Webinars, executive round tables, seminars, and other events can be incredible tools for generating and nurturing leads and filling your sales funnel. This article defines the benefits of events and provides helpful guidelines for making sure your next program is successful.
Imagine the possibilities — a group of target prospects who have a problem you can solve or need information you can deliver. This is the dream of every marketing and sales professional, and it happens every day. A well-planned webinar, seminar or other corporate events can fill a room with qualified prospects and outstanding sales opportunities for your company.
Unfortunately, not all events are successful. With so many events competing for attendees’ time, even companies with a strong market presence can no longer announce a webinar and expect to attract hundreds of registrations. You may even wonder if events are overused and worth your marketing dollars. The fact that thousands of events are offered every week is a testament to the effectiveness of this marketing and sales tool.
Benefits of Events Marketing
Events can be used to achieve a wide range of business objectives, one of which is lead generation. A key benefit is that events can shorten the sales cycle. By responding to your invitation, registrants have expressed interest in your message. Essentially, they have pre-qualified themselves long before the event takes place. Attending your event can take the place of a first sales call — moving prospects down your sales funnel faster.
Some other important benefits include:
- Reaching many prospects in a short amount of time.
- Being viewed as a thought leader in your industry
- Convincing the audience you know your business (and theirs).
- Stimulating a buying atmosphere.
- Creating buzz for your products and services.
- Introducing and demonstrating new products and services.
- Creating joint marketing opportunities with your key partners.
- Integrating your marketing programs with your sales effort.
- Opening the door for future sales calls.
These benefits apply to a variety of online and offline events. With many outstanding Web conferencing capabilities to choose from, hosting a virtual event is easier than ever. The decision to host a Web versus an in-person event depends on a number of factors including your sales channels, audience location, lead time and more. If you have a local sales presence it’s hard to beat the value of a face-to-face event. However, for a geographically diverse audience, webinars are extremely effective.
Planning and Execution
You’ve decided to host an event, your sales organization is on-board and you’ve identified a target audience. Now what? Planning the perfect event takes more than knowing how to access an online meeting site or how many muffins to order. The elements that make an event successful are similar for every type of function — from a golf tournament for the executive crowd to a highly technical seminar for engineers. By following simple and common-sense guidelines, you can ensure a successful event that will create outstanding sales opportunities for your company.
- Understand the goal or purpose of the Event
- Know Your Audience
- Selection of the right Venue is vital
- Suitable Timing
- Draft a plan and follow the timeline
- Create content that attracts your target audience
- Design the message you want to share through the event
- Lead capture mechanism
For more details about each of the elements refer this article.
If you follow all of the guidelines, what kind of results can you expect? Average registration is usually between ½ to 1% of your total target audience, but can be as high as 5% in a highly targeted market. Actual attendance results are usually around 50% of all registrants but can be as high as 70% for a well planned, compelling event. How can you improve the results?
1. Invite your audience more than once.
- Send snail-mail and e-mail invitations.
- Send the same invitation more than once.
- Follow up on your invitations with tele-invitations.
- Have employees and salespeople extend personal invitations to their contacts.
2. Promote your event.
- Send press releases to be included in local business calendars.
- Publicize the event in your company newsletter or on your Web site.
- Distribute invitations at your next tradeshow.
- Send confirmation to each registrant.
- Send reminders several days prior to the event.
- Give registrants the chance to submit questions in advance.
Your results will vary depending on your individual market and your audience. After testing the waters and seeing how your audience responds, you can develop a reliable formula for your next event. For example, if you have a 4% registration response and 65% attendance, you will need 77 registrations in order to have 50 actual attendees. 77 registrations require a postal mailing of 1,925 invitations. You can ramp these numbers up or down, depending on your budget and marketing goals.
There are unlimited options for lead-generating and lead-nurturing event programs. The key is to determine what message you need to portray and then match that message to your event and audience. Attendees will become valuable prospects that will begin their progression through the sales funnel by responding to your event. Did you ever wonder why so many companies offer seminars and other events? Because they work!