Participating in live events can infer a number of benefits for companies, whether they are hosting, co-hosting, or simply attending. In a hosting or support capacity, an event organizer has the opportunity to gain visibility and prestige, improving a corporate image within the industry, among peers, with guests, and perhaps even with the public to some extent.
This, in and of itself, could open doors to lead generation, but companies that want to make the most of live events need to have a more comprehensive strategy in mind. Being the convention planner or sponsor infers some measure of status at an event, but it doesn’t necessarily foster personal connections that may be necessary for effective lead generation.
On the one hand, event organizers already have an entire mailing list of prospective leads because they’re at the meeting, conference, or event, which means they’ve handed over contact information in order to participate. In other words, you’ve already taken the first step – they’re acquainted with your brand. The real question is how to get them to the next level. How can you build the personal relationships needed to turn them into paying customers, business partners, and/or lasting connections?
Generating leads at live events is a little different from doing it online, especially since attendees are already connected to you digitally. How can an event organizer, host, or sponsor create stronger connections that lead to long-term relationships with event attendees? Here are a few strategies to consider.
If you want to generate leads, it’s important to prep your strategy well in advance of your events, and you have a decided advantage on this front as an event host or sponsor because you have access to the email list. As a meeting or convention planner, you can covertly creep event attendees. By stalking their social media accounts, you can not only pinpoint good prospects, but learn the best ways to interest them in your brand.
If you think this is all a bit weird, just consider how online marketing works. It’s the same basic principle. With Facebook ads, you’re able to look for consumers that fit a very specific demographic, including age range, gender, profession, income, geographic region, and even personal likes and preferences. The only difference here is that you’re approaching your prospects in person and using information gleaned from their online profiles to make a connection.
Says Paul Steinmetz, Director of The American Meetings Network, “Prep work is essential to generating leads at live events. Your strategy can’t be to approach everyone and just wing it or throw down a sales pitch. Most people will not respond to these tactics. You need to narrow down the best prospects beforehand so you can find ways to create positive, personal, face-to-face interactions and successful outcomes.”
With help from an experienced creative partner in meeting planning and organization, such as American Meetings, Inc. (AMI), you can come up with strategies best suited to approaching your top prospects. This will ensure positive interactions and boost successful lead generation.
Work Existing Convention Planner Connections
As an event organizer or host, you have a decided leg up on lead generation because you already know a lot of people attending the event. Your existing connections can be a valuable resource to tap into when it comes to expanding your network at a live event.
If there are specific attendees you want to focus on for lead generation, simply do the legwork to uncover mutual connections. Then approach your connections and ask for a personal introduction to the people they know. Having a trusted go-between on your side can help your prospects to relax and make them more open to building a stronger relationship with your brand.
Pick the Right Partners
When you’re hosting a meeting or event, the partners you pick could pave the way to lead generation. This means choosing partners that increase your visibility and prestige among attendees. Whether you’re teaming up with other brands to host the event or you’re nabbing industry darlings to speak, participate in panels, or lead group discussions, you want to make sure your partners elevate your brand and attract leads to your conference or event.
Of course, you also need to leverage your partners to facilitate introductions. The right partners could bring in a new audience through existing connections, providing a link to ideal candidates for lead generation. Use that to your greatest advantage.
Grease the Wheels
Timing can be key when it comes to lead generation, and there are few better times to approach attendees than after seminars, workshops, and other events have finished for the day. Dinners, cocktail hours, and parties are perhaps the best place to work your lead generation strategies because the guests are, well, lubricated.
After a long day of gathering information or work shopping, event attendees are tired and ready to unwind. Once they have food and drinks, they’re ready to relax, have some fun, and interact more openly. In other words, their defenses are down, which gives you the best opportunity to strike up a conversation and make a good impression.
Increase Engagement as the Event Organizer
One of the best ways an event host or convention planner can strike up a conversation with prospective leads is by asking questions and getting them talking. This strategy can actually serve a dual purpose if you plan correctly.
You could, for example, ask prospects to provide feedback on the event in general or specific activities they’ve participated in. This could be your foot in the door to discuss relevant topics that naturally help you to develop leads and even soft sell.
Build It, They Will Come
Lead generation is only partially about shaking hands and getting face time. You also need to instill the building blocks of strong relationships. You should create activities and opportunities to promote a community that centers on your brand. You need to build awareness of your brand and your culture to give attendees the sense that they’re missing out on something by not engaging with your brand.
AMI is an ideal partner when it comes to finding creative ways to engage event attendees and come up with winning strategies for lead generation at live events. With the right strategies, you can see the greatest return on investment.