There are few things more frustrating than actually carving out the time to go to a networking event, host a client training workshop, or attend a marketing mixer and still walking away knowing that you just wasted your time and energy.
And yet, it’s a surprisingly common experience. So much so that some small business owners have got the idea that face to face marketing isn’t worth bothering with. The truth is, it’s very easy to get it wrong. But when you know how to get it right, it can be a great way to keep your sales pipeline going strong.
Let’s get some things out of the way straight out of the gate: here are the three types of face to face marketing you shouldn’t even bother with.
1. Networking events you think you “should” go to.
There’s always going to be those events that everyone and their brother seems to go to, and there are always going to be experts telling you that you absolutely must go to so and so expo or thus and thus networking power hour. But the business world has changed so dramatically in the past decade that there are really no end-all-be-all events in the same way there used to be.
So rather than spending a lot of time and energy on networking or expos just because you think you should — instead, focus on those that give you the most return. (More on that in a bit.)
2. Hosting generalised client-centred events.
These things tend to sweep the business world in waves: one year, everyone’s all about the training events; the next, it’s client cocktail hours that are all the rage. While hosting events for your clients to attend can be a great way to build your brand and tacitly market yourself to them, they can also be expensive time wasters. To make them work, they need to have a specific goal and work as part of your overall business strategy.
3. Giant trade shows you’re not willing to spend a lot of money on.
Unless you’re a big business, chances are that you aren’t going to have the budget or interest to get a big stand at one of the giant trade shows. This is going to inherently limit your impact at them. Rather than getting lost in the shuffle, it might be more worth your time to focus on attending smaller, curated shows.
All that being said, face to face marketing can be a solid source of leads and a great way to market your business if you know how to make the most of it.
Here are our top three tips for making face to face marketing really work for you:
1. Get very clear on your objectives before you do anything.
Just like anything else in your business, your face to face marketing should be done strategically, with a clear end in mind. So start out by defining objectives for each facet of your face to face marketing. For instance, if you’re hosting a client event, what’s the primary end goal — sales on the day, or long-term CRM? If you’re planning on attending an event, how many leads to you want to connect with that day? Whatever you plan on doing, make sure that you have clear objectives and you identify metrics to associate with them, because next you’re going to…
2. Keep track of your performance and do a cost-benefit analysis.
After every event, do a debrief in which you check in with your objectives and see how close you were to reaching them. Once you have the numbers in front of you, compare them with the cost of attending or hosting the event, being sure to include the cost of your time and energy.
Do a cost-benefit analysis and see whether this type of marketing is actually worth your time right now. If so, then try to determine why it’s working, and what you can do more or less of. Remember, you’re eventually going to get to a point of diminishing returns on your time, money, and energy, so see if you can figure out what that point is and maximise your marketing’s effects accordingly.
3. Make sure your face to face marketing is playing nicely with your digital marketing.
If your customers are seeing one brand persona online and have a totally different experience when they come to one of your training events, that’s a problem. Similarly, if you’re coming across great at events, but people are greeted with a lacklustre web presence when they follow up, that’s going to put them off. While it would seem like common sense to make sure that your marketing strategies work together, these types of marketing are often assigned to different people (or totally different departments) making misalignments much more common.
Ultimately, it’s not all that complicated to make face to face marketing a strong performer for your business. You do have to go about it objectively and strategically — but once you’ve got that down, you can create some truly powerful sales.