Event Marketing is Great, But Where are the Conversions?

Event marketing is, in many ways, content marketing you can touch. Can you apply methodologies from content to acquire, nurture and close new customers from events?

I’ll show you how you can apply familiar content marketing strategies to your event marketing to increase the number of converted customers, the speed with which they convert, and the overall user experience.

Product tie-in must be seamless.

The best content and event marketing will compel guests to explore the product themselves, with your message as a guide.

You want your event experience to be memorable, unique, high-touch, and frictionless–but it should also support your product. If you venture too far onto the sales side of the spectrum you sacrifice the soft approach that you want from your events. Too far toward experience, and you’re just throwing a party.

“We are always looking for ‘that’ event that is going to really catch people’s attention, stand out, and convince them to show up,” says Alex Beaton, marketing specialist at Centre Technologies. “Working in the IT field, I’m constantly dealing with a relatively saturated market. A customer can choose to go to a variety of different vendors that will offer the same products and services – so how do we make ours stand out?”

Alex heads up all marketing efforts, including 12 quarterly events in Houston, Dallas, Austin and New Orleans. Events range from large all-day conferences and smaller, more unique events.

“A good example of balancing experience with product tie-in was our recent event Centre Connect,” says Alex. Her team hosted their customers during the day for several different product sessions, then invited them for dinner and batting practice at Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros) with their families.

“We encouraged guests to come and learn, but relax in the evenings. It allowed us to really build that relationship with our customers and get to them on a much more personal level–hopefully converting to more sales down the line.”

Don’t let a guest go untouched.

Generating personal moments for every guest is the key to driving sales. An attendee who floats through your event picking up freebies and never speaks one-on-one with someone from your team is a wild card: you didn’t learn anything about her, and she didn’t have a memorable time that includes your message.

“An event should never be just one touch point with a customer, it should be a minimum of 5. That’s what drives sales.”

Alex says that every part of the event is viewed as part of the experience: from the invitation (she mentions emails, creative invites like putters for a golf outing or baseballs for a batting practice) to the follow-up after the event (commemorative DVD of the guest batting or a custom pair of cowboy boots).

More on intimate experiences at larger events? See how Kristi Casey Sanders, the VP of Creative/Chief Storyteller at Plan Your Meetings, created a personal experience for her guests with sponsor speed dating.

Perfect the many handoffs.

Event marketing and content share ownership between marketing and sales.

The marketing team creates the asset/experience, then hands off a customer to sales. Marketing’s asset or experience is a support mechanism for the activities of sales.

This creates complexity if the two teams get anything less than an A+ on communication. “Being able to track everything from the first touch point to the sale is crucial,” says Alex.

To maintain a connection between what marketing creates and what sales executes at an event, Alex creates CRM campaigns for “just about everything–call campaigns, email campaigns, lead campaigns through third party vendors, and campaigns through manufacturing partners.”

Keep evaluating, and use feedback as a sales tool.

With all the moving pieces and a dense event schedule, the real success of your programs can get lost in the mix. As a content marketer, I know well how paralyzing evaluation can be when we keep producing pieces and sharing them on multiple channels.

The key to both? Get feedback from all angles.  Alex focuses on delivering measurable results.

“My expertise lies with creating engaging events that yield sales.”

  • Alex sends a survey to gauge the experience of each event. Surveys go to staff members of Centre, partners/sponsors and customers.
  • She holds “debrief” sessions internally to have an open conversation about the positives and negatives for each event.
  • She checks her CRM and run reports the week after an event, a month after an event, two months after, and even three months after to show ROI and justify the marketing spend.

Content marketing and event marketing are intrinsically tied, effective when used in tandem, and driven by the same understanding of human behavior. Let’s embrace the similarities between these two programs and continually re-evaluate them.

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