When and how to hold a marketing event?

Marketing events are intended to inform your target group of customers about the products you offer. And not only that whether you offer a good or a service, the more important goal of the marketing event is to create an interest to purchase within your target customers. 

The marketing events are very diverse – seminars for presentation of new product, consumer conferences, conferences focused on technology or specific business issues in the sector you work in, product demonstration show…You may hold a marketing event in every format you find it appropriate to bring you closer to the above two goals – to inform your target group about your product or service and create a willingness to buy.

How to successfully organise a marketing event?

Gather the opinions of all interested parties in the company before proceeding with the preparation of the event. If you are new to the company – ask about existing company practices. Check what the business owners and management think and what results they expect. Consult the main operating managers in the company that are responsible for R&D, production, human resources, finance… If you consider more points of view, the marketing event will be a common business, not just an expression of your own ideas.

Prepare the marketing event as you plan a project – determine its specific objectives, what the target group is, plan its organisation carefully – budget, time, team for preparing it, participants in the event…

Inform your current customers about the forthcoming event. Invite them to attend the event. Ask them to bring their partners and their own customers… Motivate them to actively participate not only attend. Customers sometimes gladly give publicity to their successful projects and deals. This will be good PR both for them and for you.

Provide media coverage for your marketing event. Which media would be most appropriate to broadcast the relevant messages? Provoke their interest, meet them and light them up for the idea, make them become your media partners.

In every country there are appropriate online media where you could spread information about your planned marketing event. Look for your best online media partners.

It is very important that the message that you will distribute to the audience of the event is properly focused. The right people will come if you reach them with a right message. Explain what their long term and specific interest is to attend the event. What benefits they will have – as if they purchase/implement/apply the products you offer and specifically from coming to your marketing event. The participants in the event could benefit from it in various ways – you could offer them your product at a special price, you could provide a not paid trial period for your service of free of charge service (installation, training, etc.), you could meet them and let them talk without your intervention with your existing customers…

Another important factor is time. Make sure you fix a deadline to respond to your invitations but give your invitees enough time. If you invite representatives of large companies or government organisations, it will take more time to obtain permission to participate due to a more complex organisational hierarchy. Other time aspects are the day and the date of the planned event. It is not nice for a marketing event to be held on Monday or Tuesday, either immediately before or after a holiday. The evening events are well combined with cocktails and concerts, while the lecture programs are more comfortable with the morning hours. Verify that the date you schedule does not match your competitors’ scheduled event.

The team that will talk to the invitees on the phone should be well prepared to do this. Some companies hire external contractors to track their invitations. I am not convinced that this is the best approach because success depends on their communicative skills and the competence of the communicators. If the product and service you offer is specific or complex, it is better people from the company to communicate with the invitees.

Prepare good informational materials for the event, be helpful, be specific. It is not enough to just hand out standard flyers to the attendees. Try exceeding their expectations. Make CDs with presentations or print articles on the main topics of the event. If you have a special commercial offer to the guests, print it on paper with a different colour.  Be sure to explain what specific benefit will have the participants in the event. Give them a deadline to send requests or show purchase interest (for presentation of a specific product, meeting, use of a demo version…).

Prepare small gifts for each participant. Usual practice is to give away pens, desktop calendars, notebooks… but with more imagination you can be more original, and more useful. You can give business card holders or an interesting book in your subject area. Put yourself in the place of the participants in the event and think about what you would be glad to receive as a gift.

Take pictures of your most important guests. Make sure the photos are good enough. After the event, accompany your follow-up email with these photos – this is a nice gesture that will be appreciated.

Do not forget at the end of the event to analyze how many from the set goals have been reached. You should be able to measure results by the number of customers who have expressed a serious interest in purchasing your product and through the volume of sales realized. You will surely notice things that you have forget to do or you could do better. Learn from your mistakes.

Success with your event!

This article was initially published in Bulgarian on 29 December 2008.




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Pavlina D. Kozarova

Pavlina has worked for 20+ years as marketing specialist and business development manager for several Bulgarian and international IT and consulting firms.