There are various types of marketing events to attend; traditional marketing events like trade shows, corporate events, social gatherings, and more. Regardless of the event, a marketer must go through some checkpoints before the event. In this article we’ll cover how to prepare for a marketing event to make your event as successful as possible.
Prepare your Booth
We’re assuming your next event will require you to showcase your brand a bit. Companies typically do this with a booth. If you don’t have a booth contact your local print shop and inquire about trade show or event displays. Lead Liaison uses a three (3) panel display with plenty of images. As a tip, keep your text to a minimum. Yes – you do want people stopping by your booth to engage in conversation with you, but you don’t want them blindly staring at your display struggling to read the text. You’d rather tell them what you do and converse with them, right? Try to think of adding only broad headings and key bullet points (no more than three per panel) to your display. If you don’t already have a graphics artist on your team, hit up a site like upwork.com and hire someone. For us, we used the graphics person at the print shop so we got a bonus. We got a graphics artist to help us out without having to shell out more money.
Once your display is ready, consider how to prepare for a marketing event that focuses on your audience. You can run a drawing where you have your booth visitors drop a business card into a fish bowl. You can offer some candy (in another fish bowl or tray), or you can give away some company swag. Here are some other ideas if you want to take a more creative route:
- Talk to a handful of local companies in the area and have them sponsor services to run an auction. Hotels, restaurants, nail salons, etc. should all be happy for you to promote their services while visitors bid on each service. It’s a good interactive idea.
- Do something off the wall such as a wheel for people to spin to win a prize of some sort. Most people will like playing the game and see that as a nice break to the monotony of the event.
- Have a raffle for your services. For example, if you’re a software company give away a subscription to your software for a period of time. If you’re a professional services company offer a complementary version of your services (free consultation, free training, etc.).
One of the most important things to consider when thinking about how to prepare for a marketing event is how you will capture your leads. Marketers must think through how they’ll capture leads at the marketing event. There are varying levels of lead capture. You could do what many companies do and only collect business cards from each person. If you did that, it would take a while to get the leads into the system, you risk human error losing cards or entering in information, you rely on the sales person to enter in the data, and even after all of that’s done – you’ve got to merge all the leads together, get them into your system, and properly distribute them.
An alternative method is to contact your trade show organizer to see what system they suggest. Most event organizers will contract a company for their lead retrieval system. The lead retrieval system will likely be a handheld barcode scanner or a mobile app. Choosing a system from the lead retrieval company will still limit you though. For example, the forms that are provided are limited. They are designed to only capture certain information, such as name, email, phone, etc. Even if you’re using their barcode scanner, only select information gets pulled in. If your company prefers to capture key information from your booth visitor, too bad – you’ve got to cram that information into the notes section, making lead capture even more cluttered when it’s time to get that data into your system. Moreover, you’ve got to get the captured leads into your system. Lead retrieval companies will put your leads into a central repository for you to download, or give you all of your leads while you’re at the show. Once you obtain them, they still have to be curated, uploaded into your company’s CRM, and distributed. This is just the capture part, and doesn’t include any follow up with attendees.
The last, and best option, is to use a professional-level event lead capture system. These systems have a backend and frontend to help you manage the end-to-end process for your event leads. On the backend, marketers can build and provision forms with custom fields and information relevant to the company. Marketers can also electronically roll out forms to different sales people and fellow marketers who might be attending the event. The forms can be pushed out to each user’s Android, iOS, or Windows device as the application should be cross platform (HTML5). The mobile event lead capture application will provide multiple lead capture methods. We’ve listed a handful of lead capture methods present in leading event capture apps:
- Barcode / QR code scanning
- Manual entry
- List pre-fill
- Business card scan
Leading event lead capture solutions will also work offline as most events could be in the basement of a hotel or in a crowded area where internet or cellular connectivity is limited or not available at all. The device should work seamlessly, whether offline or online, and hold the leads on the device or automatically pass them to the backend once the device connects. This leads us to the backend aspect of these systems. The backend should be sophisticated enough to help the marketer qualify, communicate, distribute, and nurture leads automatically. Here’s a short summary of each of these areas of the workflow on the backend:
- Qualify: Leading systems will use scoring or grading as a way to qualify leads. Scoring is a way to measure engagement or interests. For example, if the prospect chose a specific value on the form then give them more points. Similarly with grading, if the prospect has a title that contains “Chief” then consider automatically giving them an A+ for their grade. Scoring and grading will help your sales reps separate out where to focus first, as they should look for the highest graded and scored leads from the event.
- Communicate: Responding to the lead right away is important. Text the visitor back after an hour or so thanking them for their time and visit. Alternatively, send them an email, postcard, or handwritten letter shortly after meeting them.
- Distribute: Make sure you route the lead to the route sales people as soon as it is submitted. Use various rules such as geography, demographics, or any information you collect on your form to determine where to send the lead. Getting the lead in the hands of your sales rep as soon as you can is critical for success.
- Nurture: Build stronger relationships with your leads by running them through multi-step nurture processes that intelligently sends out touch points across traditional and digital marketing channels.
Coordinate your Team
Gather your sales and marketing team members together and do a recap of your upcoming event. If each person is using a lead capture app like Lead Liaison’s GoCapture!™, make sure each user is in the system and their device is authenticated to receive the event form. Your team might also benefit from having one or two devices around the booth and putting the GoCapture!™ app into Kiosk Mode to more easily manage lead collection. Whatever your approach, make sure you have a documented process for capturing the leads and make sure your reps are fully trained on this process.
Distribute your Leads
The final, and possibly most crucial step, in thinking through how to prepare for a marketing event is to nail down how you will distribute your leads. As noted above, it’s critical to have a sound lead distribution plan following your marketing event. Make sure your reps are not taking their business cards back home with them or losing them in transport. To avoid this, leverage the OCR or business card transcription services offered by your event lead capture service. With Lead Liaison, we provide a transcription portal as a component of the backend lead capture system. Businesses can manage the portal themselves by transcribing their own cards. Alternatively, Lead Liaison’s transcription team could transcribe the card for a nominal fee. Either way, get those cards out of the hands of your reps and into the system in digital format for prompt lead distribution.