Attending and hosting local events are a crucial component to local marketing success. However, the 2017 State of Local Marketing Report finds that hosting and exhibiting at events are the top two most difficult tactics for small business partners to execute. To capitalize on this hugely important marketing tactic, check out these five ways corporate marketers can support local affiliates at events.
- Create funding or incentive programs to support your local business partners’ event participation
Events are expensive, which is a main deterrent to local business partners’ wanting to participate in them. From staffing the event to expensive booth space costs, it’s easy for the prices of events to quickly skyrocket. The additional costs, like electricity, extra chairs and tables, and supplementary advertising opportunities like sponsorships, make it even more difficult for local business partners to effectively pull off an event. To encourage them to sign up for events, corporate marketers should consider offering immediate co-op reimbursement to expedite the process. Brands that provide immediate co-op reimbursement using a list of pre-approved events can scale their local event programs faster. The right partner can help – all the way down to booking events and prepping materials for local business partners to use at events.
- Find events in your local business partners’ areas that are relevant to their product or service offering
Providing guidance on event selection is critical to generating the best return on investment. This usually takes detailed event research: Will there be other vendors in the same category as you at the event? How far is your small business partner willing to travel? What is the estimated attendance? Identifying the target audience of the event to match with the product and service you are selling is one of the most important parts of event research.
For example, Brandmuscle manages event research for one of our Fortune 500 telecommunications clients. We know their target audience is men between the ages of 30-60, and they do well at events that pertain to or have a need for television, such as Home and Garden Shows, Sporting Goods Shows. We also know that local consumer events generate more exposure, with generally higher event attendance (sometimes 100,000+ people). Business-to-business events, where the attendance is usually smaller in size (typically 200 people), can be useful if you’re looking for more one-on-one interaction with decision makers in the category of the event. Once you identify the target audience, you’ll be able to narrow down a list of events your local business partners should attend to ensure that they are in front of the right people.
- Help provide staffing or brand ambassadors to support your local business partners
For some small business partners, staffing an event while continuing to run their day-to-day business operations can be nearly impossible. Depending on the length and size of the event, there should be staffing for each day of the event and, ideally, enough to rotate. Having more than one person at the event is usually a best practice. Start with looking internally at staff members within your organization who can help staff the event, and then look to outside companies or other corporate team members for additional resources to be “Brand Ambassadors”. A good event staffing rule of thumb to go by:
- A one day event with a 10x10 booth space should have 2 team members
- A multi day event (2-10 days) with a 10x10 booth space should have 3-4 team members
- A multi day event with a larger booth space (for example, 20x20) should have 4-6 team members
Importantly, make sure those who are staffing the event are extremely interactive with event attendees. Having one engaging event staff member could be more productive than having four stale staffers. Use the time at events to serve as the face of the business by being responsive, pleasant and accommodating.
- Create training programs on best practices for selling at events
Being on site at an event can be one of the best ways to sell. However, it also can be a new approach for some of your small business partners. Creating training programs, whether those programs are in-person, on video or even one-sheeters, can give your local business partners the tools, resources and confidence they need to successfully sell at events. Think full circle: before, during and after events. Here’s some best practices for local event marketing that the Brandmuscle team has developed to help get you started:
Before an event:
- Go to event website prior to event for more details.
- Establish a relationship early on with the onsite event contact.
- Prepare your booth space by tailoring it to the specific.
- Test all equipment you plan on bringing to the event.
- Promote the event on your social media channels.
- Brief your team and establish a game plan – what is the goal, what do we want to accomplish?
- If it’s an outdoor event, check the weather and prepare accordingly.
- Get updated brand materials, like business cards, pamphlets and flyers, table drapes, banners and/or tent, ready for the event
During an event:
- Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start time of the event.
- Ensure every staff member dresses appropriately and/or in uniform.
- Make sure your table display is put together, tidy and neat
- Greet and talk to people at the event.
- Be enthusiastic and confident, rotating staff members to keep the energy at the event high.
After an event:
- Tear down according to vendor guidelines and don’t leave a mess at your space.
- Follow up with event contact, thank them and let them know you had a great time and that you are looking forward to next year.
- Create and execute your follow up plan for any leads generated at the event, such as sending thank you notes and emails and/or contacting them by phone in a timely manner.
- Execute post-event surveys to receive feedback
As a corporate marketer, ensuring that local events are effectively run is vital to helping drive local sales. Skipping this step could mean missing out on crucial ideas for next time. The best way to do that is through post-event surveys. Ask your small business partners for their honest feedback. The suggestions and opinions that come them will help to better deliver ways to support local business partners at events in the future and, therefore, propel further success for your brand in local communities. Here are some questions we recommend including in your post-event surveys to your small business partners:
- How many sales agents in total attended the event?
- How many customer leads did you generate from of the event?
- How many sales did you close throughout as a result of the event?
- How effective was your booth space location (inside/outside, inline/corner, etc.)?
- Are there any other marketing materials that would be helpful with promoting your business at your next event?
- Were there any factors that made this event successful or unsuccessful?
- On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, how would you rate your overall experience at this event?
- Would you like to provide any additional feedback/comments on why you provided the above rating?
Local events work, and your small business partners know that. They’re looking to their corporate marketing team to help them properly execute. Capitalize on the one-on-one time local events provide and empower your local business partners with the tools, resources and funds they need to execute the best local events possible.
Interested in learning how Brandmuscle can help you execute events at the local level for your national brand? Contact us today!