09 Mar Virtual World Marketing vs Real World Marketing
I’ve tried using Google Adwords and Facebook advertising of late and am really surprised with the results. I’ve had quite a few clicks and while initially this was exciting, it soon becomes depressing when you realise you have no idea whether the “click” was an interested customer or one of your friends checking out your website. I realise that your website is your shop front and its design is critical to turning a passive enquiry into a compulsion to act, I recently read that research is showing that social network advertising programs are not proven to convert clicks into sales. Companies are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into creating teams to manage their Twitter, Facebook and other social media, but are not seeing an increase in sales to qualify the additional expense of the team.
I’m in the personal services business and I therefore do not expect my online ads or blogs to generate revenue. I do however, believe in the theory of the free economy which has been created by the online world and combining old fashioned face to face conversations with lessons learned from the virtual world, creates a wonderful opportunity for you to help your clients and at the same time, maybe secure some more.
The cost of traditional advertising mediums is out of reach of many small business, online advertising is unlikely to convert to sales for not only big business, but in particular businesses that need to “explain” the services they deliver. Hosting an event that brings together 50 to 60 of your current and potential clients is more affordable than most people think, it provides a greater opportunity to really engage with your customers and find out what they need.
But it’s not enough anymore just to gather a group of people together and give them a product demonstration. Apart from being an incredibly boring event, the money you spend on takeaway collateral will hit the first bin they find on the footpath outside. It’s imperative to create an event that ADDS VALUE to your customer. Give them a compelling reason to come, free tools, an opportunity to meet someone they’ve been dying to meet, discussion on some research you’ve been conducting in their industry.
First and foremost, if you have a compelling reason to attend your event your attendance rate will be greater and your customers will be grateful, not resentful. Provide an opportunity to mix with other people, make sure you know everyone there and do your research so you know who might be interested in talking to whom. Give, give, give and when the time is right, you will have the opportunity to present your product in a relaxed, informal and engaging environment.
However! the most critical success component to an event of this type is to ensure you have marketed like a musician! Following are elements that will ensure you have an opportunity to engage with this audience again:
- make sure you have a well constructed feedback form and ASK people to complete it before they leave. Make sure it has a space to put their contact details down so you can keep in touch.
- If you’re going to do a business card draw, make sure the prize is good, publicize that you will be collecting business cards and if you’re taking photos, make sure you put up a sign to advise such. If your prize is crap, you’ll ruin all the goodwill of the free information by the potential client walking away feeling disappointed.
- Whatever information you are giving away, make printed copies to hand out to your guests as they leave. But make sure your contact details are on every page so people can find you again when the time is right.
- And on the note of giveaways, people love a gift bag, but only a gift bag full of REAL GIFTS. If you can’t afford to fill it yourself, get some sponsors on board and let them promote to your client base as well. But remember, a 1/2 filled gift bag with a few real gifts is much greater value than a bag bursting with paper which has absolutely no value to your audience.
- Make sure you have professionally produced marketing material scattered around the venue. People will want to take information away so they can review it the next day, share their insights with friends or colleagues. I’ve been to so many events of this type where the event was amazing but then nothing was handed out to help me remember the key points. Subsequently I never did business with them and now can’t even remember who they are.
- And last but not least – follow up, follow up, FOLLOW UP !!!! Keep in touch with your audience, get to know them and when the time is right, you will have a product that will help them achieve their goal.
You must remember that this is about information sharing, getting to know your client base and providing an opportunity for potential customers to get to know you. If you start at the beginning by creating a set of objectives for the event, drawing up a strategy to achieve those objectives and evaluating the outcomes, you will have a much greater chance of engaging with your customers in the REAL WORLD, and leave the virtual world simply building awareness.