Why is it that the various stakeholders involved in developing and supporting customer facing events don’t share what they know? Why is it that customer insights are neatly segregated according to the precise lines of an organization chart… that looks more like a treaty map then a living document for business success?
All too oftem Marketing misses the chance to learn from the people who jump through hoops to maintain the relationship between customer and company the remaining 362 days a year…
Here are ten things that marketing can learn from sales to improve any event…
1/ Is the event in the right location? Sales knows which customers are reluctant to attend. Rotating locations and adjusting the arrival and departure days are examples of strategies that can be used to overcome this problem.
2/ Is the event scheduled appropriately? Often other events are vying for the same audience in the same time frame (either industry events or competitors events). Sales will also be very sensitive to an event that is too close to the end of the quarter.
3/ Are pre-conference field communications scheduled on a timely basis? Account reps need to start creating awareness well in advance of an event to make sure that a) it gets on the calendar and b) there is time for it to go through the internal budget approval process.
4/ Is the customer communication plan appropriate? Many times an account exec will be the first to know (and the first to complain) if the account is being spammed by too many messages from too many different senders. A disciplined, integrated communications plan is essential – the field is the canary in this coal mine.
5/ Is the audience acquisition campaign effective? While may be too late to do much about the audience acquisition campaign once it launches (for reasons of budget, response time and feedback mechanisms), it is important to assess the effectiveness of individual campaign elements while planning the next conference.
6/ What is the quality of the guest experience? When sales hosts their customers at an event, sales shares the guest experience. And while we tend to discourage focusing on logistics in customer surveys, it is often appropriate to use sales as a sounding board for information about lodging, transportation and f&b.
7/ Is the event content appropriate? As we have discussed in other posts, the primary reasons that people attend a conference is to acquire new skills and to gain an understanding of where the industry and company is going (the proverbial roadmap). Account reps often have a good feel for what their customers want or need to know – which can make them a valuable resource during the content development process.
8/ Are the online tools working? More and more companies are putting their agendas on mobile devices so that attendees (and sometimes account teams) can manage their individual agendas on site. When account execs share the attendee experience there is an opportunity to learn how to refine the tool going forward. (It is a given that a post event attendee survey will make it apparent if the tool is not working.)
9/ Do we have the right companies on the exhibit floor? Sales is a natural resource for sponsorship sales teams who are looking to add depth and/or breadth to heat up the expo floor.
10/ What are the key success metrics? This is not so much a question to ask sales in a survey, as it is the question that needs to be asked and answered by all of the stakeholders in the process of planning every customer event.
Increasingly we are working with our clients to define event metrics and KPIs that are independent of CRM and other pipeline related measurements. Please participate in the Event Measurement Best Practices Survey if you want to compare your practices with your peers around the world.
How are you taking advantage of the field’s knowledge of your attendees? What are the biggest challenges you are facing? What is working?
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