Don’t Simply Capture Leads, Build Relationships | Event Marketing Trends 2015, Part IV

Part of a weeklong series looking at the trends driving event, experiential, and face-to-face marketing. Read Part I, Part II, and Part III.

This entire week we’ve talked about the new trends in event marketing, ranging from how companies are measuring ROI to the use of VR in booths. It is interesting to consider then the crossroads of technology with lead capture since the measurement of overall success will depend squarely on how you gather, integrate, nurture, and close those event leads. Surprisingly this is often an after thought for most marketing professionals, or merely a check box before the event happens.

Rent lead capture device…CHECK.

We all know the technology for lead capture devices need a reboot, not to mention B2B event management software, but rather than harp on the technology itself, lets dive into the way humans need to evolve their use of the technology. Capturing leads is something a machine does, building proper relationships that leads to sales is something we do as humans, and should be a main goal of any event marketer. It becomes paramount then that you train your staff in the fine art of building relationships at events. No matter what technology you use for event management and lead capture be sure to measure that solution by a human-driven criteria of how it will help build sales-qualified relationships at events.

Four Ways to Build Sales-Qualified Relationships at Events 

I)               Minimize Automate Workflow

Marketing and sales have often been connected at the hip, although at the same time often trying to go in opposite directions. The dawn of marketing automation systems (MAS) and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms helped to put these two camps into sync. Today most organizations have a semblance of automated workflow when it comes to inbound leads:

Web Form –> Scoring –> Sales Assignment –> Task Creation

This now all happens between the MAS and the CRM, both marketing and sales is notified, templates are used, and follow up ensues. Every organization is different, but they have worked hard to figure this problem out and automate this once manual workflow. So…why is event marketing so far behind the curve?

Even if you use today’s event management software and rent those legacy lead capture systems the workflow between marketing and sales becomes yet again a manual process. Having run events for many companies it would often baffle me how hard it was for us to not only capture the leads, but then integrate all the business cards collected, notes written on the back of napkins, and wistful memories of a sales guy who talked to some dude named John who really wanted to buy.

In order to really move away from simply lead capture and towards building sales-ready relationships today’s event marketer has to get smarter about automating the entire workflow. This is not simply the ability to quickly port over leads into your MAS or CRM, but empower sales to build relationships outside of the booth, integrate into their workflow, and adapt to their unique personalities and set of skills. Accomplish the three items below and you will accomplish this number one criteria for event management software.

II)              Extend The Reach Off Show Floor

This is a topic I’ve written about before while providing tips on where to physically extend your reach at an event, but for today’s topic it’s important to consider the event management tech you are using. Is it mobile-ready, meaning can you not only incorporate it for management and registration off show floor, but lead capture can reach through every nook of the event. A simple question can help you determine the capabilities here; If my sales guy has the perfect lead lined up at Starbucks two floors away from our rented lead capture device and has zero business cards can he get that info digitally so that it integrates with our full event workflow?

The answer needs to be yes if you want to be able to properly automate event relationship workflow and measure your ROI.

III)            Integrate Into Sales Workflow

Speaking of workflow, your sales team has their own that in some cases they’ve been using for decades. Don’t disrupt it, we do that enough with marketing automation and CRM. Instead learn how they like to deal with event leads, how they want to build relationships, and adapt your event marketing solution into that workflow. A prime example is extending the lead capture device out into the palms of their hand (and yes, Overpass is a good example). But also consider how leads get tagged, tasked, and scored when uploaded into the CRM. Your team will want different levels of information about their leads, and perhaps they have notes they put into the system at the time of capture. How that information goes into the CRM and is then built into the task they get, most likely via mobile, can be the difference between a quick and personalized response and a lead going cold.

IV)           Adapt to User Personalities

Finally, and this is kind of associated with the above, be sure to use technology that adapts not only to all the sales personalities, but also the marketers on your team. The event management solution must be built to not simply be easy-to-use and accessible from anywhere, but it shouldn’t have 15 modules to get the job done. My simple rule here is whenever I hear terms like ‘platform’ or ‘add-on’ I walk away from that technology. It means it’s probably difficult to use, not out-of-the-box comprehensive, and will probably demand a special skillset from a team member. When evaluating systems be sure that during the demo you ask them to show you the product they would deploy if you spent the least amount of money with them…then sit back and watch them scramble.

About the Author: Kyle Flaherty is an award-winning marketing and brand executive, craft beer connoisseur, and devout Boston sports fanatic. He currently runs his own marketing agency and works with the team at Captix (consider yourselves disclosed).