Let’s look at some of the key advantages of the proprietary corporate event. â€¢When creating a proprietary corporate event, the marketer has nearly complete control of the customer’s experience with the company. You can shape the event to suit the needs of your audience â€” and meet your corporate sales and marketing objectives. â€¢Corporate events are an excellent venue for relationship building with key customers, from end-users, to technical personnel, to purchasing officials, to senior executives.
The relationship can be deepened on both sides: you get more focused selling time, and the customers provide you with more insights into their needs and business problems. â€¢Corporate events are designed to allow higher level conversations than can be expected in the hustle and bustle of a trade show. â€¢Customers and prospects can focus on your message, without distractions from competitors. Corporate events tend to be applied to current customer marketing, versus prospecting, for the simple reason of efficiency.
For one thing, it’s easier to persuade a person with whom you already have a business relationship to come to your corporate event. For another, the future value of a current customer or inquirer is much higher than that of the average unwashed prospect, which justifies the expense of creating and running a dedicated event. To get the most value from a corporate event, keep these principles in mind: â€¢Consult with your target audience. In order to attract and influence them, you must first find out what works. Let their preferences and needs guide your planning. â€¢Seek opportunities to defray your costs.
You can ask your business partners to take sponsorships, or ask your clients to pay their own travel and hotel expenses. Some conferences even charge attendees a fee, which both qualifies their serious interest and supports the budget. â€¢Corporate event management is complicated, and requires expertise and resources from multiple parties, inside and outside the company. So a focus on project management and team-building will enhance your likelihood of success. â€¢Proprietary corporate events share many characteristics of trade shows, when it comes to marketing strategy, planning, and execution.
The same rules apply about setting objectives, promotions, post-event follow up, and so forth. Treat the corporate event like a full-fledged marketing campaign, not a one-off. Event Types It’s not easy to categorize events, since there is so much overlap in function and activity, but here are some of the more common types. Most of these are focused on current customers, but the last one, road shows, is designed for prospecting. User Groups The user group meeting has taken center stage in the information technology arena, but is also in wide use in other industries.
Typically the company’s objective with a user group is multi-fold: â€¢Education about the current products in use at the account â€¢Surfacing problems and trouble shooting solutions â€¢Identifying customer needs for additional products or features â€¢Deepening the relationship with the customer Most companies find that the opportunity to network with other product users is one of the key benefits appreciated by attendees. Client Conferences User groups target the engineer or middle manager who actually uses the product in day-to-day business, with primarily an educational and troubleshooting objective.
A client conference, on the other hand, is designed to engage a more senior managerial level, addresses more strategic issues and is often, in some respects, more sales oriented. The typical client conference pursues the following objectives: â€¢Deepen the customer relationship â€¢Communicate company vision, culture, and strategies â€¢Cross-sell and upsell â€¢Encourage networking among peers A client conference may have any of the following components: â€¢Keynotes and breakout sessions â€¢Exhibit hall â€¢Meetings with sales reps and senior executives â€¢Sports event, such as a golf outing A client appreciation dinner â€¢Entertainment Single-Customer Events Events focusing on a single customer can be a useful element of the corporate event marketing mix. Limited to top customers, these events can be as simple as an expanded client meeting, where the business carries on into ancillary activities like dinners or outings. Or they can be workshops, or facilitated sessions â€” whatever meets the sales and marketing objective. One common type of single-customer event is also known as a “vendor day,” when a large company arranges for suppliers to come in and show their wares. Educational Seminars
An educational seminar can be an appealing way to deliver product information within a larger business context â€” which adds credibility and also increases access to hard-to-reach customers. Most common are daylong or half-day seminar programs taught by a credible third party on a subject of strong business interest to your customers. If you include speakers from your own company, it’s important to keep the tone of the presentation more about solving problems or sharing ideas, and less a blatant sales pitch. One of the secrets to success in seminar marketing is balancing good content with amenities.
Consider this wisdom from Mark Amtower, a specialist in marketing to government buyers. Amtower conducts seminars all over the country for clients and prospects as part of his sales outreach. “The seminar content is important,” says Amtower. “But the food is how they’ll judge the seminar overall. I have learned to provide great food, and plenty of it, and I get rave reviews â€” and new business â€” from my seminars. ” Executive Seminars Executive seminars are intended to bring senior-level customers together for education, peer interaction, and face time with senior company representatives.
Usually kept fairly small, repeated at regular intervals, and held in desirable locations, these events combine customer appreciation with sales opportunity. The primary hook to attract attendees is content, topics of strategic interest to senior managers. The events thus serve to position the hosting company as a partner as opposed to a vendor, a trusted resource who can be relied upon to help solve pressing business problems. Attendees appreciate the chance to learn about solutions and to network with their peers from other companies. Entertainment Events
Events designed around social outings, or around food and drink, are most successful when linked to a specific sales objective. The attendees need to be carefully selected and qualified, since you don’t want to be investing in entertaining the universe. Most companies find that entertainment events only work when they are driven by the sales team, and marketing assists in logistics and strategy. Road Shows Road shows consist of a multi-city series of meetings designed to deliver richer product information than is possible through mail or phone, but to be more efficient than solo sales calls.
The road show takes the event to the market â€” sparing customers and prospects the need to travel. Typically, the marketer bears all the expense, and no fee is charged to attendees. The road show venue is usually a hotel meeting room, with a half-day session that includes breakfast or lunch. Because the cost per contact is fairly high, ranging from $25 to $100 or more, road shows are typically reserved for clients or prospects who are fairly far along the buying cycle. Most road shows target a customer based within driving distance from the venue.
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