Entries Tagged as 'B2B sales leads'

Pros and cons of in-person events for B2B marketing

In today’s hyper-connected world, there are good reasons for in-person marketing events such as “lunch-and-learn” seminars. The traditional style of building a relationship with a potential client required you to get in your car, get on a plane, or pick up the phone–and that’s what you need to do for an effective group discussion or simply to connect more directly with prospects.

If you’re choosing between remote or in-person, factor in the time needed to present the information, the needs of the customers or prospects you’re targeting, and the physical locations of attendees.

Live events can include:

  • Executive briefings
  • Breakfast meetings
  • Lunch-and-learns
  • Seminars

Pros of in-person events

  • You can hold your audience’s attention longer. Remote events should last no more than an hour, but with a live seminar or briefing you can provide more in-depth information. Users or technical decision makers who want to dive deep into the details of your solution may want that extra time. Live events are also effective for prospective buyers who are further along in their purchase cycle–they’re more willing to commit the time to attend.
  • You can show attendees more. Have an on-site tour, show how your product is made, or let attendees see how services are provided. If your facilities are impressive, prospects absorb the atmosphere of your company’s success. Alternatively, you can invite prospects to events at your customer’s site to see your products or services in action.
  • Your audience can meet you and your team, and vice versa. A live event gives prospects a chance to meet and make a personal connection with you, and to vet you and your staff.
  • Attendees can interact with your happy customers. You can invite satisfied customers to your live event and have them mingle with hot prospects. These customers often act as your ambassadors and help sell the prospect on the benefits of selecting your products or services.
  • You can gauge audience reaction. Are attendees staring into space? If so, you’re either moving too slowly or too fast. Switch your gears and now you’re connecting with them. At one seminar I gave recently, I saw two attendees whispering and nodding to one another when I made a key point. When I caught their eye, they told me that they understood the value of the recommendation but didn’t know how to “get there from here.” Their immediate feedback let me outline specific strategies and tactics, and it created the opportunity to talk later about how my services could help.
  • Your venue can be a draw. If you’re holding an event at an attractive facility–at a casino or on a yacht, for example–attendance may be higher simply because the venue itself is a lure.

Cons of in-person events

  • Live events can be more costly. Expenses for travel, meeting rooms, audiovisual equipment, attendee meals and refreshments, and parking can add up quickly. You’ll also need personnel to staff registration tables, meet and greet guests, and oversee event logistics.
  • They require a larger time commitment. Unless the event is being held at your site or your customer’s, you’ll both spend additional time traveling to and from the venue.

What factors do you consider? Please post a comment with any other pros and cons that have helped you decide to either hold a live event or “go virtual,” and I’ll let you know if I’ve got ideas on the topic.

 

When it comes to generating leads, do virtual events make sense for B-to-B marketers?

Think of a conference or tradeshow conducted online with presenters, exhibitors and attendees exchanging information and networking from the convenience of their computers.

These “virtual events” can benefit all parties. Attendees don’t have to travel, or even leave their offices. Neither do the speakers and exhibitors. This saves everyone time and money.

And the convenience of attending via their computer can boost the number of attendees significantly.

I think virtual events are great. Why? Because few of the conferences or tradeshows I want to attend happen in little ol’ Rhode Island. So if I want to attend I have to waste way too much time at the airport and on the plane, then again in the rental car or taxi line, trying to get there. Or I have to spend three or four hours taking an Amtrak train to New York City. Or I waste an hour and a half or more, both ways, driving to attend the event if it happens to come to the Boston area.

Compare this to what is involved in attending a virtual event: I block the time on my calendar. Then at the appointed hour I click on a link and attend the event via my computer.

The same goes for when I’m speaking or presenting at one of these virtual events.

Yes, it is sometimes good to get out of the office and network with clients and suppliers at in-person conferences, tradeshows or seminars. But often that means losing the day or more just getting there and back, not to mention the time away from my family. This makes me pretty selective about which in-person events I will attend.

I’m less selective about signing up to attend virtual events. Why? Because if I determine that the virtual event isn’t a good investment of my time, or the presenter is putting me to sleep, I simply close my browser and use that time for other things instead.

 

For additional strategies, tactics and tips related to using B-to-B marketing events to generate qualified leads and drive sales, check out the articles under the heading B-to-B events & trade shows at my website’s Learning Center for Marketers.

 

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.

 

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.

 
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