Events can be a powerful call to action. They can also be a source of stress as a marketing tool because it can really put a firm’s reputation on the line. The embarrassment at having only two people show up for an event is tangible and gives a poor first impression to the limited audience members. This stress often leads trainers, consultants, and professional coaches to make irrational decisions about timing that set their marketing up for failure.
Last week a client emailed and said, “I have an event coming up next week but it’s not on the site. Can you set up an event webpage and send out an email invitation?”
The first problem with the request is the obvious one. One week’s advance notice will limit the availability of much of the audience. Typically an event should be set up and promotions started at least 4 weeks in advance (2-3 weeks for webinars). More complex events will require more lead time than that. A week’s advance notice for any event is unlikely to generate much interest for someone seeing the event for the first time.
When we followed up on the event our client said, “I need to get the invite out because I’ve invited a couple people who are coming, but that’s it. I need to fill the room.” When we asked how long the event had been scheduled for our client said, “I put it on my calendar a month ago but I have an event this week and a second one next week which we’ve focused our marketing on. This one just slipped through the cracks.”
This highlights the second problem. Clumping too many events together tends to cause your own events to compete with one another. A good rule of thumb is not having an event within a month of another unless they are being marketed to distinctly different groups.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and stress out about an event. Put an event calendar together by quarter, 6 month, or yearly schedules. That can serve as a guideline for promotional timing and ensure that you have sufficient time to fill the room.
A lower cost item can serve as a bridge between marketing and sales as it makes the initial sale easier. This is especially true for trainers, consultants, and professional coaches who typically have services that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Finding a lower cost introductory product or service can highlight expertise and pave the way for larger engagements.
A book or in depth industry analysis are great products that can be offered at a fairly nominal cost. The difference between these items and download reports is that they offer detailed reporting and are likely to take significant effort to create. The cost is justified given the wealth of data or information provided. They serve the purpose of engaging with an interested party but are prime credibility builders. The have the added advantage of being authored on your topic of expertise so any issues that the reader identifies with, you become the obvious expert to solve them.
An assessment and report process can be a service version of a book or industry analysis. Many times a marketing audience won’t be ready to buy a full service from a trainer, consultant, or professional coach but know that they could benefit from their service. Offering an introductory assessment and personalized report can be a lower cost way of helping potential buyers see the value you can bring to their specific issues. An example might be a personality profile for a manager. The trainer, consultant, or professional coach could compare that manager’s profile to stated objectives or success benchmarks to identify strengths and weaknesses. It highlights how the manager could improve and leads nicely into training or development programs to maximize potential.
Spend some time identifying a lower priced product or service as an introduction. It’s something that marketing communications can often sell directly and serves as a way of starting the sales process with interested parties.
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