Build Business with Existing Client Events: Make It Memorable
Existing client events should do two things: help your clients improve their business and build a stronger relationship between you and your client. Valuable content and professional delivery are clearly the basic ingredients, but attention to detail and a little creativity can turn a good meal into a State dinner.
Assure Attendance with Reminders...and Incentives
The first order of business in making the event memorable for your clients is to get them there. Your registration confirmation should include an Outlook Calendar Appointment with full details and directions. Send them an email reminder a couple of days in advance and place a reminder call the day before the event. If you don't have their number, send a reminder e-mail with directions.
There are always outside events that can affect the turnout for your event, but creative thinking can even overcome something as inescapable as the weather. When a snowstorm threatened to impact attendance at a Vertical Solutions seminar, Marketing Manager Tina Featheringham e-mailed each registrant a Panera menu the day before the event. She asked them to choose the item off the menu that they would like to be served at the catered event. One hundred percent responded and were in their seats when the Pittsburgh-based Gold Partner's event started because of Tina's attention to detail.
Make guests feel welcome and valued
Don't assume that your employees know how to be good hosts. Have a call before the event to help them prepare. These simple guidelines will make clients feel valued:
- Welcome each guest you meet, shake hands, thank them for coming
- Talk to clients – not each other
- Listen, listen, listen
Give employees that don't meet with clients regularly some conversation starters with open-ended questions. Remind them that the event is a time to gain insight into client challenges that might be opportunities for you to solve with services.
- How has the economy affected their business?
- How does their company manage relationships with their customers?
- What are their company's plans for growth over the next couple of years?
- How does their management team feel about technology moving to the cloud?
Remind your team -- including eager sales people -- that this is not a day to directly solicit sales, but to build relationships. There's no better way to make people feel good than to ask questions, then be quiet and listen.
Promote Two-Way Communication
While your clients have come to the event to learn, it is also the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about your clients. You can be interested without being intrusive with:
- networking opportunities at breaks and lunch
- round-robin introductions if you have a small group -- ask them to share something about their company
- open ended questions on the event evaluation sheet
Eat Well and Have Some Fun
While the intention of your event is to educate your clients, that doesn't mean that you should forget food and fun. Don't scrimp on food. With a little Bing research you can find popular restaurants that will help you choose a menu that fits the event and your budget.
Motivate attendees to turn in their evaluation sheet with unexpected prizes. Software is always appreciated, but get creative with geek t-shirts, gift cards or game tickets to add a little excitement to the day.
End the event with a call to action that your clients will remember. "Be sure to call us if you have a problem" is not an effective call to action. Tanya Knight, Marketing Director for ePartners uses "ePartners Bucks" as an added thank you for clients that attend the Gold Partner's events. Everyone loves a coupon and the $100 ePartners Bucks remind people to pick up the phone before the coupon expires.
Have you done something creative at your event to help clients remember you? Please tell me about it so that we can share the knowledge.
This is the last in our three-part series looking at how you can use in-person events to build relationships with clients without spending a fortune or dedicating months to planning. If you missed part one, we covered how to choose content that will attract clients. In part two we talked about delivering content without putting your audience to sleep.
Posted by Barb Levisay on January 24, 2011 at 11:57 AM