You Ask, I Answer: Driving Leads Without Conferences?

Stephanie asks, “The pandemic has led to the cancellation of many conferences. If in-person events are a cornerstone touchpoint for a brand, how should marketers pivot? What can they do now to drive pipeline activity?”

It depends on how you got your pipeline from shows. Was it as a sponsor and you got the list? Was it from the stage? Was it private parties and dinners? Once you understand the mechanism, you can find analogues for today’s world.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode, Stephanie asks the pandemic has led to the cancellation of many conferences in person events are a cornerstone touch point for a brand.

How should marketers pivot? What can they do now to drive pipeline activity? So it’s a good question.

The answer depends on how you got pipeline from shows.

So for example, if you are a silver or gold or platinum, whatever sponsor of a conference, you may get a portion or all of the attendee registration list, right.

So your pipeline essentially came from the conference gathering up names, emails for you, and handing them over in exchange for a big pile of money.

If you got leads from the stage, you had one or more speakers, you’ve paid to have them be up on stage, or they were just good enough speakers that they merited on their own Then that’s a different mechanism where there’s some call to action from a, an educational benefit to your users to your audience.

If it was private parties and dinners, you know, the ability to take 10 prospects out to an expensive steak dinner somewhere as a different level of engagement.

Once you understand the mechanism by which a conference fed you pipeline, you can find analogues for the world as it is now at inside the pandemic.

So, let’s think about this.

If your thing was the steak dinner, right? What are some things that you can do to replicate a part of that experience? The whole point of a steak dinner kind of environment is it gives you and a handful of prospects the ability to have a discussion for a long time, they may or may not be a guest speaker of some kind.

Give me Maybe like a panel discussion or something, but it’s it’s a more intimate event, right? It’s usually not going to be more than like 20 people in a room and even at one table, it’s gonna be, you know, eight to 10 people at a table.

What happens if you start doing things like zoom calls but with some kind of tangible added benefit, I’ve seen a number of brands do this very successfully, where they will send out like, bottles of wine to a select group of people and say, Look, you know, be online at this time.

And we’ll have a wine tasting together or another sampler probably will actually cost you less than the steak dinner because steak dinners you know, so run easily 100 bucks a person get to have you bottles of wine and then get them all shipped out and you can meet the same essentially cost.

And you can replicate a lot of the discussion part of the experience you know, you have your subject matter expert, maybe a guest speaker of some kind and through the the hazing you To kind of hang out for the hour or whatever, if you’re getting leads from the stage itself, again, that one’s a fairly obvious one to replicate, you do webinars and instead of, you know, just large scale webinars, maybe you have a very focused webinar, maybe you do some innovative advertising to drive attention to it.

But the webinar one is pretty straightforward.

There’s a almost a one to one replacement from speaking with a stage in a webinar.

If you are having trouble attracting people to your webinars, because your brand is not well known.

And or you have not had the greatest track record of webinars, you again may want to bring in a guest speaker, a panelist, somebody that can bring some of their own audience and eyeballs with them to the event.

expect to pay for that expect and depending on the size of the audience expect to pay more for that, the larger the audience gets, but It’s a way to access the same crowd that you would access if it was at an event.

Because when you’re at an event, particularly for the larger speakers, or speakers who are known for your topic, people are in that room to, to see that person talk and hear what they have to say.

So when you see somebody like Ann Handley on stage, you are there to listen to and talk about writing.

If you see somebody like crystal Washington on stage, we’re there to learn about tech futurism.

And so if you engage those speakers in your webinar, there’s a good chance they will bring some of their audience with them.

And that’s what you want.

You want net new audience.

You don’t want to be just the audience you currently have.

Although there’s there’s nothing wrong with nurturing them.

If you’re trying to build a new pipeline.

You need to bring in some audience when it comes to just big lists.

That is is a little bit tougher, but not not insurmountable.

Essentially, at that point, you’d start looking at co registration.

So co registration on white papers, on ebooks, on on webinars or other events, newsletters, whatever the case may be sponsoring a newsletter would be a great way to do that, because again, you’re going to be trying to get a large number of registrations that you can then put into your marketing automation system.

So if you as an example, I did a paper with Talkwalker, my company Trust Insights and Talkwalker collaborated, we worked out a a, an arrangement and we had a custom built piece of research that we did and published and generated about 1200 leads for for them.

And so that was a for your reasonable investment, a good way to draw a lot of new pipeline for them to work with now, is it all qualified? No, but neither is you know, everybody who attends a conference.

Whatever the mechanism is that the conference delivers for you, you can find digital versions of that now, it’s just you have to get away from the idea of thinking that it’s going to function exactly like a conference, you have to look at the techniques that are available, let’s say which techniques map to the the, the benefit we used to get from the event? Are there other things that you are missing? Yes, there’s always that absence of serendipity.

Right? No matter how good a virtual event is, it just cannot seem to replicate that, you know, randomly bumping into somebody in the hallway or hanging out at somebody’s booth and meeting a new friend.

That’s very difficult to do digitally.

I’ve not seen anything that comes close to that other than curated communities.

So for example, if they’re joining us slack instance, about a specific topic, you can meet new people there in a in a conversation.

But running out and building community like that is not something you can just stand up for an event and then let go.

I mean, you can do it, but it’s kind of tacky.

You have to invest the time in that community to make it work.

We’ve been running the analytics for marketers community, if you go to Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers.

I’ve been running that for well over a year, and only recently passed about 1000 new people in there.

It’s one of those things that it takes time to build and grow and nurture community and you have to put a lot more into it upfront, then you’re going to get out of it a lot more.

But that can replicate that serendipity experience if you’re trying to attract people who might not otherwise want your newsletter or attend your webinar, or hang out on a zoom call with you.

And they can get to know you in a way that is not less threatening, but I guess less they perceive they will perceive as less than Likely for you to try and sell them something immediately.

And they know they can, you know, punch out if if things are there’s no benefit for them.

So think about the the benefits you got, map them to digital analog, that’s a terrible catchphrase, match them to their digital equivalents now, and you can replicate most of the benefits of a conference.

But remember that unlike a real conference, you’re breaking them into different pieces, so you’ll get less of a synergistic effect than you would in a real world event.

But you can still do it, you can still meet your deadlines, you can still meet your goals for events for the year.

Just think differently about what those tactics look like to achieve the same strategic goal.

If you have follow up questions, leave in the comments box below.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter, I’ll talk to you soon.

Take care.

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