13 don’ts of promoting your marketing events

Having worked with dozens of large, medium and small companies in planning and promoting their marketing events, I’ve learned what can make events succeed or flop. So when investing your time and money promoting your next event, consider these tips to avoid learning the hard way.

Events are a great way to increase leads and move prospects along the sales cycle. But you’ve got to promote them well to maximize the number of prospective customers who will attend.

  1. Don’t use a writer within the company just because they’re an employee, if they’re not up to the task. Freelance writers may get better results.
  2. Don’t hire a freelance writer who doesn’t have experience with direct marketing or promotional writing. Having an experienced writer will have a direct benefit in terms of attendance.
  3. Don’t assume your audience already understands the value of participating in your event. Provide thorough copy and detailed benefits to show there’s valuable information and that your event is worth the time and energy to attend.
  4. Don’t let grammatical errors or typos slip through.
  5. Don’t assume URLs, phone numbers, email addresses and directions are correct and working properly until you test each one.
  6. Don’t focus on selling the company, sell the benefits of the event to bring in the attendees.
  7. Don’t leave out positive comments from others who’ve attended.
  8. Don’t have a dull headline without clear benefits. Generate excitement and interest to make a good first impression. For example, “7 Marketing Mistakes That Can Cost You Big Bucks– and How to Avoid Them.”
  9. Don’t use formal invitations or postcards. Generally, registrations plummet with these types of pieces because there’s no room for details.
  10. Don’t wait too long to start promoting your event. Get on decision-makers calendars before they commit themselves elsewhere.
  11. Don’t promote too early, then fail to keep in touch.
  12. Don’t rely on only one method of communication. Emails get caught in spam filters for unpredictable reasons and direct mail may not be delivered properly or thrown out accidentally.
  13. Don’t forget to remind them your event is approaching as time draws near. Follow up with key prospects via telephone, and sending last-minute, “See you there!” e-mails to registrants.

Do you have any “Don’t”s to add? If you’ve worked on a project like this before, inevitably there’s something that could have gone better. Add a comment, I’d like to hear about it.

 

Should blogging be on your to-do list?

Company blogs have a place in the B2B marketing arsenal, but only under the right circumstances.

Marketing benefits

Blogs are usually more effective for enhancing brand image and awareness than they are for driving leads and sales.

Blogs establish expertise by giving the company a venue for sharing what they know about subjects related to the products and services they provide.

Some of the most effective business blogs are written by management personnel for business decision makers–it’s not just for the techies anymore. Regardless of their editorial focus, the best-read corporate blogs avoid hype and self-congratulatory content. Instead, they focus on content useful to readers.

To create awareness about your company, products and services, keep in mind that blogs tend to be found in the Web’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). That can go a long way toward helping your company be found by prospects who are actively searching for what you sell.

Your blog can also have a big impact on a potential customer moving through the awareness/inquiry/consideration/purchase cycle. When you find areas of confusion about the marketplace or can answer common questions prospects have, you are supplying the information needed to move to a purchase decision–anticipating the needs of those who haven’t contacted you directly.

Required commitment and resources

To gain and maintain readers, you need to keep your blog fresh. So you’ll need someone who has the expertise, writing skills and time to frequently post new blog content. How frequently?  Most bloggers are in the several-per-week to several-per-month range.  I recommend that you plan to post new content to your blog weekly to start. You can always turn up the frequency later, once you’re sure you have the ability to keep up the pace.

Are you ready for a conversation?

Blogs are inherently a two-way medium. Get ready for bluntly honest responses from delighted real customers as well as disgruntled naysayers. Yes, you can choose to disallow comments completely, but that removes the authenticity that you can build with a blog versus other ways of keeping in touch.

You can screen comments, which I recommend. But don’t immediately trash the comments that raise valid concerns and issues. These tough topics are key to showing that your company can handle doubts and respond to them, as well as listen to problems and resolve them. Skeptical prospects will watch and learn that you are listening, making you stand out from the crowd

I recommend that you consider blogging if you need a venue to demonstrate your expertise (branding) or are looking for additional ways to move up in the SERPs (for traffic). However, you should launch a blog only if you, someone on your staff, or an outsourcer can post regularly.

If you’re tasked with driving leads and sales, hand it off to someone else or put it on the back burner. There are plenty of marketing tactics that will have a more direct impact on the bottom line.

 

Use vertical marketing to generate more sales-ready leads

Imagine that you have a business problem and are evaluating companies to help you solve it. You can choose a generalist that claims to do everything for every scenario or an expert that focuses on solving exactly the kind of problem you have, for companies just like yours, with a track record of success.

I’ll bet you pick the expert, which demonstrates the advantage of vertical or niche marketing.

Whether you like it or not, your company is probably perceived by prospects as one of a large group of possible suppliers, perhaps one of thousands. This makes it a struggle to break through the noise. Prospects will find it difficult to determine whether your company may be their best choice.

The answer is to position and communicate your company’s expertise within particular verticals or niches. Rather than try to market to the whole world, pick particular industries, applications, geographies or companies of enough size that you are best suited to serve–then focus your marketing.

Get familiar with your market

Find out where decision-makers, recommenders and influencers from these companies hang out. What trade shows or conferences do they attend? What associations do they belong to? What newsletters or magazines do they read? What websites do they visit? Use what you learn to determine the best lists, databases and marketing tactics for delivering your lead generation messages to these key people.

Speak directly to your market’s needs

Next, create one-to-many marketing messages that look like one-to-one messages, and sales materials that directly address the vertical or niches you intend to pursue. Mention the specific problems and business pains they face. Use lots of key words and images in your materials to let these prospects know you are speaking directly to them. Even your slogan should speak to your target market. Examples include: “Specializing in accounting services for small and midsize retailers in the greater Chicago area;” “Software Solutions for the Restaurant Industry;” “The Healthcare Supply Chain Experts;” and “Retail Displays for the Wine and Beverage Industry.”

Use a variety of offers

Be sure to include lots of offers in your marketing materials, designed to elicit a response and start the sales process. Educational offers such as how-to guides, buying guides, white papers, case studies and invitations to events on relevant subjects are the basic tools for eliciting responses from prospects.

Consider multiple stages of the buying process

Consider tailoring your lead generation offers to appeal to people at different stages of the buying cycle. This could mean offering a white paper or executive information kit for prospects who are early in the process vs. a seminar invitation for those in the middle and a free consultation or needs assessment for those who are closer to being ready to buy.

Demonstrate your niche expertise

Leverage your certifications and other credentials, your client list and case studies that specifically address your vertical or niche market prospect’s industries or applications. And liberally season all your marketing and sales materials with testimonial quotes from happy customers in specific situations your prospect faces.

Vertical marketing will help your company be perceived as the right solution that your prospects need. The result will be a competitive advantage and more sales.

 

Remind your customers you’re around

I had a client whose marketing was not delivering the same level of sales it had in the past. The company had no direct sales force and no distributors, so their prices were about half their competitors. It sounds like it would be easy to grow your customer base when you can quote such low prices. Even if your company has a sales team or distributors, what they learned can improve your marketing too.

The problem was that their marketing was narrow. They would send out a catalog to anyone who inquired as a response to ads in trade magazines. After years of advertising, you reach a saturation point. The conversion rate was flat, as you can imagine.

They started a new initiative to distribute products by other companies. But how to get their target customers, primarily small businesses, to notice? To improve their marketing, they didn’t want to add cost or layers of labor. They were focused on effiency to keep their costs lower than competitors, after all.

Boost existing customer orders

You can keep the direct-to-client approach simply by reminding customers that you’re there for them. For example, expand existing accounts, do alternative mailings and schedule reminders about new products. It meets a customer’s needs better than just sending a catalog every year as well. And if you don’t keep in touch, customers may go to someone else that does stay top-of-mind.

These tactics can jump-start your sales:

  • Track existing customers for their product preferences
  • Regularly remind them about new products that might interest them
  • Send quarterly communications/newsletters
  • How about periodic free samples of new products?

What’s in it for you?

  • Significantly increase your company’s conversion of prospects to customers
  • Increase sales from existing customers
  • Save money in many areas
  • Then re-invest in additional marketing, boosting results even further
 
Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com