Converting Prospects to Customers Through Event Marketing
The marketing journey is not as predictable as it once was, and there are potential roadblocks to conversion at every stage within the funnel. Today’s buyers have access to high-quality information about products and services through digital media, so they’re not reliant on the sellers for insights. In the most successful companies, sales and marketing organizations overcome these roadblocks together. They work in concert to generate brand awareness, educate prospects, forge relationships, and ultimately to turn prospects into customers. Event marketing plays a key role in these efforts.
Research from event technology provider Bizzabo found that 84 percent of technology leaders say that live events are critical to overall business success. Events, unlike other marketing channels, offer a unique opportunity to engage prospects in person, and to do so when they’re receptive to a company’s message. Therefore, events can help sales and marketing folks overcome the challenges they encounter in converting prospects.
Top-of-the-Funnel Challenges and Opportunities
The top of the marketing funnel is all about awareness. At this phase, your brand is just landing on the prospect’s radar. Potential customers are discovering your brand and learning what you do. They may or may not be in the market. Either way, you want to leave prospects with a good impression so your brand is top of mind when they are ready to buy.
The primary challenge at this stage is delivering the right message to the right prospects at the right time. These contacts aren’t ready for product demos or calls from your sales team. Any attempts to engage with them in outwardly self-promotional ways could even drive them away. This top-of-the-funnel phase is purely an educational one.
Events are ideal for overcoming the top-of-the-funnel messaging challenge. In fact, 64 percent of marketers believe trade shows and events are a key source for new business. A well-designed event will offer exposure for a brand in a low-pressure environment.
The best events for this phase are focused on getting your brand in front of large groups of people to generate awareness. Conferences and trade shows, for example, enable brands to generate awareness within their relevant industries while connecting with individuals on a personal and professional level. By having a booth on a trade show floor or sponsoring certain elements of a large event, brands have the ability to get mass exposure in a short period of time. It may be beneficial to have the executive team speak at events as a way to demonstrate relevant thought leadership.
Mid-Funnel Challenges and Opportunities
The middle of the funnel is the time where your prospects are conducting research, educating themselves about potential solutions, and evaluating products and services. It’s at this point where there is a mutual discovery process to determine whether the proposed solution addresses the customer’s problem.
The biggest challenge for brands at this phase is the competition. You’re not the only brand vying for your prospect’s attention and business. Events can help you stand out from the crowd, providing a platform to communicate differentiators, reinforce thought leadership in the space, and develop an in-person relationship.
Event marketing efforts at this stage should focus on field marketing events to create intimate settings that facilitate the in-person connection and allow the representatives to build a relationship with key stakeholders in the room. It’s crucial that sales and marketing work together to create a personalized experience that entices the prospects in the room and creates a memorable event that helps further the prospect down the sales funnel.
Bottom-of-the-Funnel Challenges and Opportunities
At the bottom of the funnel, prospects are deciding if and when to sign on the dotted line. Ideally they’ve evaluated your solution, built a relationship with your team, and are persuading internal decision makers that your company is the way to go.
At this final stage of the sales process, the challenge brands encounter is understanding how their product or service aligns with the prospect’s strategic business goals. The ability to articulate this to the prospect can go a long way toward convincing decision-makers that an investment in your offering will have a favorable return.
Events give the sales team an opportunity to reiterate its understanding of the prospect’s problem and how the product or service will help them achieve long-term goals. The atmosphere of an event can help put decision makers in the best frame of mind to move forward with the purchase.
Small VIP events work well here. Hosting events such as executive dinners and exclusive breakfasts gives your executive team an opportunity to get face time with decision makers. Smaller, focused events give your team an opportunity to remind your prospects of all your differentiating factors and capitalize on the relationship you’ve built with them to help increase conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
Sales and marketing organizations must move through the sales cycle with their prospects, conveying the right message at the right time. Events offer the flexibility brands need to meet prospects where they are and support long-term sales goals.
Alon Waks is VP of marketing at Bizzabo.