Differentiating your business from your competition is a great way to increase your customer base, and incorporating live business events into the marketing mix can do just that while building your bottom line. According to “Book Yourself Solid” author Michael Port, a business event strategy allows you to accomplish three important elements of your small business marketing plan.
3 Business Event Benefits
1. Leverage your time
Instead of scheduling multiple sales calls and client interviews, you can direct those initial conversations to your live events. Port says that a strong business event strategy puts you in front of more potential clients in a shorter amount of time.
2. Position yourself as a connector
When your events include time for conversations, connections and referrals, your prospects and clients see you as more of a maven than a vendor. Your willingness to connect attendees to each other can add a spark that boosts your own reputation.
3. Leverage the power of community
Taking the spotlight off of yourself and shining it on your attendees may generate real excitement among your audience.
Putting clients and prospects in the same room, either virtual or physical, gives you the social proof you need to build your credibility as a solutions provider. Clients can offer instant testimonials, while you cultivate long-term prospects without distracting from your daily routine.
How to Develop Compelling Event Presentations
The very best business events avoid “pitching from the stage” almost entirely. Instead of honing a sales presentation, use these proven formats to engage your audience.
- Recipes for success. Celebrity chefs give away their best secrets every day, without endangering business at their restaurants. Instead of delivering a typical sales pitch, demonstrate how you achieve success for your clients. The right prospects may prefer to let you handle the heavy lifting instead of doing it on their own.
- Interviews with thought leaders. Invite authors, CEOs and noted consultants to share insight about your industry.
- Panel discussions on key issues facing your community. Moderating a compelling conversation can position you at the center of solutions that enrich your neighborhood and your industry.
Sharing the podium with other speakers lets you grow your potential audience exponentially. Business leaders pay closer attention to collaborative events, since they’re less likely to include sales presentations.
Where and When to Stage Small Business Events
Instead of trying to book appearances at expensive, oversaturated industry conferences, you may get just as much traction by staging your own events online, over the phone or at nearby venues.
- Schedule a routine conference call or teleseminar. Effective business events don’t always require lavish spaces. Michael Port recommends using inexpensive conference call lines or webinar services to stage virtual events on a regular schedule. With virtually no overhead, you should be able to guarantee that you always have a new event to which you can invite new prospects.
- Stage in-person events during off-peak times. According to event planning expert Annette Naif, you’ll spend lots of money on event space if you’re trying to compete with conferences, weddings, and private parties. Naif advises clients on a budget to partner with local hotels and event spaces to fill off-season dates at discount prices.
Blending an “office hours” call with a selection of special events lends some urgency to your plan, and adds freshness to your social media and marketing campaigns.
Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for more than two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. He recently completed a personal finance book entitled The Rogue Guide to Credit Cards; (Rogue Guide Books, 2012).
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