R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Posted July 3rd, 2009 by admin with No Comments

I was chatting with a friend (who happens to be a customer service representative) about the challenge of customer service. Perhaps to over simplify, there are three kinds of customers:

1.  The push-over customers that pays full price, and never asks for or gets a deal.
2.  There are the customers that will treat you respectfully and want the same in return.
3.  Then, there are those with a sense of entitlement. These people think you owe them something.

No one wants to be in categories one or three – category two is ideal.

From a business perspective, steering customers down the middle of the road is the best of the three options anyway. But how can you make your customers into the customers you want them to be?

Well, the key word to remember is respect. Respect isn’t an automatic thing we can expect, we have to nurture it in all relationships. When you’re a business, you need to prove you deserve respect in order to attain it.

There is hidden value in

·  respecting your customer
·  respecting your staff
·  contributing to your industry, etc.

If you’re in business for the quick buck, you’re more likely to attract a one-time sale. Respect, rather, leads to mutually beneficial long-term relationships.

So why the discussion about customer service on an event blog?

Events provide a foundation for category two kind of customers. Face-to-face interaction promotes respect, builds relationships, and creates comfort for the long-term. Demonstrate your value as a partner over time with educational seminars. Show your appreciation with a courtesy dinner. Bring industry names together for a networking opportunity.

Events help you avoid the customer service conundrums of push-overs on the one side of the spectrum and spoiled customers on the other. Events nurture real business relationships where the customer is satisfied and the company can count on future sales.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Avoid the Awkward

Posted June 29th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

When attendees arrive at an event what do you do?

·  Sit patiently at the registration desk for new arrivals to approach you?
·  Let the directional signs do their job and wait in the main presentation room?
·  Do you recognize an attendee and spark up a chat with that one person?

During an event our daily instincts might take over and we can forget best practice behaviours. If you act like a stranger as attendees arrive you are dooming your event to an awkward beginning.

Remember these “To Dos” as your event registrants roll in:

  1. Look for lost faces.
  2. Ask if arrivals are looking for (name your event)?
  3. Direct people to the event space and let them know what to expect. (e.g. Feel free to take a seat. Or… Jessica will take care of you at the registration desk.  Or… There are muffins and coffee through that door, make yourself at home.)
  4. Introduce yourself.
  5. Engage registrants in a relevant pre-event chat. (e.g. So, have you been researching (product or service) for a while or will this be your introduction?
  6. Ask individuals about their business challenges and what they’re hoping to get out of the event.
  7. Keep it casual and be approachable.
  8. Let arrivals know you’re available to answer any questions they may have.

Avoiding the awkward moments before an event begins requires that you have your host/ess hat on from the moment attendees descend on your event venue. Making people comfortable will ease a natural and productive event execution while also setting the foundations for a trusting business relationship.

Originally posted on starshot.com

MySpace and Facebook and Twitter…Oh My

Posted June 22nd, 2009 by admin with No Comments

The ongoing Twitter Revolution in Iran forces marketers to consider the value of social media.  Especially in the events segment of the marketing world, the way we might use tools such as Twitter and Facebook may not be self evident.  However, as is obvious today in Iran, the micro nature of Twitter and the reach and proliferation of social media is what makes it so powerful.  Able to withstand the argument that this is a mundane, useless, and insubstantial flash-in-the-pan trend, we need to constantly challenge ourselves to put these tools to use.

Not every social media tool will serve a purpose for every industry, but we’re event marketers. Eclectic and dynamic resources keep our audiences on their toes. Not to mention, these tools can be leveraged across platforms. While there isn’t enough time in a day to populate content on all social media forums, readers are likely to pick their favourites. If you master Twitter but neglect MySpace, perhaps you’re isolating your product, service, or event, from an interested prospect. So, invest your time in the medium you prefer and then leverage that medium across other popular tools. For example, focus on Twitter but set your tweets to post automatically to Facebook and your blog. Or focus on your blog but post to twitter when a new blog entry is available and set up an RSS feed to your Facebook page.

Challenge yourself to put social media to work for your next event. Have an attendee tweet live from the event. Encourage attendees to post event reviews on your Facebook event wall. The buzz alone might attract valuable attention.

Relationship Marketing

Posted June 15th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

If events have one overarching purpose it is to nurture relationships.

Effective marketing is based on long-term, mutually beneficial relationships that are valuable for all involved parties.  Relationship marketing is about transcending the simple purchase-exchange process for a more fulfilling and rewarding outcome.

Events are the best intentional and interactive way to appreciate your prospects and their business challenges.  By hosting an event, you can shape the dialogue and focus on (and respond to) your prospect’s specific needs in a real-time conversation.

While events can involve the spreading of information, problem solving exercises, case study presentations, and product demonstrations, each one of these objectives can be realized via other mediums as well.  Events are not always better than brochureware, web copy, chat boards, call centres, direct mail, or demonstrations depending on the objective the tactic is meant to achieve.  So if all of this is true, why are events so successful?

Events are successful because

·  they deliver the greatest return on investment
·  they can directly initiate the sales process
·  they help initiate and maintain the client-provider relationship
·  they say “you’re worth my time” to prospects
·  they give you the opportunity to show that you care about the real struggles your prospects face

Just as testimonials are powerful on websites and direct mail, opening up a transparent discussion between your prospects reinforces the strength and confidence of your brand.  By cultivating trust and community centred on your prospects’ needs, you are creating a relationship.  And in this relationship you are the trusted resource.

For more of Hugh McLeod’s great cartoons drawn on the back of business cards swing over to www.gapingvoid.com

Sometimes companies mistakenly see events as glorified sales calls.  Certainly your event should end with a specific call to action such as “book an appointment for an assessment” or “complete this survey and tell us about your biggest challenges.”   But confusing an event for an outright sales call can cost you.

You may be seen as arrogant, pushy, self-interested…all things you would be better off to avoid.  These characteristics hinder the  foundations of a solid business relationship.

Never settle for the event plan that seems obvious.  Challenge yourself and your team to consider your upcoming event as a relationship building exercise.  And remember the elements necessary to all relationships: common ground, mutual respect, and mutual benefit.

Use your next event to establish these relationship elements because a relationship with your prospect community is the only way you stand a chance of getting on your prospect’s radar when they’re ready to make a purchase.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

21 Ways to Promote Your Event

Posted June 9th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Depending on the size and topic of your event, the marketing methods available to you may differ. Especially if you run a lot of events things can get stale. Getting creative means switching it up, especially for your important and large events. Here are 21 ways to promote your event.

1.  Buy your domain name as soon as you have a title for your event.
2.  Start a blog on the topic or problem your event intends to address. Start this well in advance of your event so you can build a community of interested people. If you’re event is around the corner, it’s not too late. Start now and promote the blog at the event. This will help you keep a targeted audience for next time.
3.  Reach out to associations and groups interested in the topic of your event. Ask this group to share the event information with its community.
4.  Write a few articles on your event topic and submit them to article directories with a plug for the upcoming event at the end of the article.
5.  Do some radio research and offer to provide an expert for an interview to plug your event.
6.  Plan a contest with prizes.
7.  Search some topic-related online groups to see if you can network with them.
8.  Create an email signature for every email you send that links to your event web page or invitation.
9.  Submit your Web site to the top five directories: Google, MSN, Alexa, Yahoo, and DMOZ
10.  Write a great press release and submit it to online press release sites.
11.  Start your own email newsletter; it’s a great way to keep your audience informed on your latest events and hot topics.
12.  Post your event to a public event calendar.
13.  Use social media outlets like My Space, Facebook and Twitter to promote your event and share post-event feedback.
14.  Leave your business card, invitation, or flyer at important industry hot spots.
15.  Pitch local television stations and shows to do an interview with one of your experts.
16.  Pitch your event to local print media.
17.  Create a press kit with relevant Q&As for interested media.
18.  Is the topic of your event in the news? Check newspapers and online media then write a letter to the editor to share your expertise.
19.  Don’t forget to add event reviews and client testimonials to your Web site.
20.  Trying to meet the press? Search the Net for Press Clubs in your area, they meet once a month and are a great place to meet the media.
21.  Ready to get some magazine exposure? Why not pitch some industry specific publications with your event topic or submit a freelance article for reprint consideration.

Choose marketing tools that meet the following two criteria. Firstly, always choose tools that target your choice audience–there’s no point in having a million event attendees with irrelevant interests. Secondly, whatever you choose to do, do it well–half-assed marketing can be worse than no marketing at all.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Your Event is Worth More Than You Think

Posted June 9th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Whether an event is free or fee-based, prospects need to be consciously aware that your events have tremendous value. Quantify this value with a sticker price and refer to intangible benefits whenever possible.

This perception of value dramatically improves response rates, decreases drop-offs, and attracts better qualified leads.

You may have seen this principle applied to art museum exhibits. When you walk by a giant mural of a red stripe on a white background, you don’t pay much attention to it. But place a price tag of $2.5 million on it, and suddenly people crowd around it, fascinated.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Your Audience Doesn’t Care About Your Perspective

Posted June 5th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

The first words in every piece of marketing communications are crucial. Whether you’re drafting an invitation, delivering a presentation, or confirming a registration, you need to spend time considering those first few words.

Consider the following opening statement options:

It doesn’t matter if yours is a large enterprise with dedicated copywriters, a small shop with staff members wearing multiple hats, or a business that outsources all creative/marketing materials, you need to make a best practice of scrutinizing the opening statements in all market-facing communications.

Humans react to psychological triggers and can get jaded very quickly. Always introducing yourself the same way at the opening of a presentation gets old quickly. Even you will get bored as your delivery gets more and more stagnant from repeating yourself again and again. Worse still is that filters in the human brain will tell your audience that the message they’re about to receive is unimportant and not stimulating. Instead of working hard to keep the audience’s attention through all the elements of your speech you will have lost them from the word “hello.”

The same way we appreciate the importance of refining a marketing headline, so too must we prioritize the opening comment beneath the headline.

Always re-read your text and ask yourself whether you’ve written what the audience wants to hear/read or what you really want to say. No one cares who you are or how you know what you do. At least they won’t care about those details until they discover you have something valuable to share in the first place.

The CURE for Floundering Presenters

Posted May 28th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Your event presentation is where the real relationship begins. While you’ve made introductions through the invitation, rsvp, registration and confirmation stages, chances are your first meaningful face-to-face interaction starts with your event presentation.

Pleasantries have been exchanged and–like a first date–attendees are about to discover whether they made a mistake for accepting the invitation. Since a relationship’s beginnings are so important, it is a good exercise to examine presentation best practices before you head to the microphone.

In The Art of Public Speaking, author Stephan Lucas suggests there are four specific styles of persuasive speaking.  An event presentation and a sales pitch are two different things, so you don’t want to be persuasive like you might be in a sales call but learning the art of persuasion is still a wise step.

Some public speaking gurus have taken Lucas’s ideas and summarized them into the C.U.R.E.  This approach suggests that you accept the role you play in curing an audience of its resistance to your message.

The elements of C.U.R.E. are as follows:

C – Credibility

U – Use of Evidence

R – Reasoning

E – Emotion

Building credibility is a crucial first step in public speaking. Miss this piece and, it doesn’t matter how convincing you sound, you simply won’t be trusted. Credibility is based on confidence and measurable results. So, first thing’s first: Are you prepared enough for your presentation that you can be confident to deliver? Whatever else you do, be prepared! You can cite your credentials, experience, or passion for the topic. You can use facts and statistics to establish value. Basically, if you want to be heard, you have to give your audience members a speaker they can trust.

Now, just because you’re standing behind the podium doesn’t make you right. You may be convinced that a product, service, or attitude (for that matter) can deliver REAL results. You may be passionate and you may be right. But, you need to remember you believe it cause you saw it. Use evidence to turn your opinion to reality. Testimonials, expert opinions, and personal anecdotes are merely some of the ways you can bring evidence to your presentation. Basically, if you want to be trusted, you have to give your audience members evidence they can understand.

There are idealists and realists. The interesting separation between the two is that idealists are likely to appreciate realistic arguments whereas realists are unlikely to accept the whims of idealism. So, to keep it safe, be logical. That’s not to say you need to throw inspiration aside. But, reasoning is the best tool as your disposal to help your audience understand how you reached the conclusions you’re sharing with them. Basically, if you want to be understood, your ideas need to be attractive.

Finally, emotions are not a thing to fear, even in the business world. The truth is many people make decisions based on a feeling and then justify that decision with a rational argument. Ethical and emotional arguments are a way to incorporate the honest human condition that shapes the art of persuasion. Basically, if you want to be attractive you must understand the emotional element to persuasion.

So, persuasion shouldn’t be reserved for closing a sale. Using credibility, evidence, reasoning and emotions, you can achieve the most solid of sales foundations–you can build a relationship.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Nobody Likes a Salesman

Posted May 26th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Whether or not sales people are kind, likeable, and ready to help you solve your greatest problem with a product or service, consumers hear the word “sales” and they scatter with the hope of avoiding a face-to-face meeting. Why?

Sales professionals, by virtue of their very being and purpose, make individuals feel like prospects. As soon as you discover that the lady you’re talking with is a salesperson you become paranoid. How did she know I worked in IT? Has she tracked me down for a pitch? So, this whole conversation was a farce?

When you’re talking to a sales person all you can think of is the fact that you’re just another conquest. Your real needs and specific troubles will be given lip service but you’re left feeling one of two things. You’re either excited about buying into a “solution” to discover it’s the wrong one or you don’t know how to use it anyway; or, you’re reminded that you are alone and feel like no one or nothing can really help.

Events take the “sales call” feel and turn it on its head–at least good events do. Events are about community, discussion and real people. Day-to-day challenges are brought to light and you discover you’re not really alone. Events bring together similarly struggling people that have been sitting alone in their offices across town struggling over the same problem. You might discover that there’s a solution, that others have conquered this problem, survived and lived to tell.

If you’re staging your event to be a glorified sales pitch with some muffins and coffee for the unlucky attendees, you’re going to suffer the consequences in poor results. Even if you nurture a sale, getting a referral from the client may be unlikely.

Instead, if you have a real conversation with your prospect and offer them a community of like-minded and similarly challenged but resourceful colleagues, you can become a trusted partner and lose the unfortunate salesman persona. Even when you’re looking to buy, no one wants to work with a salesperson. Rather, more people will be responsive to (and more likely to buy from) a helpful and understanding advisor.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Seven Seconds to Bliss or Torture

Posted May 15th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

When you’re hosting an event, all of the planning can be wasted if you don’t invest in your presentation. I’m not talking money here, I’m talking time. Planning a presentation from scratch is an involved process and an important one

I can already tell, this is going to be bad.

You are the Message by Roger Ailes argues that your first seven seconds will determine the audience’s impression of your entire presentation. Good or bad, those first seven seconds are extremely valuable.

Sure, you need to prepare presentation content. But you MUST also consider what impression you want to leave. Once you determine your overall goal, start again by working backwards. Look through your presentation and consider whether your prepared materials will evoke the action or sentiment you are aiming to achieve. Forget the content for a minute and question how you want to deliver it. This should revolutionize your opening remarks and hopefull invigorate your theme throughout.

For example, if you want to inspire people you should likely start with a high-energy, positive attitude statement. If you’re looking to sway a business decision, open with a promising statistic of past achievements with the product/service you’re pitching. If you are aiming to entertain, open with an outrageous statement or joke.

In these few moments you set the tone for yourself and your audience. It’s not just about the content you’re going to cover. If the medium truly is the message you need to be your pitch incarnate. No one will buy a pricey solution from a presenter that lacks confidence. No one will be uplifted by a “Debbie downer” perspective. No one will be convinced by an insincere effort.

So, unless you’re trying to bore and frustrate your audience, chances are you need to shake it up in the first seven seconds. Even if you’re an awesome presenter, you can still improve. For those using the same routine because it worked the first time, you need to re-event the wheel. Start from the beginning and reshape your delivery for maximum results.

Host a Zero-Waste Event

Posted May 12th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

You’re probably thinking I’m out of my mind. But, it is indeed possible to create zero waste at your next event. By following Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. principles, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Let me sketch out a zero-waste event plan to give you an idea.

Select a venue that is easily accessible by transit and has bicycle parking. Hold the event during the day in an outdoor venue. This will eliminate the need for lighting, ventilation and electricity. A good example of this could be a golf event, like a golfinar.

Once you’ve assembled your target audience for the event, deliver a presentation that can be given without digital slides. Offer snacks on reusable plates and serving platters. Choose decor that can be reused or rented.

Enjoy the great outdoors without leaving a mark.

The fact is that there are lots of ways to effectively green your event and make a zero waste impact. In 55 Ways to Lose Your Green Event Envy you will find 55 practical tips that will dramatically change your event footprint. You may think it’s too hard to commit to a zero waste event philosophy. But, the fact is it’s been done before and there are resources out there to guide you.

If you’re looking for more green event resources, check out a zero waste event kit.

And, if you’re very ambitious, don’t just make an effort, set a benchmark that’s worthy of recognition and good publicity. There are awards for exceptional zero waste events.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

The Problem with Green Events

Posted May 6th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

My biggest problem with green events is that, for the most part, going green is all about lip-service. Incorporating a couple of environmentally-friendly elements does not make an event green. Anything less than an all-out effort will simply come up short in the eyes of your attendees.

In the May 2009 issue of Shine, one article in particular tackles 55 Ways to Lose Your Green Event Envy. The idea here is that there are practical methods that will truly make your next sales event an exercise in sustainable business.

Of course, the feel-good benefit of going green is important enough. However, the value of going green is that you communicate what kind of company you are to your target market.

Green events mean you’re not just saying “Save the Planet” but you are actually trying to play a role at the same time. This demonstratesCorporate Social Responsibility and imbeds your company values into customer-facing operations.

Suddenly, you’re not just another agenda-pusher. Your values are implicit and hearing your pitch becomes more desirable.

Event options with implicit green philosophies include webinars, virtual conferencing, etc. And while it is important to follow through on your environmentally-friendly event agenda, you still need your sales event to be a sales success.

You cannot afford to spend money on perfectly sustainable events that do not improve your bottom line. So, consider the tactical options in 55 Ways to Lose Your Green Event Envy. But, also, look for ways to make green event alternatives work for you in Webcast Tips for Boosting Sales and Virtual Conferences Come Alive.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

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