Making Event Marketing Work for You

Most people hate to get pitched.

If you come away with only one message from reading this, let it be that. You decide to hold a marketing event either online or in-person. You think it’s going to be great. You’ll tell them all about your great new service offering. It will knock them out. Every attendee will rush to place their orders.

Yeah… not so much.

Trade Value for Time

When you invite people to an event, you’re asking them to give you some of their time. There’s really nothing people value more than they value their time. So if they’re going to give you some of their time, they’d better be getting something really valuable in return.

Knowing about your offering isn’t enough.

It’s the same reason you don’t want to mix news in with your blog. If people are going to invest their time coming to your event or your blog, and watching your presentation or reading your articles, their expectation is that they will come away with some new and valuable insight or knowledge. They want to learn something. How to make better decisions about a given topic. How to do something more efficiently. How to avoid various disasters.

They want to learn some kind of “how,” not “what” to buy.

What will happen if they don’t get what they expect? They may leave your session early. They’ll almost certainly never come back for another one. You’ve lost a prospect.

Also read: Why IT Firms Need Content Marketing

Making Your Event Attractive

Perhaps you’ve had the awful experience of sending out invitations to an event and receiving few or no responses. With every passing day the pain gets worse. And worse.

Marketers know that if this happens there are only a few possible things that could have gone wrong:

  1. Your timing was poor
  2. You used an outdated or poorly cleaned mailing list
  3. Your message missed the mark

The first is more an excuse than a reason. Many like to point at scheduled time of day, current events, recent disasters, phases of the moon. None of these really explain anything, but they may dull the pain. They won’t help you make better business decisions, though.

These days using a bad list just shouldn’t happen. The software used to manage these lists has just improved far too much for any reasonable source to provide poor lists. It can happen, but it’s less likely than it has ever been.

Missing the mark with your message is the likeliest problem. “How to Use Our Product to Solve Your Problem” themes will likely lead to disaster. In the minds of most potential attendees they can learn what they need about your product by visiting your website. There’s no reason to waste their valuable time sitting through a presentation. Yes, waste their time. To them, it’s just a waste. They don’t care. They really shouldn’t. Until they know your value proposition, why should your product be interesting to them?

See also: Remember to Promote Your Value Proposition

Event Planning is Simple – But Not Easy

So your greatest challenge in planning any event is to craft your message so that it delivers real value to your attendees AND it somehow aligns them with your offerings. Simple! Not so easy.

If you’re selling disaster recovery services, you want to amplify the likelihood of disasters occurring in their lives

Start by asking yourself, if you wanted the people you’re selling to be aware of anything, thinking about anything, what would that be? If you’re selling fire extinguishers, you’d want them thinking about how easy it is for a fire to get started. If you’re selling cleaning products you want your prospects thinking about dirt. If you’re selling disaster recovery services, you want to amplify the likelihood of disasters occurring in their lives. You’re selling data encryption, so you teach them why a firewall does not provide total protection all by itself.

You’re going to teach them something that relates to what your offering does. Not what your offering does, but something useful for them to know that relates to it. Simple! Not easy.

See the Top 15 Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) of 2022

Bad News Sells

Now it’s time to craft your invitation.

You have two opportunities to pull people into your invitation. The first is the Sender’s Name entry on your message. If they know who you are, and they respect you, they’ll open your message just because it’s you.

The second is your subject line. Resist the desire to exclaim how wonderful your message, your session, or anything will be. People are really not that attracted to good news. Sad, but true. Maybe it’s cynicism, maybe it’s just being too busy or too tired. Maybe it’s just a sad observation on the human condition. Whatever it is, good news really doesn’t grab attention. Bad news does. Or pain. Or impending disaster. People love those.

So you want your subject line to suggest some kind of awful occurrence that the audience will learn how to contend with when they attend your session. Might be a seminar, a webinar, a twitter-feed. Whatever. If the potential news is bad enough, people will be curious to learn more. That’s when we get to the last line of vulnerability.

When your subject line is so abjectly awful that the reader just has to open your invitation and read it, you only get one sentence to convince them they made the right decision by opening it. That first sentence, dubbed “the hook” in marketspeak, must amplify the hazard they’re going to learn to avoid or resolve simply by attending your session. If you get that right, they’ll scan the invitation and may even read it. Then they may even RSVP if you’ve made that simple enough.

Deliver More Than You Promise

Harvey McKay first encouraged us to “Mean What You Say, Say What You Mean, Deliver More Than You Promise.”

You can easily guarantee that anyone attending your session will never attend another by simply breaking your promise to teach them something of value. Don’t do that. Provide the information, the insight, and the advantage you promised in your invitation.

At the very end of your session you can remind the audience who delivered this valuable information without worry. The audience expects you to acknowledge who sponsored the event. If they want more value, here’s how to get it!

Imagine how great it would be if every event delivered real value. Be part of the solution – and you’ll win too.

Read next: The Channel Has Changed. Channel Marketing Needs to Catch Up

Howard M. Cohen
Howard M. Cohen
Howard M. Cohen is a 35+ year executive veteran of the Information Technology industry who writes for and about the IT channel. He’s a frequent speaker at IT industry events, including Microsoft Inspire, Citrix Synergy/Summit, ConnectWise IT Nation, ChannelPro Forums, Cloud Partners Summit, MicroCorp One-On-One, and CompTIA ChannelCon, and he frequently hosts and presents webinars for many vendors and publications.

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