I had several conversations with consulting company sales people yesterday regarding event planning. By far, most lunch & learn events don’t appeal to business owners and executives. They attract the IT and security people. On the other hand, most of those I meet with tell me, they would like the business leaders there.
Whether you agree or not, I am adamant about getting business leaders to these educational events. This is the group that must understand the liabilities and risks associated with data loss. This is the group that has the power to turn things around. But this is also the hardest group to attract. Here are 5 reasons this group won’t attend your next event…fix these and you’ll be on the road to fixing your events:
- You didn’t invite them.
- They don’t want to sit through a session designed for a technical audience.
- They don’t want to meet with a mixed group – executives and technicians.
- They don’t want to be sold to – a product oriented meeting designed to sell technology gear.
- They don’t know anyone on your attendee list – it must not be that important.
Fixing Your Customer Event
Consider making it invitation only. And be willing to reach out to business leaders in your community by phone. Be ready to explain the value of your event to their administrative assistant.
Make sure your program is designed to educate business leaders, not field engineers. Executives don’t need to know about protocol stacks, virtualization technology, or techniques for securing cloud applications. They do want to understand industry trends, competitive advantage, and liability.
Don’t create an event that appeals to both technologists and business leaders. It won’t work. The business leaders will lose interest when you start talking tech – the technical people will not appreciate the high level approach needed to appeal to executives. Their different roles in the organization demand a different learning track.
Stop selling! If you think your vendor sponsors must be the center of attention, you’ve made a mistake. They want the same thing you want – an opportunity to fix real business problems. Show them a better way to accomplish this and your partners will support your efforts. The business leaders I am talking about have the ability to buy, but they don’t want to be sold. They do want education. The sale will come later where real needs exist.
Focus on creating a networking event. I talk with business leaders of technology companies all the time. They spend their own money to attend all kinds of partner events. Half the value, they tell me, is in the relationships and networking that takes place during the breaks. Can this also be true of your lunch & learn events? It can.
© 2012, David Stelzl
PS. My new book, Event Marketing, 7 Secrets to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns and Sales Events will be out in just one week – stay tuned! – Oct 10th.