Event marketing can be a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal. But only if you’re doing events the right way, with the right customers, at the right point in the customer journey. If you’re not, you’re likely to spend a lot of money and find yourself with not much to show for it.
What Is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is fairly straightforward: presenting a product, service, solution or promotion at a specific date and time, to a specific audience. It can include things like hosting a lunch or breakfast, presenting at a tradeshow or chamber of commerce lunch, or even online, such as a webinar or demo.
What makes events different from other marketing activities though, is that you’re asking prospects to commit to engaging with you at a specific time and place. There are consequences to asking for that level of commitment. First, the quality of what you’re doing becomes absolutely essential. If customers are going to take time out of their day to spend an hour with you, it better be worth their while.
Second, events are almost always expensive. Booking and staffing a booth at a major tradeshow is not cheap. And if you’re hosting a live event yourself, expect to spend up to $300 per lead you plan to invite. Those costs add up very quickly. So, if you’re using events as a major part of your marketing strategy, you should be thinking carefully about how you use them.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
To get real value from event marketing, start with clear goals. What are you trying to achieve with this event? Generate net-new demand? Educate prospects on a new service or solution? Up-sell or cross-sell existing customers? Accelerate opportunities that are currently in the sales pipeline? The type of event you plan, and who you invite, looks very different depending on your answers to those questions.
In too many cases, companies treat events as little more than a social activity, often in response to sales asking to drum up new business. Unfortunately, that approach rarely works. You can make some new friends, eat some good food, maybe spend a nice afternoon on the golf course. And there can be value to that type of basic relationship-building. But for the money you spend, you’re unlikely to generate real demand.
Events do offer an opportunity for a much higher level of engagement, but they should be part of a broader marketing strategy that extends well beyond that interaction itself. For instance, one quarter we will introduce a product to this type of audience. Next quarter, we are going to provide hands-on demos for these prospects at this point in the sales pipeline. Before you invest the significant resources to get a customer face-to-face, you need to make sure you’re focusing on those prospects where high-touch interaction will really make a difference in closing a deal or pushing it forward.