“If you build it, he will come” was the message that made “Field of Dreams” a great movie, but it is not a smart event recruitment strategy. Too often, organizers of trade shows, conferences, seminars and webinars focus on “day of” event details, overlooking smart pre-marketing. But if an event is going to generate good leads, conversion and ROI, enough of your best prospective clients need to attend.
The following 5 marketing steps will attract your ideal attendees and produce a great turnout.
1. Define the Business Purpose of Your Event
No event should be just a “we’re here!” statement. What do you hope to get out of the event? Leads for further sales or new clients? New members? What kind of sales, clients or members? Be as specific as possible. Develop SMART goals based on your answers.
2. Identify Your Ideal Attendees
Now that you know what your company plans to achieve, identify measurable characteristics of your ideal attendee. Consider such things as the size of his or her organization, need for your product or service, and the likelihood of purchasing or signing up. Clearly defining your target audience will help you develop a pre-qualified list of prospective attendees who are more likely to attend and benefit from the event, and ultimately buy from your company. Start building your list from current clients and attendees of similar events.
3. Develop and Implement a Detailed Marketing Plan
What are all the possible ways to reach your ideal attendees? Emails or traditional mailers? Social media? Advertising? Make sure attendees are able to find your event through as many channels as possible given your budget and labor constraints. Advertise early and often. And like any marketing, include essential event details, benefits to the ideal attendee, and a registration call to action.
4. Connect Personally
Do not just rely on impersonal marketing. No matter how well designed or implemented your marketing plan is, people ultimately respond best to people. Call your prospects. Make them feel like they are wanted. Be prepared to answer their questions and address their concerns about the event. If you don’t have time to do it internally, outsource the task to a tele-services company.
5. Make Registration Easy
In the post-Amazon.com era, buyers at every level expect a convenient purchasing experience. Implement a simple, quick, online registration process. If attendees are required to pay for the event, be sure to include options for credit card and check payments, as well as invoicing, to provide flexibility for clients with differing expense management processes. Also provide a phone registration option for those who prefer to speak to a human being or who may have questions. Offer an “early bird special” for pre-registration.
These 5 steps are common sense, yet they are too often neglected. It is understandable, especially with large, complicated events because there are usually a lot of details to juggle! But ultimately, your event will be successful only if enough of your ideal attendees show up, those who will ultimately convert into clients. Smart, strategic event recruitment is the key.
Photo credit: drinks machine / Flickr
About the Author: Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies, and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.