I do not like events.
I don’t like canapes (just feed me real food) and I don’t like small talk. I’m the kind of person who goes straight in with a slightly disturbing fact I saw on a documentary about serial killers and ruins the mood.
Did you know the opposite of ‘Microsoft’ is ‘Macrohard’? Yeah, like that.
In fact, my husband, who actually has social skills, sometimes just says ‘Macrohard’ at parties to warn me that I’m being weird again.
ANYWAY. Why do we do events in marketing? Because even though I despise them and would much rather be at home watching more serial killer documentaries, they work.
Think back to the last interesting person you met at an event. Maybe they had a bit too much to drink. Maybe they titillated you with stories about their gap year or the catchment area for their eldest child’s school. Maybe you ended up at a Casino in Leicester Square with them at 3am on a Monday (true story).
Humans are, inherently, social creatures. Even for introverts like me, we connect with people and we need to connect with people. And the best way to connect with people? Face to face.
‘Events are dying!’ I hear marketers say sometimes. ‘It’s always the same people and nobody wants to buy anything!’ whine sales over their free beer.
Sales are kind of right here- there’s a certain type of person who makes a living seemingly going around the event circuit eating those stupid spoon canapes.
But they’re not dying. In fact, they just need to be done properly, as part of a journey.
People are not going to leave Netflix and Deliveroo unless you a) have something very interesting to say; or b) have spent your entire marketing budget on getting Philip Schofield on a panel.
You have to warm people up to events. This is where, you guessed it, content is important. You have to find new people who don’t know you via social media promotion, blog promotion, and being really interesting and really useful.
Then you’ve got them. Get their email address. Woohoo! This is where some marketers go ‘look, a lead’, and go to the pub.
Don’t do that.
Once you’ve got their email you need to nurture them. Having someone’s email address means you aren’t at the mercy of tech giants (looking at you, Facebook) changing their algorithms or going bankrupt or taking on the US government. You’ve got yourself a nice spreadsheet or CRM system of people who just…might…be interested in you.
But just because they’ve swiped right and you’ve got a match, doesn’t mean that you can ignore them, not have any chats and then get annoyed that they don’t want to marry you. Sales is the same.
Don’t act hard to get, talk to them. Send them some emails. Create a nice nurture campaign. And when you have something interesting to say, somewhere nice, with some nice, similar minded people, then invite them to the event. Don’t do it last minute or invite them to Burger King. Like Tinder, they’ll say no.
Get them to the event, and line up your sales team with insight about them (in a non-creepy way), and let them form a relationship. Any good sales person worth their salt won’t suddenly propose marriage (a sale..is my analogy getting lost here?), but will see if it’s a good fit.
You can help, marketer, you should help the whole sales cycle, and then when the sale is made keep them coming to events because a) it’s nice to get free wine and b) they’ll make positive noises about you to everyone else.
Stop doing events without content. Find new attendees, warm them up, nurture them, invite them, be really bloody interesting, and then provide ongoing value with a round up of the event or more educational content all the way through the cycle.
Much as I dislike it, I’ll don my name badge and eat a canape and help you out- and if our content has been effective, it’s a much, much easier date.