today as I glance through the calendar, I realized that there are barely(!) two weeks left for 2018 – that means even fewer holiday shopping days for you procrastinators. It gave me a moment to look back at the work of our marketing department and see where we may have made an impact in 2018.
Sure, we have been busy with website maintenance, updating sales materials, creating social buzz, deploying demand gen programs and using data driven tactics to qualify our prospect audience but I feel that it has really been our event activity that has made the biggest impact in 2018. Events are an essential marketing tactic for any business. They have shown to provide a positive effect on relationships with customers, as well as increase visibility and improve professional connections for your business.
In today’s buyer-empowered world, marketers need to seize every opportunity to build relationships, generate goodwill, and earn the trust of prospective buyers and current customers. The modern business wants more than a pitch when evaluating solutions or making purchasing decisions. They want to understand your organization, the impact that you make on existing customers, your culture and get a look under the hood before they commit. At MeritDirect, our client engagements have an average tenure of 10 years, so we understand that the decision-making process is important. We put an enormous amount of thought into our events as a way to communicate our solutions to prospects as well as to create goodwill among our client community.
From venue selection to content vetting, every step of planning your event speaks volumes about your business and the message you are trying to send. Here are my top tips for you if events become part of your 2019 plan:
Prepare, plan, pray
Get way ahead of your event and create a timeline early on. There is much to think about: venue selection, room attrition, invitation, registration, entertainment, theme, décor, signage, agenda, collateral, speakers, goal alignment, gifts, giveaways, VIPs, menus… That’s only a fraction of it. You need a solid and dependable team in place and to be prepared to delegate. Events are not run by one person, you need a strong team to execute. No matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong at some point — I guarantee it. Minimize risks by planning as much as possible as early as possible so any unexpected hiccups are quickly and easily addressed. Then hope for the best!
Content is king
Be sure that subject matter and style match your target customers’ needs. It’s a good practice to reach out to your account management team (or your client’s directly) to get a feel for what topics are of most interest, common pain points or changes that are impacting their clients’ business. Ensure that current and future industry trends are covered, through engaging keynote speakers and thought leaders with experience in the subject matter. Bring truly executable ideas to your delegates that they can employ right away rather than just statistics and facts. Real solutions come from action.
Make it an event – not just a conference
When we ask executives to leave their busy desks for a few days, we have a responsibility to make it worth their while and not more work. Your agenda needs to offer the right balance of education, entertainment and ‘down’ time so that your attendees feel empowered at the end of your event without feeling overwhelmed. Also, ample time for networking allows professionals to expand their professional circles and have relevant discussions with peers across industries or verticals.
Your event content is perfect for repurposing. If you record your sessions or use handouts to establish a case study, that material is great for post-event communications. Keep your attendees engaged by sharing the content as it becomes available in a gated or exclusive environment for attendees only. It is also valuable for the prospect community that was unable to attend as it provides a great representation of the event. And get feedback! Ask your delegates what they liked, what they didn’t like so that you are always learning and improving before your next event.
After all of this talk of stress and hard work, I would be remiss to skip the rewards at the end for a job well done. The amount of effort you put in will make you feel incredibly accomplished when it all comes together. To know that your prospects are hearing your message, understanding the breadth and scope of your business and knowing that your clients are grateful for insightful sessions, enlightened conversations and are leaving armed with solutions, is a reward in and of itself. Nothing compares to the amazing feedback we get from our guests, speakers and staff which helps me remember why it is all so worth it.
I hope to see you at a MeritDirect event soon.
Vice President, Marketing
If you’d like to talk about MeritDirect events or pick my brain about events in general, send me a note!