pre event planning checklist

5 Pre-event Tactics to Build Long-Tail Value

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According to EventManager, thought leader in the conference and trade show industry and prolific content producer, 68% of B2B marketers claim events are the most valuable source of top-of-the-funnel leads. This is especially critical insight for associations who are redefining their overall marketing strategies to include events. Part of driving business success in the digital age— it’s 2020, after all—  is leaning into events as marketing for your organization. If events are on your roadmap for growth this year, or even in the next five years, you’ll no doubt encounter lead retrieval at some point if you haven’t already. The technology available to empower instant lead capture and retrieval is fairly simple and flexible. It’s not limited just to lead capture and retrieval for business development purposes: badge scanning for peer-to-peer or supplier-to-buyer connection, QR code reading, and session check-in/check-out are all potential functions for the same hardware and software. One of the growing trends in this space, however, is focused on integrated event platforms, such as mobile and web event apps, that come ready-built with this powerful functionality.

How can your organization or association use this technology to your advantage at your next event or conference? Before we can answer that question, it’s important to establish some contextual parameters: identifying your key audiences and their needs. Lead capture and retrieval at events most often impacts three audiences, each who have unique needs, expectations, and experiences with this type of technology:

  • Attendees frequently use lead retrieval technology at events to connect with peers for post-event follow-up to share learning and build community.
  • Exhibitors tend to use this functionality in traditional ways to develop business, generate interest in their brand or products, and create new opportunities.
  • Sponsors are similarly motivated like exhibitors in that they want to drive awareness of, interest in, and engagement with their brand, products, and services.

Leveraging lead retrieval technology for monetization at events, driving revenue through sponsorships as an example, requires some deeper thinking on your part as the planner/organizer. Consider using the following five tactics for building long-tail value into your next trade show or conference with lead retrieval:

  1. Evaluate needs with due diligence.
  2. Research and weigh your options.
  3. Understand the perception of value.
  4. Contextualize your communications.
  5. Provide compelling social proof.

Let’s get started!

1. Evaluate needs with due diligence.

It’s not enough to shop around anymore. There are so many providers out there it is a challenge even knowing where to begin. Rather than starting with the feature or functionality, you’re looking for (lead retrieval, in this case), do a deep dive with your event management team to evaluate the comprehensive need across your target audiences. Lean into past surveys, evaluations, and post-event feedback from attendees. Do the same for previous exhibitors and sponsors. Based on the noises they’re making, can you confidently move forward with implementing new technology? Will the new tech add unique value to your event communities? Figure out what an ideal state looks like and build your plan around that.

2.  Research and weigh your options.

This is where you are likely to spend the most time before making a decision about what technology is right for your event. Tons of companies boast decreased customer acquisition cost and increased adoption rates or customer lifetime value, but what’s really important to the people who come to your event? If ease of use is an issue, build that into your research. In learning about the options available to you, you’ll probably watch a ton of videos or guided demonstrations. Pay close attention to the steps it takes to get from capture to retrieval. Will you and your organizations, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees all have the ability to export the information quickly and easily (like a CSV file)? Or, is the technology an aesthetically pleasing veneer over a platform that will ultimately create more work for you and your teams?

3.  Understand the perception of value.

We’ve all heard “lead with the benefits” in marketing, but when value is realized in multiple ways across the business landscape, it’s important to consider perception first. As you delve into the work for tactic #1 above, consider the ways in which your prospective sponsors and exhibitors look for opportunities. What motivates them to come to your event instead of all the others they could attend? The event experience is changing for attendees, too. The more modern marketing influences the events industry, we can see many of the same principles apply at events. If you decide to incorporate a new technology for lead capture and retrieval at your next event, remember to build messaging into your communications plan that demonstrates value for your key audiences. For sponsors and exhibitors, it’s almost always about business development. They want high-quality interactions with high-quality prospects. By offering lead retrieval as part of their sponsorship package, or as an option on your prospectus, consider granting them access to the tools before your event. While attendees are more focused on building community and gleaning practical insights for their business, granting access to lead retrieval in advance of your event (perhaps in the palm of their hands using a mobile event app) helps save them a ton of time. Before they arrive on-site, for example, they will have had the chance to explore virtual vendor booths and profiles, find out which providers have what they’re looking for, and plan ahead for connecting onsite with those organizations.

4. Contextualize your communications.

How you frame your communications ties in directly with how you’ve documented perception of value across your key audiences for your conference or trade show. It’s well-known that personalization of content yields better results (narrow-casting or niche marketing > broadcasting) in terms of return on your investment of time, capital, and human resources. Email and social messaging that’s been thoughtfully curated with the target audience at its core will land much more effectively than broad-based messaging centered around the event itself. Put yourself in their shoes — what would you want to see at the event? What would your expectations be around value, takeaways, and the overall impact of the event on your organization? In addition to sharing targeted messaging to prospective attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors to drive demand for your event, consider value-added content for those who have already made the commitment to attend.

5. Provide compelling social proof.

If you’ve put in the hard work to figure out what makes your audiences tick, show them. Especially with respect to new technology like lead capture and retrieval, it’s important to demonstrate that your audience is not alone. They are not being experimented on like guinea pigs. The technology you’ve chosen to adopt was based on a number of factors, not the least of which are market research and industry insights. But what about those who have already succeeded using such technology? In event marketing and management, we know storytelling is a key element of effective messaging. Social proof goes hand-in-glove with stories. This type of content may come in the form of case studies that showcase industry leaders realizing ROI and success from event technology. It may be a more emotional piece, like a blog feature, that’s shared from the point of view of a top executive of an organization your audience sees as a leader. Whatever the format, social proof is a great way to build trust and confidence: this is true in any marketing and can help you take your event marketing to the next level. Written by Maggie GreeneEqual parts voracious reader and passionate writer, Maggie is an expert in communication principles and practices that help drive positive impact for business. As Marketing Manager for Pathable, Inc., she’s customer-obsessed, results-oriented, and dedicated to celebrating the value of highly customizable event app and web solutions for event planners across industries around the globe.

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