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Why event marketing ROI is more like dating than hooking up

guyflirtI am willing to wager my reputation on the fact that Event ROI is about to become a very hot topic as marketing budgets come under greater scrutiny. So here are a few of my thoughts on the subject:

The perfect event marketing ROI presentation shows how profits realized from product or service sales as a direct result of an event-based marketing program exceed the cost of the program. It’s actually a simple formula, but there are some challenges. To explain, here’s a story to show why calculating event ROI is more like dating than hooking up and its all about getting more than one touch to be successful.

In a perfect event marketing world, a consumer attends an event where he or she learns for the first time about a product or service and makes a purchase right on the spot. The profits realized from sales exceed the cost of the event by a comfortable margin and it is clear to you the event was key to making the sale.

If you are thinking, “As if,” well, you’re not alone.

Part 1: Joe works the crowd

Think of your brand as a potential mate. Let’s call him Joe. Now imagine someone walks into a party, meets Joe for the first time, finds him really attractive, chats for a couple of minutes, and then when Joe asks her out, he gets a resounding and immediate, “Yes!” Sure, there may be some people, just as there are some brands, who enjoy this kind of success. But most do not.

Most purchase decisions, like relationships between people, are complex and require time and nurturing. The journey from awareness to purchase is often on a long and winding road.

A more realistic scenario at our party unfolds like this: Joe is a nice guy with lots to offer. He hasn’t had a serious relationship for awhile and is determined to meet someone. He goes to a party with the intention of finding as many interesting women as possible. He moves around the room, striking up conversations with several women. He takes the time to ask each a few questions to determine their likes (demographics), their interests (is she a qualified buyer?), why they’ve never met before (is she aware of your product?), who they know in common (what other complimentary products does she buy?), and who she has dated recently (what’s the competition?)

Joe discovers quickly that most of the women at the party have never heard of him and while most are interested in the same things that he is, they don’t like his jokes.

CONSUMER KNOWLEDGE IS A CRITICAL INGREDIENT FOR ROI. Once Joe connects with the fact that the women don’t like his jokes, he fine-tunes his conversation and behaviour and notices that the remaining women he converses with are more interested in him.
You will never reach the “buy” stage if you don’t interest people at the “hi” stage. The sooner you receive feedback on your approach, the faster you can work on securing the next relationship or re-establishing connections with others.

Part 2: Joe gets the girl’s phone number

PERMISSION IS CRITICAL TO AN ONGOING RELATIONSHIP. Joe is aware he doesn’t have a lot of time to get to know the women in the room. He works hard to interest as many women as possible with his story telling. Then he politely asks if they’d like to hear how the story ends. Most are interested and give him their phone number or e-mail address.

Joe knows that finding his soul mate is not going to happen instantaneously, so he wisely tells each woman at the party only part of his story (a bit of value) and then offers to end the tale at a later date (follow up with more value). He measures his success that night by how many women were interested enough to want to meet him again and to continue the conversation. The measure of his success at the party is based on the number of phone numbers and e-mail addresses he collects. He knows if he calls them all, at least some of them will want to see him again.

How does this translate in the real world? Always include an opt-in option for participants who want to continue the consumer relationship. Count these opt-ins as part of your ROI calculation.

Part 3: Joe gets the girls

DON’T DROP THE BALL ONCE YOU’VE BEEN INVITED TO PLAY. Joe doesn’t rest on his laurels after the party. He knows his chances of success are greater if he acts quickly to follow up. The very next day, he contacts all the women who expressed an interest in hearing from him. He carefully tailors his message to the level of interest of each woman: a softer message for those who were not ready to jump back into dating, a stronger offer for those who were clearly ready for something new. Luckily for Joe, he has an incredible memory. Each message referenced something he had learned about each of the women and included an offer geared to their interests and timing preferences. Joe invited those who were the most interested to dinner.

How does this translate in the real world? Continue the relationship beyond your event. Send an e-mail or text message to thank participants for coming. Customize the message according to what they’ve told you in the survey. Offer the most qualified a special incentive. Measure how many of them stay connected to you – another part of an ROI calculation.

CROSS THE FINISH LINE. Joe is thick in the middle of the dating scene now. His relationships with the many women in his life are at various stages of seriousness. He still hasn’t “sold” anything. For Joe, that will happen when he finds his soul mate.

This is where our ROI analogy starts to fall apart, as polygamy is frowned upon!
How does this translate in the real world? In the case of event marketing, your final ROI comes when you can track people from the time they attend your event to the time of purchase and, even better, when they repeat purchase. Your ROI is then:
“The total profit associated with the products purchased by the attendees of your event minus the cost of the event, divided by the profit.”

The bottom line is to imagine yourself as a “Joe,” to connect with as many people as possible, and to ask them permission to continue a relationship. Carefully nurture that relationship, by offering meaningful, timely followup communications, and follow through to sales numbers for each of the visitors at the event.

Written by Lynda Partner

April 17th, 2009 at 10:50 am

With one comment

One Response to 'Why event marketing ROI is more like dating than hooking up'

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  1. Boy, you know your stuff!

    R Banks

    23 May 09 at 2:16 pm

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