This article also appears on the VAR Guy.
For a lot of IT providers it can be tough to find time for sales and marketing, which may seemingly put things like marketing events off the table. Since it’s crucial that any efforts you put into marketing or sales see return on investment, you need to think carefully about what the right activities are. Luckily, there are a few event types that are pretty simple to host and don’t take an awful lot in the way of time or budget.
Before we get too hasty, remember that as you present during any of the following events, you want to educate clients or potential clients rather than use a straightforward product or solutions pitch. Teach them something they didn’t know about their business risks and how you can address the problems and you’ll be golden– this is particularly true where disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is concerned.
Webinars can be really easy to put together. All you really need is a webinar service to use and PowerPoint presentation discussing whatever topic you’ve chosen, whether it’s a service promo or an educational presentation about cyber-security, or whatever. Webinars are simple, fast, and inexpensive, but remember that they lack that in-person touch.
Services like Go To Meeting allow you to host a webinar easily and even let you create your own signup page. You can email the link out to clients or any leads you’ve got (if you’re targeting new clients), or even call and invite them on the phone. There are a number of other services you can use to host a webinar, take a look at this list to find one that suits you.
Lunch and learn
A lunch and learn is exactly what it sounds like: you give a presentation to people over lunch. These are usually about an hour or so long and (this probably goes without saying) should involve food. I’ve seen people offer everything from pizza to prime rib—it can be a really great draw, but note that like giveaways, you may have people showing up solely for the free food. Lunch and learns can take place in a conference room at your office or if you’d like, in a banquet room at a restaurant. An hour should be ample time to go over whatever information you’d like to go over, but keep in mind you’ve only got a certain amount of time. You need a lean, mean presentation that includes useful information, and possibly a mention of some of your services to have an effective lunch and learn.
Large corporations also sometimes host onsite lunch and learn sessions as part of their professional development initiatives, but to get invited to these it’s important to stick to the 80/20 rule on content versus sales information. Contact the HR departments at the major employers in your area to find out how to get booked as a lunch and learn presenter. Have several one-sheet summaries ready to show share on the various topics you present.
A lot of businesses will have an open-house and invite local area businesses to drop by during a certain window of time. Reasons for hosting an open-house could be to celebrate your business’s anniversary, to bring awareness to your move to a new location, or just to meet local businesses. You can advertise this event through social media, at your local chamber of commerce, or even through direct mail. If it will drive attendance and it’s within your budget, it can’t hurt. As with any event, it’s useful to provide snacks and beverages for people who drop by to meet you. And don’t forget business cards and pamphlets outlining your services ready for those who are interested.
The important thing to think about is you really get out of an event what you put in. There are situations where events aren’t successful and that’s ok. Pay careful attention to what went well and what didn’t so you can refine the process for any event type you choose. With any luck you’ll be able to host events online or off and see more service sales or new clients without a massive amount of effort.
Photo credit: Hakee Chang via Flickr