As we all know, the goal of marketing is to interest potential customers and clients into buying your products or services. In today’s digital age, companies are increasingly looking to market themselves more online, and rightly so. Digital marketing offers up a huge number of new opportunities to reach more people and to entice existing customers into returning time and time again.
However, it’s often the case that businesses become so caught up in promoting themselves online that they forget the importance of attending events and the success this can have on their marketing strategy. Talking face-to-face with both your competitors and clients has always been invaluable and events are great for this, whether it’s a local network opportunity, a trade show, seminar, conference or roundtable discussion. Craig Pannazzo, General Manager of Gazeboshop, discusses how they can help:
Making new clients
The first and most important reason why event networking could be the key to your marketing success is because of the opportunity to meet a plethora of potential clients. For many people these events will be the first time they interact with your brand, and you will have a golden opportunity to make a good first impression.
As with any event, it’s always worth familiarising yourself with the people, that will be attending, and the general layout of the venue, if necessary. Most events will promote a list of companies that will be attending in advance, and you can always do a quick search on Twitter using the relevant handle and/or hashtag. Have an idea of who you want to speak to and make sure you make sure you do dedicate some time to developing valuable connections. Make sure to hand out business cards before you leave, and reach out to them after the event.
After you’ve got a few events under your belt, you may even want to create your own! Bring potential clients to you by organising a networking event at your office, or hold one outside (weather permitting). You’ll be sure to impress your contacts, and market yourself excellently in the process.
Meeting your competition
Another fantastic reason to engage more in event networking is to scout out the competition. If you’re at a big enough event, plan some time to take a wander around and check out your competitors’ stands. Some things to consider include:
- How their stands look compared to yours
- How many members of staff they have and how they’re drawing in the crowds
- How busy their stands are
- Their USP – what makes them stand out?
- Whether they’re offering any freebies, or running a competition in order to capture data
- Whether they’re promoting one specific product or service the most
- Whether the product they’re promoting is new to the market
- What other people are saying about them (you can do this just by listening, or checking social media)
Some competitors will be reluctant to speak to you, while others will be open to conversation. Whatever you do you must remain ethical; don’t lie about who you are because this is considered an underhand practice.
Retaining current clients
In addition to acquiring new business, networking events are the perfect place for touching base with your current customers and assessing how happy they are with your products or services. By keeping track of their satisfaction levels, you will be able to sustain long-term happy customers. What’s more, keeping people happy will usually lead to them increasing the amount of business they do with you, as well as becoming long-term advocates of your brand.
As the old adage goes, ‘make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold’.
Building professional contacts for future opportunities
Networking, at its core, is about building long-term relationships. Often these relationships will be between a consumer and a producer. However, event networking also serves to build relationships that are mutually beneficial. Many networkers are looking for contacts that might prove useful in the future, and businesses should look to make use of these potential contacts for their future marketing efforts.
By establishing a relationship based on reciprocity, whereby favours and advice are shared equally between the two parties, businesses can build a network of contacts that will help improve their brand’s legitimacy in the industry. For instance, whilst networking may not bring immediate results, a contact may lead to a future opportunity to speak at a major industry conference.
The opportunities available at networking events are endless, and every business should incorporate them into their marketing strategy. In a world where marketing is increasingly gravitating toward digital mediums, entrepreneurs should not forget the value of face-to-face interaction as a way of promoting themselves. By regularly attending trade fairs, local meetups and industry events, marketers will be able to hone their craft and achieve long-term marketing success.