By Christopher Aldred
**Editor's Note: Part 1 of this series explored the foundation of every successful continuous contact marketing strategy: email marketing. Part 2 looked at social media marketing . Part 3 focuses on event marketing.**
In a world where communicating via text, email and social media has become not only widely accepted but even the norm for how many businesspeople converse with one another, it’s easy to overlook or ignore the importance of face-to-face interactions. In fact, I’ve noticed a definite trend, even within marketing circles, of doing fewer and fewer marketing events, or even cutting them completely out of a marketing plan. If that’s the trend, I’m proud to say my CAR marketing methodology (Continuous contact, Alignment with sales, and Results-focus) is successfully bucking it.
Events aren't a very “sexy" topic, so you won’t easily find mountains of statistics out there one way or another on the subject. However, in September 2010, a white paper by B2B Magazine, “The Future of Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face," found three reasons live events continue to be an essential part of the marketing mix: in-person events are better suited for capturing attendees' attention, inspiring positive emotions and building networks and relationships.
If these reasons aren’t compelling enough, consider the following real-life example. One of our most senior sales representatives had spent several months chasing down a long-time customer regarding an upgrade. After many emails and conference calls, the customer still hadn’t moved forward. Nothing was “wrong" with the relationship, yet the opportunity seemed to keep stalling out. However, the customer’s primary contact, who is a frequent reader of my company's monthly email communications, registered for one of the company's quarterly "Lunch & Learn" sessions. After asking many questions and having conversations with several like-minded businesspeople after the event, he knocked on the door to our rep’s office and said, “Let’s get the paperwork together for that upgrade." Three days later, that deal closed to the tune of $82,000.
Thankfully, creating and holding successful in-person events is actually fairly easy to pull off and can be inexpensive to boot. There are all sorts of events your business can hold. Some examples include golf outings, wine and cheese tastings, “mini presentations" in a sports team luxury box prior to a game, etc.
Though these and many other types of events can be successful, I recommend that channel partners with limited budgets focus their time and energy on educational events with the caveat that they also include food. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, the key to the event’s success is enabling your attendees to socialize with your team and each other in a relaxed setting. This scenario can go a long way in building camaraderie, rapport and loyalty. I recommend scheduling events on a quarterly basis; more often usually proves unmanageable while less often negates the value of “continuous" contact.