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Build Business with Existing Client Events

You know that feeling when you run into an old friend that you haven't seen for a long time? You have a great conversation and you agree that you will do a better job keeping in touch. And you really mean it. Long-term relationships build strong connections.

Your clients are no different. Using social media to connect with new clients and build communities is great -- but is no replacement for long-term friendships. You may not have time to visit every client regularly, but holding regular in-person events where you can shake hands and reconnect is smart marketing that will build your business.

Good Content Is Worth the Time
For whatever reason, partners often assume that their clients don't want to attend in-person events. When you offer information that helps them improve their business, clients will make the time. And there lies the key -- deliver content that makes it worth their time to attend.

Five years ago, KTL Solutions Inc., a Dynamics partner located in Frederick , Md., decided to hold a Users Group aimed at clients who were not able to attend the Microsoft Convergence show. From that first modest but positive event with 25 attendees the annual event has grown, hosting over 120 people in May 2010. An impressive 95 percent of those that register attend the free day-long event, some even traveling in and staying at hotels to participate.

So, what kind of content attracts that level of interest?  Kim Lally, KTL's controller, said, "We focus our subjects on the issues that our clients bring up with our consultants. Sessions are intended to help clients solve those issues, not just sell them software. We work hard to keep it educational, not sales-y."

Educate with Purpose
Educational sessions and presentations should also serve your purpose -- which is to provide additional services to the clients who attend your event. You can achieve both ends by showing the value of technology, software or processes that improve business operations. KTL found that balance with 2010 sessions including:

  • "Today's Virtual Office -- Best Practices for Cutting the Cord" focused on how organizations can support virtual workers. The educational message supports cloud and virtualization services.
  • "Moving from Bookkeeper to Strategic Advisor" showing financial professionals how to use business intelligence dashboards to improve their value to the organization.

You can also use examples of specific outcomes that your current clients have achieved by using the technology you implemented for them. Decision makers like to hear how other organizations have overcome the same hurdles they face. Use specific examples or group together common outcomes, like:

  • "IT Cost Reduction: How XYZ Company Trimmed 25 Percent from IT Costs in Two Months"
  •  "Five Ways Project-Based Companies Cut Costs with Improved Proposal Management"
  • "Three Creative Ways Local Companies Used Mobile Devices to Increase Sales"

The CEO, CFO, operations manager and sales director really don't care how cool the technology is -- they care about how it saves or makes them money. No matter how tempted you are to talk about the latest product features, keep your content focused on how you solve the problems that your clients face.

Have you done a client event that that was well received?  Please tell me about your experience so that we can share the knowledge.

In this 3-part series, we'll look at how you can use in-person events to build relationships with clients without spending a fortune or dedicating months to planning. In Part 1, we've covered how to choose content that will attract clients. Part 2 will address how to  deliver content without putting your audience to sleep. In Part 3, we'll take a look at making your event memorable without breaking the bank.

Posted by Barb Levisay on January 06, 2011