Many companies are looking to increase their presence at marketing events in 2014 – and goodness knows there are no shortage of organisers, eager to take your money. How can you set a clear strategy, and decide which ones are right for you?
Getting the best return from your events budget is part science, part art. Many companies simply stick with what they’ve always done, or the same shows where all their competitors are seen.
There’s nothing wrong with that, if it really suits your business objectives – but often, it won’t, and now is a great time to check. Follow these five simple steps when you’re choosing where to spend that budget, and you won’t go far wrong…
Step 1: Prioritise your objectives.
Before you even begin to decide which events you’ll attend, be very clear about what you want to achieve. Do you need contacts for your database, or to build brand awareness? Nurture existing relationships, or generate leads?
Of course, it’s all too easy to say “Yes – we want all of those”. So write them down, and force yourself to rank them in priority order.
Step 2: Think About The Format
Now, look at your list. What kind of event will give you the best chance of achieving your top priorities? For example, focused, meetings-based events could offer you guaranteed meetings with prospects, whereas large, trade exhibitions give you access to make initial contact a broader audience.
Step 3: Listen to your audience.
There’s a lot of useful research you can do without leaving your desk. Look at discussions in industry publications, and find out which LinkedIn groups your target market have joined.
If you have a list of potential customers, follow them on social media: you’ll get a great sense of the kinds of subject that interest them, and you might pick up some clues about which events they’re planning to attend.
Step 4: Define other criteria
Amid all the nuggets of information an event will offer you, work out which make a difference to your objectives. If brand reputation and smooth running are crucial, ask whether it’s run before, and who the other exhibitors are.
Likewise, if audience size and targeting is important, think about what kind of footfall you want to see, and whether it’s audited. Are the visitors so motivated they pay to attend?
Step 5: Plan Your Follow-up
No event will deliver a return in isolation: it’s important to understand where it fits in the bigger picture of your sales and marketing. In particular, once you’ve attended, made your contacts or held your meetings, what are you going to do next – to make sure that all translates into the biggest possible business benefit?
Preparing your follow-up well before the event means you’re ready to deliver in an impressive, timely way before you’re forgotten… and also means you can talk confidently during the show about when they’ll hear from you next.
We hope this gives you a good starting point for next year’s event decisions. However, if you’re still in two minds about something, we’ve loads of experience here at Outsourced Events, and we’re very happy to act as a sounding board. Give Denise Sharpe a quick call, on 0208 995 9495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.