“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
Marketing continues to undergo transformation under the onslaught of technology. One-on-one marketing has given way to online marketing and ever hipper means for online marketing continue to emerge. There are efficient testing and measuring methodologies in place for assessing the comparative and absolute efficacy of marketing campaigns using internet and media. Events though have a different purpose. Events are a way of opening communication or building relationship with someone. They bring you interaction with and feedback from your target market. Events are the quickest means to reach a carefully chosen audience in a deliberate setting.
It is important to put together an event strategy no matter the size of a company. The event strategy usually comprises hosting, sponsoring, or attending events. Discerning which of these best suits your business in a situation is an important decision. When appropriately planned and executed, events are an extremely effective marketing tool for a company. A well administered event is an investment in the future. However, an event is never an isolated occurrence. In order to be productive, it has to go together with the overall marketing strategy of a company.
Today there are so many tools for marketing available and various alternatives make a compelling case to get your marketing dollars. Therefore, you have to be very clear about what you want your event strategy to achieve for your business. It is the meticulous attention and preparation that goes into every step that differentiates a great event from an ordinary one. Here are the some of the points to bear in mind while devising the event strategy for your company.
- Create an event strategy that best suits your business – its goals, means, strengths, products, and target market.
- Avoid herd instinct, just because most people in your industry are participating in an event does not make it the best fit for you.
- Also, in our fast-changing times, an event that worked extremely well five years ago may no longer have the same market pull.
- Look at your sales plans and business goals before you start out to define what events you will target to host, sponsor, or attend.
- Time your events to match the launch of major marketing initiatives like new products or customer announcements.
- Focus on the entire experience of the target audience – from the first point of contact with your team, your brand, your products till the post-event follow-up. Engineer the perception at every step.
- Always plan and execute your events around what makes you unique and delivers value to your customers.
- Always track the achievement of objectives from your event in the form of face-time with select audience, starting relationships, feedback on products, leads, new sales, and general perception.
THE DECISION TO SPONSOR
Your decision to sponsor or run a booth or a show at an event should be driven by the value-added marketing opportunities it brings to you. It must also lead to economic profit for your business -through a boost in sales, a boost in image, a boost in recognition etc.- as conference organisers usually end up making good money from sponsorship fees etc. Sponsorship can involve opportunities for prominent advertisement both onsite and online as well as affiliate marketing, access to event attendee lists, hosting or attending hospitality functions, speaking slots, and press releases. Think clearly what your company brings to the event or conference you are participating in. In terms of market context is it the right platform to present your products or services?
Let’s now look at some of the most common types of events and the role they can play in your marketing strategy.
- TRADE SHOWS
Trade shows are an effective tool for generating sales as well as enhancing recognition of your products and your brand. In order to leverage this tool well, a great deal of thought has to be put into selecting the right trade shows and planning all the necessary requisites. The first and foremost question is, will you reach the target audience?
Seminars are often useful in industries such as financial services, advisory, technology etc. Make sure that your seminar’s agenda is a big draw for the target audience. If you are hosting a seminar, make sure you complement it with a meal or a cocktail before or after the seminar. This provides networking opportunities and enables further discussions and relationships.
Conferences are a good opportunity to use executive participation. These provide interaction with the peers as well as the buyers. Hosting a conference is your company’s opportunity to set the stage for leadership. Other ways of using a conference as a part of your event strategy could be co-sponsorship or participation in business and hospitality sessions.
- ROAD SHOWS
Road shows are meant to launch new products, services, or transactions. Provided you have a robust selling proposition; Road Shows are highly effective as they provide multifaceted coverage through speaking, exhibition, hospitality, publicity, direct marketing, and public relations.
These are usually industry events in which you can participate as a sponsor, an exhibitor, or an attendee. They are ideal for presenting innovative or next-generation solutions.
Roundtables provide with a unique relationship building atmosphere and you can use them to target senior executives from your target market and partners. These should be white service events hosted in a first-class location.
Meetings are generally used to engineer peer-to-peer interaction to make or validate decisions. Meetings can be both external -e.g. annual general meeting- and internal e.g. executive off-site.
- ONLINE EVENTS
Hosting online events (webinars, video-conferences etc.) provides you with a great opportunity to educate people about your products or services without pulling them out of their offices.
- MEAL FUNCTIONS
Use them as valuable networking opportunities without featuring a manifest sales pitch. You can often host a hospitality event by piggybacking on another major conference or trade show. You can also host hospitality events -such as cultural shows or musical programs- for pure entertainment.
- SPORTS EVENTS
You can also use sports to bring your target audience together. For example, a golf tournament involving executives from your target market.
(For help with your event please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org)