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Live Marketing Events Work

But Only If You Treat Them Like Direct Response Marketing

Every week I talk with sales people who are involved in setting up lunch & learns. In some cases they have an audience building, in other cases, they’re struggling to get people to attend.  But in just about all cases, no thought has been given to the conversion plan.

A Word On Sponsoring Vendors and Why They Should Never Be Your Speaker

Your sponsors – Vendors who supply MDF, are looking for an ROI – Return on Investment. It’s interesting to me that their demands are more often than not, to get a speaking slot. I guess they think that by speaking they have more control over the message. But the truth is, their message is not designed to convert anyone to a sale.

They’re top direct sales people likely have great selling skills, but those attending your event most likely don’t. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great channel managers or SEs, and it doesn’t ding their technical knowledge.  It simply means they don’t really know how to close a CIO or small business owner.  Why should they. It’s not in their job description.  (Of course some vendor partners do staff one or two keynote speakers – but getting one of them assigned to your account is not easy.)

Do You Have A Solid Conversion Plan?

Direct Response means, there’s a conversion plan, and you plan to measure it. I was recently talking to a channel manager about events. He made the statement, ” We pay for this – it doesn’t cost the reseller anything!” Wow, very short sighted. It’s expensive to run an event. Even if the reseller has no cash expenses. The time spent on the phone, writing invitations, and even attending they event, is costly to the hosting company. Everyone has skin in the game. So what’s the conversion plan? If it’s good, the ROI is strong and the cost is meaningless. It’s an investment with a strong return, like buying land in a growing city.

In just about every case, when I ask what the event is suppose to drive, the answer is – conversations or call backs. “We hope they’ll call us when they have a need.”

Don’t count on it. Out of sight, out of mind. The fact is, they have a need right now – it’s security. There may be other needs across the group, but this one is predictable in every account. The question is, can you move them in your one hour meeting?

Selling From The Platform Has Already Been Tested

Selling from the platform is what speakers do. If you are doing a live event, you have a speaker. If they understand the speaking industry, they know that all speakers, at least the successful ones, have learned to sell from the front of the room. We call this, “Selling from the platform.”

It’s a proven fact that if you let your audience go home without closing, they won’t be back. Maybe 2%, but not enough to call the event a success. A speaker who closes less than 25% of his audience on something, goes home feeling like he failed to close.  Does your event speaker feel the same?

Here are some statistics from my own experience.  If I make an offer and follow up by phone, it’s going to be a 2% conversion. If I have them line up in the back or go online to order, it might be 20%. If I get them to sign up by asking them while they’re listening, my close goes up to 75 and sometimes 90 or 100%.

Don’t waste your time on events with no conversion plan. Instead, start with your conversion. Convert to what? Convert to something – my favorite is the assessment.  It’s a next step that offers value and builds justification for future involvement.

Next ask, “What will cause my group to convert?” The speaker’s job is to make this conversion, but everything surrounding the speaker also encourages the conversion.  So do you need 3 speakers to convert? No. You need one – the best one.  Should your event go all day, or is one hour long enough. Test it. Find the sweet spot – where conversion numbers seem highest. Then, repeat the process over and over until you have a predictable sales model in place.

© 2016, David Stelzl

More on this process in my book, The House & The Cloud…and you can pick up Digital Money, a book built to convert your clients!

 

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DemandGenLogoRed“We recently held an educational event with David Stelzl as our keynote speaker to explain the 7 Essential Mindsets of securing critical data.  The event was held at the right time, with the right people, and at the right place and was a great success!  We had 74 people in attendance which represented 31 actual companies.  Of those, 65% signed up for a Risk Assessment that night and an additional 5 companies wanted project work done.  Since then, we’ve had two of 31 companies actually call us for help with security issues.  Both have engaged for project work.  They definitely would not have called without us doing the event.”

This quote (above), written by Nate Freeman of Network People in Largo, FL, appears on the comments page of my blog – events work, but only when done with conversion in mind.

This morning I had the privilege of meeting with various resellers from the US to talk about demand generation and exactly what it is that differentiates success from an expensive lunch meeting.  I covered the seven steps presented in my most recent book, Event Marketing, 7 Steps to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns.  One of those steps, and the one asked about this morning, involves using the right speakers – without the right speaker, you’ll just end up with an expensive lunch.

On a recent call with a reseller on the west coast, we were discussing the agenda with a proposed vendor partner/sponsor – a partner willing to support the event with JMF.  On the call he said, “If we are going to fund this, we want a speaking slot.”  The reseller on the call deferred to me, asking me what I thought I of this.  What happened next is the important part…

I simply said, “It doesn’t really matter to me who speaks – in fact, I don’t even have to speak at this event.  The only thing that matters is conversion.  Will more people move from the Attendee box to the Doing-something-about-it box if you speak or I speak?  At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in this event is conversion between these two boxes.”  It would be rare for someone to actually buy a product or service right there at the event, however , converting them to some sort of assessment or strategy session is not that hard given the right message and the right people group.  In fact, the length of the meeting, the location, the food…every decision we make should be based on maximizing conversion. Nothing else matters.

When the vendor heard these words it finally made sense – he had never thought of it quite like this.  From there we stopped worrying about who was doing what from an ego standpoint and started talking strategy – what will bring in the right audience and what will yield the highest conversion rate?

You can find more great tips in my ebook – or wait for the recording link on this webinar to be announced.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

I returned from DC last night, having spent the day with a solution provider in the software space.  One thing  that stands out and is worth repeating here is the discovery of a profit multiplier.  According to Jim Collins, every company should have an economic engine, and most resellers can put more on the bottom line if they figure out what the multiplier are and where profits are leaking out.  The comment that triggered our direction should be understood by all resellers, “Thinking your sales  team will double sales this year simply by working harder is tempting by unrealistic.”  I would add, that setting strong financial goals and then hoping to acheive them without a significant change to the way you do business is foolish thinking.

Once identified, we were able to come up with twenty ways to stop the leak.  Not all 20 will prove to be do-able or realistic short term fixes, but 4 or 5 of them stood out clearly as ways to multiply bottom line profits over the next several months.

Isn’t it worth taking some time out of the field to study the business model, identify the levers that multiply the business, and formulate a strategy to get them in motion?  This is what it means to work on the business rather than always working in the business.

© 2011, David Stelzl