I recently attended a series of presentations on image and reputation for an awards programme that we run, and it struck me how much emphasis all of the businesses place on their events. For the presenters, each a well-known leading firm in the financial industry, their event strategy was a core element of their presentation about how they manage their reputation and client relationships, and they exhibited how they had harnessed the power of well developed and managed events to add value to their brand.
Yet, to a lot of businesses, in particular small and medium sized businesses, an event seems an unnecessary expense. There are financial implications, as well as personnel issues of time and the variety of skill sets required.
So why do these leading firms, with big budgets and sophisticated marketing strategies, invest so much importance into the events strategy? Because an event opens up a variety of opportunities to reach out and connect, and to create a memorable experience that strengthens their brand in the eyes of potential and existing clients.
Through a variety of natural means, you are creating opportunities for people to find out about you. Even if your event is a small one, you will need to create a substantial invitee list, which will no doubt include companies that know you and those that don’t. An invitation to an event is an unobtrusive way of letting people know you exist, without them automatically switching off to an overt sales pitch. Plus you are positioning yourself as an important player, someone with influence and knowledge in a particular field. If you are more broadly publicising your event, the opportunity for creating brand recognition is even greater – there is a subliminal power to putting your brand in front of people regularly that will make them feel they are more familiar with it. And you cannot forget the extremely important word of mouth, from those considering attending who may discuss it with friends, colleagues and associates, or even more powerfully those who have actually attended and want to tell others about their experience (hopefully a good one).
- Target audience
With an event you can speak to your target audience, by identifying and meeting a need or desire that they have, that isn’t associated with what you want them to do as a client. They may resist an overt sales pitch but be receptive to an invitation to an educational seminar on a new technology they are interested in. You are opening up the opportunity for a dialogue with them.
- Problem solving
An event built around addressing an issue facing your industry will position you as an expert, and warm your audience to your solution. By facing an issue as part of a wider audience, your attendees will feel less isolated, and more open to exploring how you can help them. By creating a forum for group discovery and making expert advice available, you are showing your audience that you are confident of your ability to help them solve their issues.
- Client interaction
By creating a chance for a face-to-face meeting you are opening a dialogue with a potential client, and making a connection with them. It may be that you are directly addressing an area of their concern, and that they may walk away feeling like you have the solution that they need. Or it may be that at a time in the future, when next they need your services, they will remember you and feel like they already have a relationship. In either instance, you are more likely to be the recipient of their business.
At the beginning, I gave the example of how companies with big budgets and sophisticated strategies are placing importance on events. The point I was making was not about the expense that they can spend on an event, but rather about how companies who can afford to get the best marketing and business strategists are utilising the power of events. Events are not the domain of the large corporation or the large budgeted. A well-developed strategy does not need to be expensive and the ROI can be extensive. In the coming weeks, I’ll review how small to medium sized businesses can take advantage of the considerable benefits of events, without needing to spend ridiculous amounts of money.
For help with your event strategy or management, contact Wendy at Wendy Marston Events, firstname.lastname@example.org.