Entries Tagged as 'Events & trade shows'

Make the most of your marketing events

You may have a number of live seminars, workshops, webinars), videoconferences, trade shows and speaking engagements planned for future months. Here is a short summary of how best to use events to drive sales and revenue.

– Leverage other marcomm tactics such as direct mail, email and telemarketing.
– Speak or exhibit at others’ events, saving the time and expense of running it yourself.
– Use events to move known prospects along the sales cycle, rather than focusing on those who are new to your company.
– For mid-stage prospects, use “bite-size” events, such as “lunch and learns,” “executive breakfast briefings,” or webinars.
– For hot prospects who have already indicated they are close to buying, offer events that will give them details they need to make the final decision.

I go into more detail about this making the most of events in your marketing plan in my article What role should events play in your marketing plan?

 

Better ways to qualify leads at the trade show

You’re on the trade show floor, ready to make the most of the time and effort it took to get there. People drift in and out of your booth throughout the day and you’ve got to quickly judge who’s a hot lead and who’s not.

The trick is to start a conversation that will help you determine if a visitor is a qualified sales lead. The best way to do that is by asking questions.

Typical closed-ended questions such as “May I help you?” get you useless answers like “No thank. Just looking.”

So start off with an open-ended question like “Out of all the places you could be today, why did you choose to come to this show?” or “With all the exhibits you could visit this afternoon, what brought you to ours?”

Then keep the conversation going by turning your typically closed-ended questions about budget, authority, need and timing into open-ended questions. For example, ask “How does this kind of purchase get funded at your company?” and “Who all is involved in the decision process, and what are their roles?” and “What problems are you trying to solve?” and “When do you think you’ll be making the decision to go ahead?”

And one last tip…

If you have determined that a visitor to your trade show exhibit isn’t qualified, but he continues to monopolize your time, end the conversation quickly but politely. How? By handing her a brochure while saying something like, “Here’s some additional information about our product that you can review back at the office.” Next say “Thanks for stopping by.” and shake her hand. Then turn and walk away.

 

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.

 
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