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Here are the best tactics and techniques for generating leads, prospecting and creating sales within the event industry.
Generating business is vital to every freelance event planner and agency, whether it is selling ticket to your events or getting hired for an event project. Prospecting involves creating leads and interest from potential clients or encouraging ticket sales for your events. While you may feel like you have quality leads already, it is important that you keep generating new ones to replace those that go cold or dry up while you are working your current list.
Here are some of the most effective tactics for generating sales and prospecting as well as some top tips to help guarantee success. Mixing up techniques and tactics can increase the potential and enable you to tap into different market demographics to generate warm or hot leads. Don’t just stick to one or two on the list, see what works best for you, your brand and events.
We will get this one out of the way first as it’s the most commonly used method of prospecting and although can be time consuming and fills many with dread, if done right then it does work. The quality of leads plays a big role in effectiveness but that is not to say you can’t convert cold leads to hot ones with the right sales technique and charm! It works because many people may not have actually heard of your event or brand so as a bare minimum it spreads awareness, even if it doesn’t always convert to sales.
Networking in person at events is an excellent prospecting opportunity that can give a potential lead more trust because they have physically seen and interacted with you. Ensuring that you generate relationships and soft network while you are at your own events can also generate warm leads because you are showcasing your talents there and then. Opportunities often materialize in this way, but if someone talks to you about using your event management services it is important to follow up afterwards to ensure you stay in the forefront of their mind.
Boost networking to make it more effective by attending trade shows, exhibitions and industry specific networking events that directly appeal to your demographic and target leads but remember to create a relationship and build it up over time, you don’t want to come across as too pushy or sales focused and put them off.
By offering value online to potential leads and clients you are already showing how you can be helpful to them and that you are worth the money as it can be an excellent way to showcase skills and excite them, which can then convert to sales later on. Great ways you could do this would be to have a website or blog offering free content to help users as well as eBooks, reports and webinars to suit your niche or even interviews and collaborations with industry influencers.
That being said content marketing is extremely popular so there could be reasons why your event content marketing efforts aren’t working so ensure you perfect your strategy before going ahead.
Referrals usually generate hot or warm leads because someone else has recommended the lead to you. This is great for sales prospecting as they have an element of trust in you from the referrer already, making them easier to convert to sales. The direct contact with the referrer and the “proof” and recommendation makes these types of leads very effective and perhaps this new client will go on to recommend you to others in the future.
Door To Door
This is an outdated tactic but particularly in the senior demographic, many find door to door sales beneficial because they can be interactive, answer questions there and then adapt to whoever opens the door to choose the best pitch for them (which is something that digital marketing can lack). The personal connection also creates a higher level of trust, forming warmer leads, but the downside is that it can be time consuming and doesn’t suit larger event needs. That being said it is great brand awareness within a geographical location and marketing for newly located businesses and local events may benefit from this approach. If you were running a music festival it would also be a courtesy to let local residents know it is taking place in case they have any concerns.
For a combination of networking and content marketing, seminars provide an in person opportunity to meet similar industry professionals and increase B2B marketing to generate client or collaborative leads. This is particularly beneficial when looking for event suppliers or sponsors that you are aiming to work with and introduces you to contacts which could improve your prospecting efforts.
Call To Action
You should also consider static prospecting such as landing pages and newsletter sign-ups that can generate new leads for you from the foot traffic of your website and requires minimal effort. Creating a double opt in for your subscribers helps to highlight those who are actually interested and these can be effective leads once you have build a relationship with them and you do this by providing great content to them.
Landing pages and pop-ups are particularly useful for ticket sales for major events as it directs your website traffic straight to an advert for the event and showcases it to someone who is already looking at you online and so can already be considered as partly interested!
With most people using their smartphones, email marketing has replaced mail marketing when it comes to effectiveness. It’s adaptive to hard or soft selling, can provide value and links to a variety of different sites if you are trying to cover your bases and can easily be tracked to see what exactly is working and what isn’t so you can remove cold leads from your list or adjust timings to suit.
It’s important to note that direct mail marketing can still be beneficial as it is so unusual nowadays so it can be a good way to cut through the noise. Include a strong call to action so you can determine who is interested or receptive to further follow up. Depending on your demographic it shouldn’t be discounted altogether or may be worth testing on a small sample group to find out the conversion rate.
Drive Sales with Emotions
Emotions drive our decisions and the reasons why customers make the purchasing choices that they do. If you understand the motivations and sell the ‘why’ rather than ‘what’ you can use this to drive your future event sales. Most people think that it’s logic that drives the key decisions that we make in life, whether professional or personal, but actually it’s our emotions that are responsible for just about every decision we make – and not just the events we attend.
Prospecting can be time consuming, boring and difficult to motivate yourself to do, however, leads won’t generate themselves so ensure that you consistently set time aside to focus on this activity so that you don’t find excuses to keep putting it off. Use a Google Spreadsheet or a specific CRM tool to accurately record potential leads to explore.
Offer Affiliates and Referrals
Get current clients and attendees to do some of the work for you by offering affiliate or referrals that allow them and their referrers discounts on tickets or products in exchange for signing up. You could also offer cash incentives and a percentage return for big earners and it allows them to do the marketing, follow up and “selling” themselves which can often be more effective as they are a trusted source within their tribe. The one point to remember is ensuring that affiliates are representing your brand accurately and appropriately so that they don’t damage your image.
Have active social media accounts, make it valuable and remember that different platforms suit different demographics, so it is best to choose those specific to who you are targeting. Active and engaging social media platforms show that you are serious and makes you easily searchable for leads who may be interested and want to do their own research on you. It is important to remember that social media is not a replacement for prospecting and that even though you can generate leads this way, it shouldn’t be all you use it for.
Don’t just sell, sell, sell as that is the biggest way to turn off your potential customers. You need to offer things in return, prove your value and show that you value them rather than just wanting to take their money. You could offer money off tickets, vouchers or coupons for sponsors or even articles and blog content that could solve some of their problems. This shows a level of engagement with the leads that forms more of a relationship and makes them more conducive to buying from you in the future.
It is important to know where you are wasting time and whether a lead is worth it or not, particularly in sales and prospecting where it can become a bit of a numbers game. Track lead effectiveness, have they returned or are they going cold? It can help to determine what to do with them next, do you cut them loose or utilise them if they are very valuable?
Work the List
It usually takes several interactions with a lead before they convert and in many cases this involves following up with them, inviting them to events that might interest them or answering questions or hesitations that they might have. Consider that each of the leads needs to be treated as individual relationships and by consistently working the list you will warm up the leads and turn them hot!
While you might want to cast a wide net and see what you catch, this can be time consuming and lead to you wasting time on those who aren’t going to convert to leads no matter how hard you try! Find a focus and demographic that you can particularly relate to and target them specifically. People react better to sales that are personalised and make them feel special. Work out your ideal attendee or customer profile and target them specifically for new leads and conversions, using tactics that would specifically appeal to them e.g. for the younger generation social media and your website may be the top priority, for the older generation try door to door or cold calling.
Overall it is important not to limit your approach to one avenue when it comes to prospecting and sales and ensure that you are choosing the right channel to suit your demographic. Keep things interesting for yourself and be quirky and fun to stand out to leads among the sea of other event planners trying to make a sale. Lastly remember to give value to leads and build a relationship with them because a few long term, quality leads are better than a long list of cold ones!