A basic marketing premise looks at how to retain good customers and how to acquire new ones. Acquisition and retention are a cornerstone in any business venture.
In an effort to show your existing customers how they can be more successful and show new customers new places they can go enabled by your ideas, products and services consider hosting an educational event.
I’d like you to consider 4 Planning Phases of Successful Events.
2. Pre-Event Efforts
3. Event Delivery
4. Post-Event Efforts and Outcomes
Below is the beginning of an Educational Event Planning Guide to Increased Sales. Whether your goal is to create an effective lead generation program, re-develop your customer acquisition process, salvage lost customers with a retention campaign or you just want to say no more to cold calls. Developing your objectives is part of the process. It may seem like the guide is a series of questions, but it’s in the process of answering the questions that will help you create an event that fits your organization, your needs and the needs of your current and future customers.
We’re just scratching the surface here with Phase 1 Planning. Three future posts will discuss Phase 2, 3 and 4.
Phase 1 Planning
The planning phase has two major parts. The planning process of how the event fits into the larger needs of the organization and the actual planning steps to the event itself.
Planning within the Big Picture
- Why have an event, what are your goals? What do you want to get for your efforts? Develop objectives that are SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Based) and align with the current or future needs of the organization.
- Having an educational event provides a reason to talk to customers and prospects. It gives you something to buzz about beyond your capabilities and need for business. It could give your customers reasons to invest in new ideas and new products and services to help them grow.
Planning the Event
- Content: strategic, operational, sales, business processes? The content is what will be advertised and why people will attend. Theming your event and tying it to actionable outcomes changes an informative event to a results event. Types of businesses and the role of the attendee will be influenced by the content you choose.
- Type of Event: Face to Face or Webinar. Each presents its own benefits and shortcomings. Consider your content and audience along with your budget and resources as part of your thought process.
- Timing: Early in the quarter? At the beginning, middle or late in the week? Morning, afternoon or all day? What time works best for those you are looking to reach?
- Location: If face to face do you host it at your company, at a local hotel, a customers business? To feed or not to feed? Is the location part of your message? If you choose to have a web conference what are the needs of the solution? Browser, OS, phone, voice over IP, Presentation technology, presentation style, ability to interact with attendees.
Use the event itself to help you retain existing customers and acquire new ones. Use a multi channel approach to solicit input to your educational event. Post it on your blog, have sales reps call on the phone, visit face to face, Tweet about it, email it, provide a web page where people can influence the outcome. Use the multi channel mix to help you connect with people!
Let existing customers know you are hosting an educational event and you would like to invite them to "participate" early on and be part of the planning committee. Ask them what they would like to learn more about and why? What challenges are they facing, their industry, their customers facing? What opportunities would they like to go after but can’t seem to get started. Why? All of these questions can apply to new customers you’d like to acquire too.
It’s not really about the event itself. The event is an indirect approach to help you grow your relationship with existing customers and knock on new doors and acquire new ones. Deliver on what they ask for and you’re on a new road to showing your customer why they could be doing business with you and your organization.
Stay tuned for information on Phase 2: Pre-event Efforts, Phase 3: Event Delivery and Phase 4: Post-Event Efforts and Outcomes.
If you have additional planning ideas you’d like to share or have a question about anything we’ve posted, just let me know!