Event Marketing: The Missing Channel in Business Development

By Tara Adams, CWCC Member

As a small business owner, you’re probably aware of the many marketing channels available to build your company brand and gain awareness.  From ads in the local newspaper to radio endorsements, media outreach to online marketing, most business owners know how to cover the bases.  But, there is one marketing channel that is often overlooked and can hold a world of opportunity – event marketing.

The first thing that comes to mind for many when they hear the term “event marketing” is a pushy vendor handing out samples of products to prospective customers.  While this is definitely one way to approach it, there are many other tactics to market to your customers through events at a much higher level.

Trade show booths and sponsorships are a great way to engage prospects and build brand awareness.  When you participate in a trade show or event that is well suited to your industry, you are automatically placing yourself in the midst of hundreds of qualified leads.  Here, you can engage prospects and send them off with branded collateral to make sure your company stays top of mind.

It is often said that it is easier and less expensive to keep a customer than it is to obtain a new one.  Therefore, dollars spent keeping current customers happy and loyal are always dollars well spent.  One way to do that is to have a company-sponsored customer appreciation event.  Holding a small happy hour mixer with drinks and food is a great way to get your customers to interact with both you and other customers with positive experiences.  Not only does it add a personal touch to your brand, it also shows that you genuinely do care about your customers.  In addition, you can offer an incentive and ask customers to bring a friend that they’d like to refer to your company; suddenly, you’re not only keeping customers happy and loyal, you’re building leads to increase your business!  Building a network with an increasing amount of satisfied customers can lead to more and more referrals.

Event marketing doesn’t only happen in “real” life.  With social media emerging as a new marketing channel, it’s important to engage your customers even when you’re not physically in the same place.  The “Twitter Party” is a rising form of virtual event marketing.  A gathering of your Twitter followers is scheduled for a certain day and time with a particular topic of discussion in mind.  When the party starts, your company account initiates a discussion point, and your followers begin engaging in discussion with you and others using an assigned hash tag so that conversation can be tracked.  This costs nothing and uses almost no resources, but can help engage your customers.

So, next time you’re looking for a new way to build your business, consider event marketing.  You may discover it’s a wealth of opportunity!

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