If you’re a wealth manager, private office, in professional services, or providing technology that supports those sectors, or any other B2B service, then you know that business development is about relationships. We’ve put together eight strategies to maximise ROI for your events, and ensure that your investment delivers on your business objectives.
1. Understand the motivation for events
Trust in client relationships is built on impeccable service, listening and being in the same physical space. However professional your marketing activity, creating opportunities to meet in person really help you cement and build on those relationships. That’s why events should be not only a crucial part of your marketing strategy, but right at its heart.
2. Agree your event objectives
Every event begins with a strategic conversation: what are we trying to achieve?
Whether it’s meeting new clients and referrers, strengthening existing relationships, or sitting down with targeted clients in specific niches, it’s only when you establish exactly what you want to get out of your event activity that you can know what constitutes success and what you want to measure. This feedback becomes part of your follow-up and ultimate ROI calculation.
3. Appreciate the value of different types of events
Once you know what your objective is, you can decide what kind of event meets that need.
Different events deliver different results. Of course speaking at a conference builds your reputation in the market, and puts you in front of your potential clients. Attending events gives you access to someone else’s network, but there’s a degree of luck and networking expertise in who you might meet.
For providers to these markets, exhibiting and trade shows and conferences can put you right in the middle of your target market and let the media owner do the work of bringing them to you. But without timely and accurate follow-up, it doesn’t matter how much you spend.
Hosting your own client seminars, private dinners for specific groups, or client entertaining events give you the opportunity to be in the room with more people than you could see in an evening, offer clients and contacts expertise and insight, say thank you to your clients with an amazing experience, or give them access to your network.
4. Ensure superlative planning and briefing
For dinners and other seated events, think about the table plan. Is the CEO sitting next to the best lead at an appropriate level? Does the seating plan create opportunities for guests to meet new and interesting people? When attending industry events, have you checked the delegate list to work out who you’re targeting to meet?
For your own hosted events, is your senior team full briefed with guest bios, and full information on the event, venue and location, any special activities, and the all-important details on the wine list?
And don’t forget to plan with your team to ensure that they know exactly how many and which guests they are targeting conversations with and what they want to talk about.
Planning and briefing at this micro level will not only ensure that you meet your event objectives but also that you can accurately measure the all important results.
5. Does your live event communicate your brand proposition?
As a core part of the marketing mix, live events are an opportunity to underscore your brand values and subtly communicate your messaging to clients. New market entrant trying to position yourself as an alternative to a long-established City institution? Why not host your event at St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey. Want to demonstrate that you understand your UHNW cultured clients’ needs? Perhaps a sought-after sold-out private view at the V&A is the perfect event for your firm.
6. Maximise engaging experiences
Flawless organisation and administration is a given – events at this level are about bringing a “business development head” to the core of your event activities.
By giving clients great experiences, whether in terms of content, contacts or live events, you can help differentiate yourselves from your peers. You can use the opportunity of the event comms cycle – save the date email, quality print invitation, follow up calls, travel directions and digital thank yous – to engage with them, offer them more expert content and continue to deepen your connection.
7. Make events part of the sales cycle
By planning your events as part of your marketing activity schedule, you can not only ensure that you are able resource them well, but also that they are timed to guarantee that your team always have something appealing to discuss with clients.
Long event lead times are a must for C-level clients and guests, but also mean that your team can use the event when talking to new prospects or introducers, bringing a beautifully printed invitation out of their folder at the end of a meeting is a great way to keep the conversation moving in the right direction.
8. Best-practice follow-up
All the planning and execution is meaningless – well, guests may have had a lovely, unmeasurable time – without accurate follow-up.
Are your thank you emails / event photos / promised follow-up content sent with enabling technology that helps you track your hottest leads and who is engaging digitally? Do you have a follow-up protocol for returning from conferences and trade shows? Set up a checklist to scan business cards, add them to your database, follow them on Twitter or connect with them on LinkedIn, or send them an email (ideally linked to your sales CRM) suggesting a next step from your conversation.
Make sure you compile an Event Lead Sheet with your team the next day. Heads may be sore, but memories will be clear, and assessing the value of potential new business against the event investment will give you accurate, measurable results to track and follow-up on.
These eight strategies can help you take your events from “just fun” to engaging, measurable marketing activities that truly impact your bottom line.