Events can serve many purposes for businesses; helping to raise their brand profile, provide education and build communities.
They can also directly drive business by providing the opportunity to meet with potential customers and stay close to existing ones.
According to Eventbrite’s 2016 Pulse Report, small-to-medium sized businesses are the most likely of all the organiser types to use events for lead generation.
Live events can be more effective than digital tactics for generating leads because of the human interaction that enables people to get a better feel for you and your business.
It offers both parties the chance to enter into dialogue, meaning you can find out exactly what your customers want and need – and discover any reservations they might have to doing business with you (you can’t find this out via a Pay Per Click campaign).
In addition to the benefits that come from meeting in the flesh, hosting an event enables you to collect valuable information through the registration process.
Eventbrite customers can use the Custom Questions feature to tailor the details attendees provide upon registration. For example, a computer hardware company hosting an educational workshop could ask attendees questions about their current computer technology, plans to upgrade and potential budget.
Equipped with this sort of information, the sales team can easily identify the strongest leads and set about nurturing them.
For more examples of how companies can use events to fill their pipelines with strong leads we asked three experts:
Nigel Twumasi, Co-Founder of Mayamada
Mayamada is a creative brand encompassing its own comic, clothing range and confectionery. The company runs a regular gaming event and other events such as anime screenings as well as exhibiting at comic cons.
“We have an on-going video game event called GamePad which we launched last year. We do them quarterly as a way to build a community around our brand and to forge partnerships with other companies.
“At the event, we have a number of game consoles set up and people can play casually but we also have competitions where we give prizes. In March, we partnered with video game publisher Ubisoft to support the event, who came down with new games and more prizes
“As well as the gaming that goes on, we also have a pop-up shop so people are able to buy direct from us at the event. It allows our fans to meet the people behind the brand and new people to check out what we do.
“We also exhibit at a lot of comic conventions and make a lot of sales there. We get a lot of cross over too, with people meeting us at the exhibition and then coming to one of our events, or visa versa.
“Our events our currently free but we ticket them through Eventbrite to keep track of the numbers and collect attendee email addresses. One of the questions we ask is, ‘Do you want to be added to our mailing list?’, which enables us to grow our marketing database. We also ask if they found us through any particular website as it’s potential for forming future partnerships.”
Michelle Ovens MBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK
Michelle is Director for Small Business Saturday in the UK, a campaign to support, inspire and promote small businesses. She was awarded MBE in June 2015 for Services to Enterprise.
“One of the most important things for small businesses is repeat custom – small businesses really don’t have the time and money to be constantly chasing new customers so if you can get the same ones coming back time and time again, then you are going to reduce your cost and effort for marketing.
“But it is hard to build this kind of relationship online only – meeting people face to face, and having a memorable experience with them, is much more likely to embed you in your customers’ minds than a few emails. Real world events and experiences stay with people much longer.
“With that in mind, the more memorable your event the better! The great thing about small businesses is the individual character they bring – no two are the same! So make the most of that individuality when planning an event and ensure your personality comes through.
“Partnering is critical for small business success – networks and supportive friends make the difference between a successful businesses and a less successful one. This is something that is much more easily done for real world events than online – work with your local neighbouring businesses and give yourselves a) a bigger audience to go after, b) tap into your pals’ expertise and ideas and c) give your customers a more varied experience / more reasons to turn up by having more than one business to engage with and talk about.
“I don’t think events have to be expensive either. As I have said, partnering can be a great way to have an event and it can also allow you to share the cost. Venues don’t have to be expensive – try local small business cafes or even clear a space in your own business, whatever that may be. I went to a dinner in an MOT garage last night! Why not?
“Remember that people are not coming to a small business for a super slick expensive evening – they are coming to hear about you and experience something a bit different.”
Anita Engebretsen, Senior Events Manager at emc3
emc3 is a London-based events agency delivering brand experiences across five continents for companies like LinkedIn and Hubspot.
“Clients see the importance of events for converting leads into clients because this is the time that puts them physically in front of their clients. It’s especially important for our tech-led clients, where business is done largely online or over the phone.
“The value of bringing together existing and prospective clients is that prospectives can understand first-hand how the product or service works and can be useful to them. It provides prospective clients with real-life case studies, honest feedback and links them with advocates of their product/service.
“There are a number of things that we suggest, and have been implemented by our clients, to attract prospective and existing clients to their events.
“We understand the delegates on the event circuit attend MANY events, so for our clients, there is a need to create an event that will wow, inspire, educate and entertain their guests. One of our motto’s is the saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” by Maya Angelou. And that’s true about delegates; they want to make lasting memories.
“Some of these include transforming spaces into completely new environments such as Ice Caves, Future Worlds, Magical Forests and Above City Rooftops. Delegates don’t expect you to turn a venue into something new, and appreciate they are in a space that has been built bespoke for them for the duration of the event. The great thing is if they miss the event the first time, they’ll want to go to the next one just because they’ve heard so much about the last one!
“Beyond that, we provide our clients with other successful solutions such as experiential event technology. Likewise, having an ‘on the pulse’ and relevant keynote speaker at an event is equally a great pull for prospective and new clients.”
Running events can bring in a fresh flow of potential customers and prevent your pipeline from drying up.
Use events strategically for data capture, as well as relationship building, and your sales team will always have warm, qualified leads to work with, boosting your prospect to client conversion rate.