It might seem like an inordinate amount of your time goes to pulling off a signature event every year. It’s The Big One. There are intimate customer dinners, workshops for prospects and keynotes where all are welcome. Attendees enjoy top-notch entertainment and refuel with catering you carefully selected. These events are exciting and important. But they are only one part of your job as an event prof.
Just as important are the intimate conversion events you plan throughout the year. There might only be 15 attendees, but the goal is clear: increase inbound leads and, ultimately, flip prospects into paying customers. Here are three strategies to make those small-group conversion events a success:
Get the Right People in the Room
These events are an opportunity for attendees to learn and to ask questions about your company and products.
“The goal is to create a memorable experience that’s high-level enough that everybody, no matter which industry they’re in, can relate to,” says Erica Omran, who heads up events at DoubleDutch. “The quality—of attendees and the conversation—is crucial.” Omran recommends inviting a small group of senior leaders, preferably directors or above, who have the power to make purchasing decisions.
Whatever you do, don’t hit attendees over the head with a sales pitch.
One clever workaround: Add a few customers to the mix whom prospects can pepper with questions. Omran aims for a 15/85 percent mix—15 percent customers, 85 percent prospects. “The people in the room who already know DoubleDutch and have had great experiences become ambassadors for us,” she says. “They sell their experiences.”
Match the Venue to the Audience
Don’t waste attendee’ time with irrelevant content or unnecessarily long meetings. Omran prefers breakfast or lunch meetings that last a couple of hours max.
Breakfast events are casual and don’t require busy prospects to give up a big chunk of their day. Lunchtime events also work, though Omran says those are best at higher-end restaurants. Happy hour events work well for peer-to-peer networking, but Omran says she notices those events result in fewer qualified leads. And for the most VIP prospects, consider making a splash at a fancy restaurant.
“Our dinner events tend to be for CMO-level attendees. Given the higher-level attendees, we aim for Michelin-starred restaurants. We want to make an impression,” she says.
Match the style and venue to the desired attendee—but don’t forget that the content is the most important part of the recipe.
Don’t Let the Fun End and Keep the Conversation Going
Great content isn’t the only key that small- and large-group events have in common. Another similarity: The work isn’t done after the last attendee leaves. Omran says DoubleDutch creates event apps for even the smallest gatherings.
“One thing that makes our conversion events unique is that we’re able to keep the community going after the event. If someone has a question, they can pose it to other attendees within the app.”
Even if you can’t create an app for every conversion event, find ways to keep the conversation going—have the main speaker share a recap post with the community or send personalized follow up emails to each attendee. The goal of conversion events, like any event, is to create and develop a community. It’d be a shame to let it fizzle out once the final pastry or steak is consumed.