Running events can be costly. But if you get it right, you will successfully publicise your company and your products or services, attract good quality visitors and grow your customer base. This will all add up to a positive return on your investment.
As the world slowly starts to open up, how can you be sure you are optimising your events in 2022? Here’s how to use your events to get a great return.
Choosing an Appropriate Format
As the country has gone in and out of lockdowns, the business world has had to adapt. People have still needed to “meet” to do business, so the virtual event has become very popular. Webinars and conferences held over Zoom became the norm during the height of the pandemic and helped businesses to make the best of the situation.
You may consider that virtual events will continue to be the best option for you during 2022. But there does seem to be an appetite to get back to as near normal as possible, and for many, there is a strong desire to renew face-to-face interactions. Many events are therefore once again taking place in person. Fears about the virus seem to have diminished, and people are beginning to get back to work, are holding meetings and attending exhibitions and conferences.
“Zoom fatigue” aside, the event type you choose may depend on what you sell and how easy it is to digitally demonstrate the benefits to potential customers. Showing how software works using an on-screen demo is far more practical than selling something that needs to be experienced or tried on first-hand, like a new car or a pair of shoes, for example.
One alternative is to run hybrid events. These have a combination of both live and virtual elements, meeting the needs of those in each camp; those who want a physical, in-person event, and those who prefer to meet virtually.
For an added safety net, you could take a contingency approach and arrange hybrid events. Then, if the situation changes and restrictions return, you can then run them as entirely virtual because you will already have put in place the technology and infrastructure to do that.
Identifying Your Target Audience
Accurately pinpointing your target audience is the first step to ensuring your event is successful. With a detailed view of who they are, what they do, and which media they consume, you can more easily reach them and promote your event to them.
Too many companies settle for a scattered approach, thinking that it is best to target all and sundry. But with a more focused analysis, you will likely find that there are some target demographics that more regularly buy from you, or where you can more plainly demonstrate benefits for a certain sector.
This will also help input into your decision making. What event types do these people like? Do they go to large exhibitions, or will they prefer local roadshows and roundtables? Will you get more of your target audience to attend a webinar than at a conference?
Once you’ve researched your target audience, creating even more precise customer personas can help with fleshing out more detail about who you are targeting.
Promotion and Marketing
It’s not enough to create an event and expect that people will turn up. To ensure that you get a good number of attendees, you need to promote your events well. If you’re attending an exhibition, then the organiser will do some of the promotion work, but even here, it is vital to do some of your own marketing too.
Where should you be marketing and promoting your event? The answer is: everywhere and anywhere you can. Email your own database, issue a press release, include it in your corporate email signatures, write a blog post about it, put a banner or page about it on your website, use your social media platforms, publish a podcast or vlog, mail contacts directly, and consider paid advertising opportunities.
You need to maximise the number of times that a prospective visitor hears or reads about your event. In this way, it is reinforced over time. If they had intended to get around to booking onto your workshop or webinar, and then they forgot, your renewed prompting may be the difference as to whether they book or not.
Event planning and management is all about getting the details right. Perhaps you’re attending an exhibition and need to consider your stand. If it’s been a while since you last exhibited, you might want to have new exhibition stands or panels made, to update them with any new products or services, or messaging.
It’s important to carefully plan for the resources you will need. You will need people to cover the stand during the show, or to welcome attendees coming to your presentation.
Another aspect to attend to is getting your messaging right. Much of this comes down to what your objectives are – what you want to inform your visitors about and what you want them to do after your event. Your customers’ needs may have changed during the pandemic too, so ensure your customer research is up to date and that your services or products are really meeting their needs.
Don’t forget to plan for contingencies. What will you do if there is another lockdown or future restrictions? Can you easily switch to an online backup plan?
Turning Prospects into Customers
Typically, the end goal of an event is to turn your visitors or viewers into paying customers. You may need to nurture them a little, or warm them up slowly, but however short or long your sales cycle usually is, it’s certain that you need to have a follow up plan.
Following up after the event might entail sending a copy of the slides they viewed, inviting them to a related event, or sending a brochure or promotional freebie.
And if your event contacts are not already subscribers to your email list, then invite them to join, so that you can continue to stay in touch. You can then send them your email newsletter, or send them your white papers, ebooks and case studies.
How well and how often you follow up will determine whether you make the sale. There’s no magic formula to this – it will depend on your customers, your business and what you sell.
Ultimately, although events can be costly and take time to thoroughly plan and prepare for, they can generate excellent returns if you optimise them.
By reaching your target audience, you will increase your company’s exposure and promote your product or services to new prospects. Through conferences and speaking events, you have an opportunity to build credibility and thought leadership. And along with exhibitions, trade fairs, road shows, seminars, hospitality, roundtables and webinars, these events can all offer the chance to start relationships with new customers that will boost your future sales.
If you are considering new ERP software soon, then don’t miss out on our own events this year: