To Market Events, Make Them Memorable

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Recognizing this, B2B marketing software provider Zaius found an opportunity that allowed it to stand out from other vendors at Shoptalk, the world’s largest conference for retail and e-commerce. The 2018 event, held in Las Vegas, attracted 7,000 attendees and 500 vendors, and Zaius caught the attention of them all by having puppies at its booth. The display offered more than simply the opportunity to pet or otherwise interact with the dogs, said Eric Keating, Zaius’s vice president of marketing.

Zaius partnered with the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a no-kill animal sanctuary. Zaius made a general donation to the Nevada SPCA, and conference attendees could adopt any of the dogs on display; Zaius even picked up the adoption fees for the dog that was mentioned the most on social media.

Adopted dogs walked off wearing Zaius bandanas, creating one more small yet memorable marketing opportunity.

“We didn’t have any deep business conversations that day,” Keating admits. “We just wanted people to become aware of our brand.”

Some viral events might cause plenty of buzz but not lead to additional customer engagement or sales. This wasn’t the case with the Zaius puppy promotion, according to Keating. Ninety-six percent of the leads generated on puppy promotion day were from the event, and the buzz around it continued throughout the rest of the show and beyond. Approximately 20 percent of the leads from the event turned into real sales conversations, and approximately 20 percent of those turned into business.

POST-EVENT MARKETING

Beyond sending quick thank-you notes, it’s a good idea to follow-up with additional information targeted to attendees’ specific interests as soon as possible after the event, with priority given to the warmest leads, marketers agree.

Too many companies conduct simple post-event data dumps with attendee and exhibit visitor information, but that is ineffective, according to Kern. Instead, companies should have a plan in place to handle post-event communications, with different communications preplanned so they can be quickly personalized for post-event messaging.

Clarabridge’s Cook says her team’s goal is to communicate with anyone who visited the company’s booth within 48 hours after an event ends. The exception is when an event ends on Friday, when the outreach would be on Monday. To prioritize post-event communications, Clarabridge uses a scoring system that includes extra points for prospects or customers who visited the booth, had conversations with Clarabridge sales reps, or attended product demonstrations, for example.

Bluecore also uses a scoring system, which enables marketing to measure the impact of the event in the context of other marketing activities to focus on replicating the touchpoints that drive the most engagement.

Simultaneously, sales teams should use this information to prioritize outreach to those exhibiting the most interest, as measured through the touchpoints, Cascone says.

The closer that a customer or prospect is to the bottom of the sales funnel, the more important it is to follow up with a personalized approach, Alexander adds.

Salesky recommends scheduling webinars and online meetings not too long after the physical events to build further rapport and provide attendees with more specific, detailed information about the products and services available.

But in the end, whether the event is a virtual seminar that occurs several times a year or a large annual trade show, you should track the effectiveness of the marketing efforts so that they can be refined for the next event, experts advise.

Kern says that post-event surveys can provide invaluable information about how effective the company’s booth and presentations were and how they could be improved. But in addition to assessing the effectiveness of booth position and size, for example, experts recommend taking into account more macro factors, such as overall market and economic conditions, event location, and competing events, when making such determinations.

Companies can also use the data to re-evaluate the events in which they should participate and to determine whether to add more online events or shift the type of events attended. Clarabridge, for example, has opted to focus its efforts on its own annual user event and smaller, more targeted trade shows rather than the large industry conventions, according to Cook. So far, it’s a strategy that seems to be working.

Phillip Britt is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. He can be reached at spenterprises@wowway.com.

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