As part of our business we manage events for our clients. We do everything for them from event planning to event recruitment. Given this experience, I’ve developed 3 simple guidelines for deciding “if” to put on an event.
I am going to suspend, for now, the discussion of whether an event is a good idea or not. I will say this: I personally believe that if done correctly an event is a fantastic vehicle for generating leads and beginning/developing/nurturing new and existing customer relationships. However, my idea of an event is likely different than what you may be thinking — but we’ll touch on that later.
Let’s assume you are considering putting on a typical event with a speaker or two at a hotel or other facility about some technology solution. If I was your event planning company, here are the questions I would ask you in order to determine if an event is a right choice for your money.
* Are your reps committed to inviting new and existing customers? I mean, literally, are they going to spend time on the phone actually inviting people?
* Is your vendor partner going to actively invite people — and I don’t just mean that they are going to give you some half-baked list. I mean, are they going to *actively* invite new and existing customers and accounts?
* Are you and your reps going to follow up with each prospect?
An event planning company can do a lot to ease the workload for you but I have found that an event is only as successful as the involvement of you and your vendor partner. If you are not prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work, then your marketing funds are better spent somewhere else.
*Sometimes I lose a project this way but also earn their trust*.
Recently, a Sr. VP of Marketing and Corporate Communications also shared this with me:
” I would add this question: How long have you been in the geographic area and how well known is your brand? Typically a prospect will not take off part of his/her day unless they have heard of you (you have credibility) and/or your content and agenda is compelling enough for them to take a risk and sacrifice hours of productivity at work for your event. People are too busy to leave the office and your event better be worth it.”
Absolutely correct. This is the *WIIFM principle* — What’s In It For Me ? Why should they attend? If they don’t know you, why should they spend their precious time?
Plus, the way many seminars are put together they are more like product pitches than actual information and knowledge exchanges. So, again, if IT executives can review a product presentation on their own and over the web, why would they come to your event?
This is when working with a vendor comes in handy because you have to answer the question — “Are you a known entity and would they come to see you?”