Category Archives: Events

Events are a major tool used by businesses to drive new leads, provide nurtuing and sales developement content and support customers, users and partners

Events are Making a Comeback as a Valuable Marketing Tool

We’ve always done a lot of work helping clients support events – from webinars to road shows to annual conferences. One thing that was brutally apparent over the last two years was the reduced use of events as marketing tool, but that appears to be changing.

I’m seeing a lot of our clients and their competitors renewing their use of events in the marketing mix and while I’m delighted to see it, at first it had me wondering. Let’s face it, all the buzz is still about automation, content creation and social media, so why the renewed interest in events?

Since I don’t think it has anything to do with a desire to spend money that isn’t generating a payback, clearly something important happens at events that is missed in other areas and I’m going to suggest to you that what it has to do with is making a live, personal contact with suspects, prospects and customers in a way that the internet, for all it’s spectacular virtues simply doesn’t offer. 

Events allow your audience to see, hear, touch and genuinely connect with their thought leaders, peers, colleagues, vendors, prospects and customers. That enhanced personal connection is the one thing that is unique about events. It’s the one reason that in spite of rising costs and reduced cost efficiency, event marketing is not dead and will never die.

We have to be smarter about how we take advantage of event marketing’s unique attributes by planning our “presentation” more thoughtfully and maximizing the impact of those personal contacts.

Here are some ideas from Brian Carroll and a post he wrote last year called 100 Tips for Trade Show Lead Generation

  1. Follow-up quickly after the event. Think about your follow-up process before the event happens not afterwards.
  2. Create event follow-up content pieces, talking points and email templates for your sales team to use to add value and continue the conversation in a relevant way rather than “pitching” everybody.
  3. Develop a nurturing track that for event attendees connects with the theme or the content of the event. Try to do this at least for a few months at minimum.
  4. See the event as a conversation (or conversation starter) not a campaign. Don’t stop the dialog. Brainstorm ways you can keep the dialog going.

Now Brian was mostly talking about Trade Shows in his post, but the same thinking holds true for Road Shows, Seminars, User Conferences and Webinars as well.

Use the face to face connections to nurture an ongoing dialogue and once you’ve established it, don’t sacrifice the personal connection. You’ll do a lot of email follow up for sure, but be sure to pick up the phone and remind your contacts that you are a real person with a real voice.

If you don’t have the time to make those calls yourself, consider how much further ahead you’ll be with a well planned and brilliantly executed voicemail message. Just don’t settle for less than brilliantly executed and you’ll improve your marketing ROI by increasing the efficiency of your events.

2014 B2B Lead Generation Trends from MarketingProfs

According to a recently released Infographic from MarketingProfs, Inside Sales, immediately followed by; Executive Events, Telemarketing and Tradeshows are the four most effective ways to generate B2B Sales Leads.

In spite of the buzz around inbound and social, the old tricks are not old hat. According to MarketingProfs ..“figuring out the most effective methods for generating B2B sales leads should be top of mind for companies looking to connect ROI to their marketing efforts. That will ensure that you’re feeding the sales machine, and, as every marketer knows, that means more support for the equally crucial but longer-term marketing activities that are harder to attach to a quarterly goal.”

Read more:

Better Subject Lines for More Opened Emails

As you read this message, sit back and enjoy the knowledge that some of your competitor’s event marketing budgets are simply money flushed down the drain. Why? Because no one is reading their email invitations owing to their complete failure to avoid uninspiring, unmotivating and simply badly written subject lines.

But better subject lines are possible with help from some help from the experts:

Hubspot – Anatomy of a Five Star Subject Line 

Unbounce- Subject Line Strategies that increase your open rates

EConsultancy – 152 Killer Keywords for subject lines and 137 crappy ones – Adestra

Mail Chimp – Best Practices in writing email subject lines

Pardot – 12 Dos and Don’ts

Chiefmarketer – Crafting an Irresistible email subject line




5 Problems that are Killing Your Results

This is about hidden or ignored problems that are killing your results..

Why is our campaign failing?

There are lots of reasons why a marketing campaign can fail to deliver the intended responses from a business audience. But over the last ten years, working with B2B companies on literally hundreds of event registration, lead generation and sales support programs, I’ve found that there are some incredibly easily resolved mistakes that continue to dominate the  “Duh.Whatever were we thinking?” list.

What makes these mistakes stand out? A few things.

  • They are brutally common.
  • Most clients are aware of these problems but underestimate the impact.
  • They’re easy to make and relatively easy to fix.
  • One of them stands out because it totally blindsided everyone.

So, here are links to 5 posts that talk about things that can easily be sitting in the background and killing your marketing efforts.

  1. Ignoring Bad Data is Very Expensive
  2. Your Premium Can Turn into a Nightmare
  3. Forgetting that Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
  4. Sales Reps are Not Making The Calls For You
  5. Your Campaign is Running for Too Long

Sales Reps Won’t Make Your Calls

Unless Your sales team meets all or most of these conditions

  • Is very junior
  • Has nothing better to do
  • Is only paid by salary
  • Is not held to quotas
  • Is actually a customer service group in disguise

Your sales team is about as likely to spend their time conscientiously making your event recruitment or other marketing program calls as they are to be updating database information.

That’s not to say it will never happen. After all,  database information can be updated when the rep finds a phone number is out of date and has a new one readily available. Similarly, knowing that a conference or demo that could open a conversation is available to someone they’ve been wanting to reach  is actually very useful information for a sales rep. But, if they do manage to get that person on the phone they’ll quickly drop your registration priorities and move the conversation in their own direction.  It’s what they’re paid to do.

Even when your sales team is making invitation calls to support an event, you cannot assume that the calls will be made on your timetable, that ALL the calls will be made, that accounts that don’t look important to the rep won’t get skipped and you can’t guarantee the wording of the message.

If your plan for driving event registrations or reminders or promoting content offers, specifies that “sales will make the calls”, please step back a minute and consider what you’re asking.

Often your marketing lists will be big enough to require that if the sales team is going deliver the support you need, they’ll have to drop other work. Even the reps who want to help you are not going to blow out half their week making 150 calls to secure registrants. If they work on commission only, they cannot support you.

Often small businesses will use (abuse) their sales team by assuming that marketing support calls are part of the sales job, which they are not.  They usually reach that conclusion on the mistaken assumption that having sales make calls doesn’t cost anything, while in truth you are not only paying out too high a salary for a very low-level job, you’re also paying the huge penalty of lost revenue when sales is pulled off their real job.

If you are required to expect that you are getting support from your sales callers for any kind of marketing program, the only way to protect yourself and your program is to realistically look at what support you’re really going to get from the sales team and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Timing and Event Invitations

When do you start to promote an event?  More specifically, when is “too soon” to promote a free event and how long do you have before your unaided conversion of registrants to attendees bottoms out?

A few years ago I was working with a publisher who, in addition to their periodicals also offered webinars as an advertising vehicle. It’s was a brilliant product extension for a magazine publisher since one of their most abundant assets is a massive database that costs them peanuts to reach out to.

But, the size of the base and the negligible costs associated with emailing are a license to abuseIthink . When that happens the response rates fall. There are many ways you can deal with falling response rates, but in this instance, caught between the P&L and certain attendance commitments made to the advertisers, the company elected to simply extend the invitation process over a longer period of time and keep hitting their market until the registration commitments were met.  The average invitation campaign ran for 10 weeks up to the webinar.

But, when only about 70 of 1000 registrants actually convert into attendees, its pretty obvious something is not working. To address that problem the client chose to add voicemail event reminders and it was effective in boosting the average conversions, quite significantly. In fact, the average percentage climbed from 7% to 17%.

While it was a huge improvement, the numbers were still pretty pathetic when compared to an average unaided conversion ( at that time) of 35-50% and aided ( with voicemail ) of 50-70%.

The root problem was timing.

What we found was not at all surprising. The earliest registrants, i.e. those who registered more than 8 weeks ahead of the event converted at less than half a percent unaided and given the very low number to start with, it wasn’t possible to measure the improvement a voicemail delivered.

In fact, any registration on the free webinars that was more than a month old was virtually useless. Registrants who were less than a week old converted well above the average and a strategy that concentrated the voicemail reminders to registrations that were 1-4 weeks old yielded the best return.

For many companies, particularly those using the raw registrations to drop into the top of their funnel, attendance might not be the most important consideration, but promoting a free webinar too far ahead of the date will artificially depress your conversions and reduce the apparent value of what might otherwise be very good leads.

Take the Time to Segment Your Messages

No one doubts the importance of personalization in both consumer and business to business marketing.  In fact, it seems to me that with the use of event triggered emails and entire nurturing programs that are created to provide just the right content for an individual during their B2B buying journey, our ability to customize content is pretty exceptional.

So why do so many companies fail to take even the partial  leap from one-size-fits-all to message segmentation by title or department, when they are doing outbound marketing?

A few years ago I was working with a client and as is often the case, the actual execution of their campaign was delegated to a relatively junior person.

Quick aside – This is something I don’t understand and see all the time. The development of the strategy is hummed and hawed over by Directors and VP’s and the new managers are then stranded with the details. Ideas are a dime a dozen – I have a million of them, just give me a call – but a brilliant execution is solid gold.

As is often the case, this campaign was to promote an event and happily, this client elected to run a total of three messaging waves to their invitation list of 2,000 contacts.  The list was targeted to a single vertical, but covered both managers and directors in Marketing, Sales, IT and Finance.  Both the voicemail and email messages were, as is often the case, a bland mix of easily communicated logistical information (please someone explain to me why registrants care about what you call your event) and a fairly generic attendance benefit.

Responses were very poor. They had under 10 registrations for the event.

Taking another look at the list, we talked about the differences in the contacts they were reaching out to. Although the event featured sessions that specifically addressed issues of importance to Marketing/Sales, IT and Finance/Management, our vanilla messaging wasn’t honing in on what really mattered to any one group.  The client was not convinced that unique messaging was required since the briefing from which she was working did not specify that as one of the deliverables.  And so, the second wave of messaging went by and 10 more (I’m guessing rather reluctant) registrants signed up.

With failure looming on the not-at-all distant horizon, the manager took the briefing back to her boss, with a suggestion that responses might improve if they highlighted technical value to IT, profit implications to Finance and workload oriented benefits to their Marketing peers.

Long story short (too late for that you say?) The final wave of messaging was delayed for a few days while the list was split by departments and three recordings replaced the original one.  When the final wave of messaging ran, the value of this extra bit of work and expense was clear.  Registrations climbed from 20 to 81 for a total of almost 6% from the deliverable names on the list. they even had the opportunity to start to measure the relative appeal of the event against each of their target audiences.

The point is, people with different levels of responsibility respond to different benefits. No business challenge looks the same from every department and each has a unique perspective. Business people will only respond best to benefits (or pain points) that are meaningful to them as individuals. A single homogenous message is milk toast to everyone.

It might have worked in the past where the novelty of voicemail and email messaging alone could help to drive responses, but homogenized messages don’t cut it anymore.  Segmenting your lists into departmental and seniority clusters is not all that difficult or time-consuming to do.  But it is necessary if you want to give anyone a good enough reason to respond to your offer.

Terror of the Freebie Queen

No one in business is under the illusion that everything runs smoothly, all the time.  We do our best, but now and then things go wrong.  Sometimes it’s because we’ve messed up and sometimes the client messes up and sometimes everything goes to hell in a handbasket and neither side is at fault.

I’ve worked on hundreds of campaigns over the last ten years, thousands if I think of my whole working life and none of them were as miserable as the Tale of the Freebie Queen.

I had just secured this new client after about a year of trying and we were running their first campaign.  It was a decent size for a first campaign – around 3,000 records as I recall.  The name of the client?  Well I likely wouldn’t tell you if remembered, but honestly I don’t recall. I’ve blocked it out.

It looked like a great relationship was starting.  The client was pleasant and very professional.  They recorded a solid message and their list was a thing of beauty, (and even on time) which was really nice since it was actually a list that they had rented specifically to promote a special event.  It was a webinar, promoting a new product ( I think). The plan called for first an email invitation then a voicemail followed up by another email, followed up with another voicemail. To help promote registrations, they were offering a $10.00 Starbucks gift card to registrants. IT Directors and VP dominated the list.

We ran the campaign and the delivery rate was excellent, about 80%. Everything was looking good. The follow-up email and second voicemail ran and about 2 days after that I heard back from an ecstatic client.  Their response rate was at 15% and looking to get even better.  Which it did. The world was a wonderful place!

Problem was, the registration rate continued to climb, crossing 25%, starting to look questionable and – given the card redemption – a little pricey.  The client started looking more closely at the registrants and found a list bearing little – (actually no) resemblance to the invitation list. And now it got ugly as the only reasonable explanation that the client could come up with was that we had messaged the wrong list.

But that was not the case.  We tore through the call logs, looked at every single delivery and there were no mistakes. So, what happened?

Thanks to the magic of Google (now there’s a phrase I haven’t used in a very long time) we searched the event name, and date and found that this event had been posted on some freebie sites, promoted as “Get $10 worth of free Starbucks Coffee!” and the redemptions were hitting the site fast and furious.

With a little more digging we also uncovered that this posting was courtesy of a bottom feeding witch who will forever remain burned in my memory as Kimmie the Freebie Queen.  Looking back over the list originally provided by the client we found an IT Director – Kimberly McQueen.  Looked pretty suspicious.  Both identities listed the same smallish town as home and the original freebie posting occurred within an hour of receiving her first email.

I think the final registration count pushed to almost 1000 freebie hunters. The marketing team was so overwhelmed with the instant barrage of “where’s my gift card?” emails after the event, that the few qualified registrants got lost in the shuffle.  I think at one point they made noises about lawsuit, but while the results of our investigation into the actions of the (I still think) despicable Freebie Queen made the lawsuit noises go away, we absolutely lost a promising client.  I think the marketing manager got fired, which just wasn’t fair either, but neither is life, or business, sometimes.

Moral of the story  – “Be very careful that the value of your premium isn’t too attractive to the wrong audience and always stipulate that it’s ONLY offered to QUALIFIED participants.”




Better Tradeshow Results

If you want more from your trade shows and marketing events, promote in advance and – even better, give potential visitors a reason to make your booth a planned and positively anticipated stop on the show floor. Standing in your booth with a fake smile and trying to engage people  spontaneously as they wander down the aisle looking for the coolest doo-dad giveaway, is a waste of your time and the investment you’ve made in the show.

Although very few show organizers will share the registration list with exhibitors, maybe that would change if enough companies were to ask for the list and demonstrate to the organizers that their advance list is a revenue stream they’re missing out on. Aside from that, failing to communicate in advance of the show to a list of companies and potential prospects for whom there is a reasonable expectation of attendance is a wasted opportunity on several levels.

Among the real attendees:

  • You’re missing out on an opportunity to raise the profile of your company against an anonymous herd of competitors.
  • You’re throwing away the perfect chance to actually meet someone who might just be an email contact right now.
  • You’re giving your competitors the first shot
  • You’re replacing a planned visit with “chance” and wasting at least part of the considerable investment you’ve made in the show.

Among the non-attendees, you’ve missed a chance to align your company with a major industry event, demonstrating that you are a real player in the market. You could have built some basic awareness by linking your company to an event that other people are paying to promote. Your event promotions might have actually enticed a fence-sitter to attend the show and also, since you’re in town anyway, what about booking meetings with prospects not in attendance?

Companies actively looking to buy will use a show to check out competitive offerings so its easy to identify your high priority contacts, but what can you do to grab their attention?

Many companies want to schedule tradeshow meetings, often at their booth and sometimes in a hotel or other facility.  Meetings are great, but what compelling reason can you provide to really motivate someone to want to schedule time to listen to a sales pitch? (That’s what they expect)  Honestly, seeing a demo of your new product, might not be enough to light their world on fire so you had better come up with something interesting and relevant. At the very least, I suggest schedule meetings to accommodate any conference events, (like right after the keynotes etc.) and offering a decent bite to eat along with a chance to get off their feet will help your cause.

These meetings are about the highest value activity you can have at a trade show so it’s worth the time and effort to build much of your event marketing around them.  Don’t expect emails or a single phone call to do this job. Use your sales or customer service managers to phone out personal invitations and don’t hesitate to leave voicemail messages to mix up your written communications with an enthusiastic voice. This is an excellent way to direct your cold calling and you can use guided voicemail since it will take a lot of calls to get the meetings booked.  But every call you make is also building your pre-show promotion so there are side benefits as well.

Trade shows and events are one of the few chances you have to get your Senior Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Execs in front of prospective and current customers- use them.

A Client Testimonial

It is always welcome and heartily appreciated, when one of our clients takes the time to send in a written testimonial about their experience with our company and service.

Promoting Conferences with Boxpilot

 “We’ve used Boxpilot on several occasions to promote our conferences and have been absolutely delighted with the results. On any typical email campaign we send (without Boxpilot), we receive between 5-10 personal responses that are directed back to the sender. (Personal messages like “Thanks for letting me know” or “Appreciate the conference update”…) When we use Boxpilot, that number is always exponentially higher. In fact, for one campaign we received 45 responses!  Each time we use Boxpilot, it’s proven to be a fantastic tool for getting through the clutter. But it’s also helped drive conference registrations. For example, one campaign saw an increase in conference registrations around a particular incentive by 40% vs each of the two years prior. Boxpilot is now a regular part of our conference marketing plan!”

Brian Rosenberg, SVP Sales & Marketing

Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)