This is a guest blog by Jim Alkon of Meetings and Media, a media/business development consultancy. Jim is also an adviser to the Convention Industry Council, and the VP of Programs for MPI Greater New York Chapter.
For all the event industry salespeople who have either heard the discussions about enhancing the attendee experience or are living on another planet, here’s a selling idea to truly enhance the attendee experience: don’t sell them.
Ok, then what? Educate them? Inform them? About something other than your product? That’s a good start – and it might be the best way to “sell” these days to an audience that does not want to be sold to. Deliver to your audience what they want and need – and in a manner in which they want to receive it. Whether the sales world likes it or not, most of your buyers want content if they are not in buying mode on a particular day. Give them what they want – it might be your best chance to get what you want.
We’ve all been to enough meetings where supplier sponsors take the podium compelled to deliver their pitch no matter how restless the audience grows. It’s called buying the right to push your message. Not what your attendees paid for. You lose them in two seconds with the wrong message. Especially in today’s universe, which preaches a pull – not push – mentality.
That brings us to thought leadership as a marketing strategy. It’s a great idea, yet remember everyone can’t be thought leaders – that would be impossible. But in striving to attain thought leadership with content marketing at the core, you likely are achieving your ultimate goal – providing a valuable service to your prospects, building trust, and generating leads. Eventually, if done properly, it will help move product and drive more people to your events.
I came from a world of concealed content marketing and didn’t realize it at the time. I was the Publisher for several meetings and events industry publications, and the information we delivered, if it was good, prompted advertisers to buy ads in our environment and latch onto our flock of readers. If the articles were hard-hitting and not promotional softballs, the readers respected us more and the advertisers bought more.
“Always Be Helping.” That was a nice phrase I heard Dave Lutz of Velvet Chainsaw use during a speech some time back, effectively replacing the Glengarry Glen Ross theme of “Always Be Closing.” It’s a good expression to remember as you create events, programs and marketing campaigns to attract attendees and keep them interested and engaged in your brand. Give it a try and good things likely will happen.