By Lara Pryor
When I ask partners about their marketing campaign strategies, the No. 1 response is, “We have an event planned.” I cringe a little every time I hear that because of a simple truth I’ve learned over the years: An event is not a campaign.
While events are often seen as a sure answer to all marketing and lead-generating needs, they do not represent a sound, comprehensive marketing strategy. There is much, much more involved.
Don’t get me wrong — events are a great way to meet customers, share your message, introduce solutions and demonstrate value to both prospects and current customers. But ensuring investments pay off and goals are realized requires a lot of advance preparation prior to kickoff.
My advice: Start well before game day or risk spending a lot of time, money and effort for naught. This is where campaign planning comes into play.
As a longtime channel-partner marketer, I’ve come to realize that a sound strategy encompasses many elements that often go overlooked. Such oversights inevitably lead to teams that are frustrated because the hefty price tag for an event yielded little ROI.
Before planning another event, here are three best practices to consider:
- Know your audience. Ask yourself: “Who should hear my message?” “What specific customers within a vertical am I targeting?” “What specific departments, titles, and business or technical decision makers should be engaged?” There is only a small window to achieve your goals, and you want to be as targeted as possible, so get laser focused on audience.
- Know your message. What do you want to share? Is it a solution, a product, a vision? Once determined, ensure the message is delivered through the most efficient and effective method possible. Messaging can be conveyed in several ways, including email blasts, advertisements, article placements and social-media outlets. The right mix of delivery methods is key.
- Determine your desired outcome. To attain your goals, they must first be defined. Do you aspire to gain the trust of existing and new customers? Or, do you want to demonstrate your knowledge about a solution or product?
Bottom line: Your objective should always be uncovering leads that can be nurtured into closed deals. Define a number. Set it high enough to make you a little uncomfortable, and then make it happen!
After these three aspects have been determined, it’s time to turn to messaging. Consistency is essential across all mediums, whether online, in person or print. When preparing your outreach, consider the following:
- Social media: Content should be “bite size,” something to turn heads but not give away the secret sauce. This content should be for both brand awareness and to compel people to click through to your website or a specific piece of information. It’s even more powerful to have others share or retweet your content — that’s both free exposure and extending reach beyond your direct network.
- Email nurture: A series of emails, or a “drip campaign,” serves up content in chunks that draw the reader in gradually. By the time your prospect reads the second or third message, and you have the analytics and the scoring to demonstrate they have digested content, paid a visit to the website, downloaded a whitepaper or taken another action, you are ready to invite them to your event or reach out in some way.
- Account calling: There is still nothing better than a simple phone call with a personal message inviting your prospect to an event. Tailor that call based on the actions a lead has taken with your social media and email nurture. That shows that you have been paying attention, that you as a partner have done your research before calling, and that you know enough basic information about customers to have a meaningful conversation about what their technology and/or solution needs might be.
When It’s the Big Day
The moment you have been planning for has finally arrived! You have your registered guests, the venue lined up, the AV, catering, agenda, speakers, content, giveaways and name tags squared away. The day goes exactly as planned, not a single hiccup. Best-case scenario is that everyone shows up – this is a dream of every marketer – but most likely you have 50 percent turnout, which is typical, so don’t fret.
Now that it’s over, you take a deep breath, and the sales team congratulates you for a well-thought-out event, even though you know much more went into making this day a reality than ordering lunch. You then work with your sales team to have every registrant/attendee uploaded into your CRM/Salesforce tool.
Next steps are to start again from the very beginning of your campaign, only this time with follow-up messaging to each and every person, whether they attended or not. Of course, there should be different messaging for those who couldn’t make it. Also, include a social media and email note, as well as a personal call to solidify new relationships.
With a little bit of TLC and diligent cultivation, the fruits of all of your labors will start to flourish in a big way.
Lara Pryor is director of partner marketing at Armor, a cybersecurity company that keeps sensitive, regulated data safe and compliant in the cloud.