Get Creative with an Event or Trade Show
Events can be a great way to build brand awareness, nurture prospects, generate leads, or enhance relationships with existing customers and the media. They can be very successful for both B2B and B2C companies – you’re only limited by your creativity!
Take a look at Red Bull. The #1 energy drink spends the majority of its marketing budget on events and content marketing, and very little on high-cost paid media channels like direct mail, print, radio and television.
And it works for Red Bull.
And while you probably don’t have Red Bull’s budget (and even if some might think that you have a “boring” product or service), don’t give up on events! If done right, an event can produce some of the highest return on investment for your marketing budget.
Get started by reviewing events that other companies in other industries have held. The goal isn’t to copy them, but simply to expand your thinking.
Check out the following (which open in a new window):
- Red Bull Event Calendar
- 150 Original Ideas for Fundraising
- Geeks on a Plane (and other event concepts)
Jot down any ideas that resonate. Then think about all of the events you have ever attended. Which ones were memorable? Which were forgettable? Poll your colleagues and friends.
Now, think about the business goals you need to achieve. Here are some examples:
- Build brand awareness
- Generate new leads
- Obtain media exposure
- Generate product interest with end-users or potential distributors or retailers
- Build closer relationships with existing customers
- Qualify leads that have expressed initial interest
- Nurture and move qualified leads further in the sales process
Now begin exploring ideas about the different types of events that can help to achieve your goals. Review your list from your previous brainstorming, and also consider:
- Educational seminars or conferences – Hold a breakfast seminar to teach prospects about a technology.
- Sponsoring a local cultural event – Become a sponsor for a local sports team, symphony, or traveling production with advertising during the event, tickets, a reception afterward, etc.
- Charity events or fundraisers – Sponsor an existing charity organization’s annual event with tickets for customers and prospects, advertising, and a newsworthy donation.
- Contests – Hold a contest for employees, customers, vendors or partners to raise money for an organization and promote the story to the press and on your website (serves many wonderful purposes).
- Webinars – Hold a live educational webinar about a hot topic with several short case studies and an interactive Q&A.
- Networking – Host a complimentary happy hour with entertainment for prospects and current customers to mingle and establish working relationships with other attendees.
- Industry event or trade show sponsorships – Use a standard exhibit at a trade show, but promote your attendance to attendees through email, mail, and phone, with a focus on driving traffic to your booth at specific times for a special demonstration, talk or giveaway.
Consider your top choices, then begin to create a high-level budget. Think about:
- Event day costs
- Event promotional costs
- Post-event follow-up costs
If your budget is tight, you can still create a memorable event without breaking the bank. Think about finding a sponsor to cover location costs and using social media, your email list and your sales team to get the word out.
If you need additional step-by-step guidance, check out these plans: