Marketers: Our world is moving fast.
We’re way beyond just trying to build business relationships online. Our audiences are scrolling blindly past display ads and ignoring marketing emails. It’s the truth — consumers are getting harder and harder to reach, and traditional marketing methods just aren’t going to cut it anymore.
But there’s hope: The smartest marketers in the world know that consumers respond to human, in-person experiences. According to new research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 93 percent of companies consider hosting events for customers and prospects as a priority, and over half of marketers believe events to be the most effective marketing channel. These brands are investing in event marketing, and mixing it strategically with their other marketing efforts.
So, why are the fastest-growing companies investing in events the most? Because events work effectively at every stage of the buyer’s journey — top, bottom, and post-funnel. Here’s how.
1. Drive brand awareness and new leads
Great events create memories. No matter what stage of the buying process they’re at, they’ll feel connected to your brand way beyond the event.
Whether exhibiting at a trade show, sponsoring an event, or creating a fully immersive customer experience, events reach a lot of people — and the right people. It can make your audience want to engage with your brand during the event (in-person and on social) and long after the event (those who undergo a live brand experience tell an average of 17 other people).
Think about it: When you’re hearing about a new product for the first time via a Facebook ad, or experiencing it yourself at an event — which would you be more likely to talk to your friends about? If events aren’t part of your lead generation strategy, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunity to engage your target market.
2. Make the sales process more effective
Face to face beats the phone every time.
We know the power of digital marketing and so does most of our audience. But accelerating sales cycles and driving pipeline is what events do best. Whether it’s an intimate VIP dinner or a satellite event at a conference, events provide a space for sales and marketing teams to connect with prospects, provide a human touch to the sales process, and be the final nail that closes the deal.
Additionally, think about all the powerful event data you’re capturing from your events and how you can leverage it in the sales process. In your RSVP forms alone, you can capture everything from company name and title to their favorite cocktail. You can take it even further — integrate your event technology with your CRM or automation tools and you can instantly notify a team member in real time of a key prospect arriving to an event. Then, if you’re fortunate enough to have great on-site event tech, you can have that cocktail delivered to them instantly when they arrive. Or, if you’re a retailer, you can personalize post-event communications based on what they bought at your pop-up event.
And now that events are just as measurable as digital marketing, you can connect it all back to revenue.
3. Build community and customer engagement
Events aren’t just a way to engage with prospects — they’re also an effective way to create loyal customers.
Whether it’s user groups (where customers can engage with each other and your product), a conference (educational content around an industry or a product), or a loyalist customer event at a store (geared toward building brand ambassadors), events are a key way to keep your customers engaging with your brand.
The HBR study cites Eric Stahl, senior vice president of product marketing for Salesforce’s Integration Cloud business on the software company’s investment in events: “Events are just a big part of our marketing effort. They’re one of our top tactics for attracting and connecting with customers.”
For business-to-business matters, this can greatly impact renewals or retention rates. For every business, this ensures happy customers, more referrals and more future spending.
4. Events get the right people in the room
Why are events so effective at targeting every stage of the funnel? With the right promotions, targeting strategy and event technology, events allow you to target a hyperspecific group of people and bring them all into one physical room.
If you sell a product, who is the ideal buyer? What is their seniority? Who will most likely be the power user? Has a lead gone cold? Is an opportunity near closing? Which account has the highest potential value? Determine your target audience and your goal, then tailor your event strategy to them.
After all, you control the invites and the guest list, you can invite and segment whomever you want. And the ones who show up? They’re invested enough to potentially make an impact on your goal.
Ben Hindman is chief executive officer and cofounder of Splash, a New York-based event marketing agency.
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