The best way to influence people is to share an emotion. An event is the perfect platform to create and improve relationships with a business-to-business audience in this digital focused age.
Sharing emotions allows people to change their minds. That’s why you take your date to a restaurant or cinema. That’s why people fall in love at concerts and why they turn anger into action after a strong speech delivered during a political rally. Once you have listened and watched the same ‘show on stage’, the received information and inspiration changes the wiring of your brain. You now have a connection with the person or people on stage and with the person who's was sitting next to you. This is a sound basis for a relationship and relationships are the way to convert a lead, upsell and cross-sell.
These days marketeers see digital communication as panacea for all challenges. Indeed, for many situations where information needs to be sent or received, digital indeed is great. It is efficient, cheap, real time and easy to track.
Yet there is a flaw – digital communication is ideal for maintaining existing relationships. Business contacts who are already on board as your client will receive and see – in most cases not read – your newsletter. Similarly, professionals already in your network can be reached via email, social channels and the company website.
Digital communications will not grow your network and will not bring the existing relationship with clients and other stakeholders to a new level. Through an event you will be able to add emotion to the relationship. It will move away from the rational elements of a connection: availability, ease of use and price. A well-executed event can add new contacts to your network and allow existing relationships to deepen.
Effective events are equal parts information and inspiration. Make sure you include both. Information without any inspiration will be dull and not generate any emotional response; it is heard and seen yet not digested. It is the combination that makes the difference.
To maximize your return, make an event the pinnacle of your marketing campaign. Find your target audience, the stakeholders that need to know about your company, product or brand.
The process starts with the save-the-date and is enforced with the invitation and the reminder and confirmation. All these moments or touch points are opportunities to communicate your messages to the audience even before the event. The event itself should be, well organized, engaging and with a program that speaks to the needs and interests of the audience.
The key to generate results is how communication is handled after the event itself. Often companies do not realize that the no shows are still part of the target audience. Send follow-up information to people that registered and were not able to attend discussing the main points of what happened onsite. Generate branded content that can be used in media relations, direct marketing and across your own channels.
A well-organized event can add most importantly – emotion – to relationships both old and new, increasing customer happiness, retention and create the opportunity for more sales.
Richard Neve is the Managing Director of Cognito Amsterdam.