Ten top tips for creating a lead generating event

Ten top tips for creating a lead generating event

As regular readers might know, I believe in a multi-channel, surround sound marketing approach. Not every tactic will engage every target market, so I recommend a test-and-learn approach to understand what works and what doesn’t.
 
Events are (in my opinion) a highly underrated marketing tactic for high-value products or services. They can be hard work, they are time-intensive to put together, often have multiple moving parts, and you have no idea how many attendees you’ll get or what the engagement will be like until after you’ve pulled it together. 
 
However, they are a great opportunity to meet and develop relationships with potential clients (or deepen relationships with current clients) in a non-direct sales, informal environment. They allow you to demonstrate your company’s competence (through the event delivery), your company’s reach and status (through the calibre of people speaking) and that your company understands them and their problems (by creating a theme that addresses an issue they care about). 
 
So what are my ten top tips for producing a great, lead generating event?
 
  1. Budget. Figure out what you want to achieve – and what the outcome is worth to you (e.g. for the return that you want, how much are you willing to spend). This is your budget. For example, if you have a $500 cost per lead, and you want to generate 10 leads from the event, your budget should be capped at $5,000.
     
  2. Target. Be very clear on who you want to target (this should come out of your outcomes). Is it CEOs of large Australian financial services businesses, first home buyers in Bendigo, IT cloud storage specialists who work for IT services companies… The clearer you can be about the audience, the easier it will be to create a compelling event.
     
  3. Theme. Start developing your theme. Don’t ever theme an event around selling your product. Work out what matters to your audience, and build your event around that. What do your target audience want to hear about? What are their hopes and dreams? What is keeping them up at night? CEOs are interested in understanding the impacts of new and innovative developments in FinTech; first home buyers feel overwhelmed and out of their depth and need to learn; IT cloud specialists might be worried about the impacts of Google and Microsoft entering the space. They are much more likely to come to an event that promises insight and information about something they already care about.
     
  4. Structure. Decide on the structure of your event. Is it a medium-sized business breakfast event – short, sharp, shiny, and out by 9, or a small, after work seminar with tea and biscuits, or even a glitzy cocktail event at a funky venue? Remember your audience here. CEOs are far more likely to attend a breakfast event that is over before they start their day but if you tried to hold a breakfast event for music professionals, you probably wouldn’t be very successful!
     
  5. Venue. Start exploring venues. Where possible, keep your venue central – no-one wants to travel too far off their beaten track. Think outside the box – we’ve scoped events in venues as diverse as the Telstra innovation centre, the Sydney Observatory tower, a library and a start-up co-working space. Think about how your venue might link to your theme – whether that’s innovation, or learning.
     
  6. Speakers. Engage with leaders in the area. Find the biggest names you can – a bit of star power never goes astray. The more well-known your speaker, the more likely they are to charge for their time – however, there are many senior executives who are willing to speak at events at no charge.
     
  7. Invitations. Are you inviting people for whom you already have contact details (as part of a lead nurturing program) or are you looking for brand new leads? Often you can do both. You may also want to ‘seed’ the audience with current clients who you know are advocates for your product/service. I recommend using a site like Eventbrite which allows you to manage invitations and registrations easily. You can also set up tracking pixels so you can measure what online advertising is working to bring attendees to the site. If you are looking to attract new leads, make sure that you ‘fish where the fish are’ – only pay for advertising in places where you know that your target audience will see them. Aim to get your event under the nose of the target at least 3 times – don’t just send one invitation and assume that because you had no response, that the response was negative. Mix it up with different messaging, imagery and emphases.
     
  8. Catering. Always assume that between 15-30% of your registrants won’t attend a free event on the day, despite follow-ups and reminders and assurance of attendance (this is slightly less for paid events – at 10-15%). Plan your catering on those numbers. Think about how you can use your catering to enhance your theme or build your brand – for example, having cocktails that colour co-ordinate with your brand, or a range of smoothies for an event that emphasises financial health.
     
  9. Rehearsal. No matter how experienced and brilliant the speakers, pin them down to a rehearsal. It makes sense that everyone involved understands what will be said and how they fit into the overall event. Additionally, test, test, test, test, TEST your AV and IT to make sure that WHEN it goes wrong, someone can fix it quickly and efficiently.
     
  10. Work it. Make sure you have as many staff at the event as possible. This is the time to turn all those attendees into powerful relationships. Ensure that you have a sign-up sheet, or get everyone’s business cards, so you know exactly who turned up, and capture any additional attendees who may not have registered.
 
And finally – once the event is over and you’ve patted yourself on the back, and turned towards converting all those beautiful new leads – it turns out you’re not finished yet!
 
Reuse. Leverage as much out of it as possible. Turn discussions into blog posts. Send out the presentations to follow up with attendees (and no-shows). Film it (if you have the resources) and edit the results down into shareable snippets. Develop a whitepaper or PR release if your event had any noteworthy outcomes. 
 
So there you go. My top tips to developing an event that really works to generate leads. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how we can help you develop a memorable and effective event, please contact us!
 
Sybil Williams
CEO & Growth Catalyst