Event Participation is an important marketing activity for any organization. The key benefits of participating in any event include:
- Ensuring your organization’s presence in multiple external / relevant forums – This is vital for the company’s brand image
- Business Networking – An opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen existing one’s
- Lead Generation – Identification of prospects to position your service offerings
- An appreciation of industry trends and perspectives from multiple views
- Insights into where your competitors and partners are headed
Many organizations invest significantly in participating in events. However, do they get the real return on their investments? After all, event participation comes at a price – both in terms of the event participation fee and absence from work for the identified attendees. If you / your organization are participating in an event, do keep in mind the following:
1. Objective of Event Participation – It is important to have clearly defined objectives of why you / your organization are participating in an event. Whatever be the objective, it is vital that this is explicitly communicated to the team attending the event and to the management who is approving the budgets for event participation. For e.g.: If you are participating in a Marketing Conference, then the primary objective for an organization could be to understand how to effectively utilize modern marketing platforms and social media as a part of your organization’s marketing strategy. On the other hand if you are a participant at Technology Product Event, your objective could be to understand the new offerings from the product vendor, build / enhance networks with peers / partners / customers & analysts and lead generation. While some of these objectives cannot be really quantified and measured, for other’s it is worthwhile to set an explicit target. For e.g.: Speak to at least 3 direct competitor’s to gain insights into their offerings OR to identify at least 10 qualified potential prospects who would be interested in your service offerings.
2. Selection of the Right Event Attendees – Any organization can get maximum benefit of its event participation if they identify and invest in sending the right individuals / teams to attend an event. For e.g.: If an individual who is playing a Marketing / Techno-Marketing role within an IT organization attends A Marketing event, then he / she will be able to appreciate, contribute and also possibly apply the learning’s from the event.
Also, Soft skills are an extremely important pre-requisite for the choice of an attendee – The key one’s being an ability to effectively communicate (and this really means an ability to be clear and brief in expression. And the pre-requisite for this is clarity in thought), an ability to build new networks with peers & strengthen existing relationships and most importantly, an openness to listen, learn, express and discuss your view-points in a larger forum. Of course, knowledge in the specified area needs no specific mention.
3. Action Plan for the Event – Many events tend to have a combination of speaker sessions, discussions, a networking lunch / dinner, etc. Based on the objective of your participation in an event, it is imperative to distribute the activities among the attendees. An internal discussion before the event is worthwhile as this enables in building a rapport among the attendees, and helps in articulating expectations within the team. A well-thought action plan provides a guideline to attendees on how they should structure their time during the event
4. Post-Event Activities – While there is great enthusiasm and fervor before and during an event, this usually dies down after an event. It is however valuable to invest some time in the following:
- Post-Event Review with the attendees and management to assess the success with respect to the stated objectives
- Consolidation of Event related materials in a common space which is a good reference for the future
- Knowledge sharing among colleagues / peers / teams on learning’s, insights, trends, interesting observations, data points, etc. One good best practice is to send out an event update communication (could be a simple mail) providing event highlights and key take-away’s
- Continue to maintain relationships with the event organizers, peers, analysts, customers, etc. This is vital for both professional and personal growth
5. Lead Conversion for the identified prospects - Very focused efforts are required to qualify the list of potential prospects. A set of 5 – 10 criteria can be used for qualification. For e.g.: Level of interest in your services, budget availability, historical spend-trend patterns, alignment of your offerings with customer’s requirements, etc. Once the qualification is complete, a discussion with the potential prospect is the next logical step to plan the way forward based on the customer’s need, priorities and interest.
What do you keep in mind before your participate in an event? Leave a comment to let me know.
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