Even in the digital technology-driven age we live in, there is still a place for in-person marketing. Whether it’s a networking event, an industry conference, or a trade show, in-person events are a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and drive new customer activations. When you’re at an in-person event, there is an art to taking off your salesperson hat and connecting with your customers on a human level. This is something that is more difficult to do through online avenues like email and social media. Taking advantage of being present at in-person events and using your people skills to generate meaningful connections can lead to an increase in new customers. The key to creating a successful lead generation strategy is to be prepared for all three stages of the event—before, during, and after.
Preparing Before the Event
In the weeks leading up to the events you should be focusing your efforts on lead nurturing. Take a look at the database of contacts that you have already accumulated and segment them into a list of people who you think will be most interested in attending the event. You can segment your leads in a variety of ways, including by looking at the way in which they became leads (was it at a previous event? A webinar on a specific topic? A free download?).
Once you’ve segmented your leads, it’s time to begin promoting the event. You can use various channels to promote the event including social media, blog posts and email marketing. Drip campaigns are particularly useful for promoting an event. You can start the campaign 4-6 weeks out and create content that teases the event and gradually goes into more detail. Promoting your event to people not on your lead list is important as well. You can do this by running Facebook campaigns (link to blog post on Facebook campaigns) to targeted audiences who have an interest in the industry and the type of event.
Generating Leads During the Event
Once the event rolls around, this is the phase where you focus on lead generation. Take the time to understand what kind of event you’ll be attending and where your company will be present. If it’s a trade show or conference, you’ll more than likely be at a booth. If this is the case, then be prepared to meet current leads and future prospects at your booth. You can use tactics like creative decorations and merchandise to draw in new prospects and encourage them to connect with you.
This is the time where you drop your salesperson hat and focus on connecting with prospects over a mutual interest or passion. If you try too hard to sell your product or service, prospects will most likely lose interest. Practicing your elevator pitch in a warm and friendly manner can help you make a great first impression. Once you’ve connected with a lead or prospect, don’t forget to get their contact information whether that’s in the form of a business card or digitally on a computer or tablet. To ramp up your lead generation at an event, it’s a good idea to consider things like raffles and contests. This way your leads are giving your their contact information in exchange for a piece of merch or a chance to win a larger prize.
Follow Up After the Event
Once the event is over, your focus is going to turn to lead nurturing once again. Your goal with post-event follow up is to make direct contact with your leads and qualify them as soon as possible. Send your follow up email no more than a couple days after the event takes place. This way your company and interaction with them will still be fresh in their mind. The follow up email should explain how you gathered their contact information, include details of the event, and remind them of specific interaction or conversation if one took place.
When it comes to lead follow up, the best strategy is to make them an offer they can’t refuse. Whether it’s a discount, an opportunity to enter into another giveaway, or an invitation to a similar upcoming event, making them an offer they will be interested in is a great way to qualify them and market to them in the future. Being persistent with your leads also means being patient and working on a successful drip campaign that nurtures them with a stream of relevant and high-quality content.
In-person events can be just as successful and sometimes more successful than online marketing. If your company is planning on attending a networking event of conference in the near future, take advantage of this opportunity to generate leads and drive new customer activations. By preparing your in-person marketing strategy before, during and after the event, you can maximize your lead generation and personal connection capabilities.