Too many companies shy away from these types of marketing events because of the expense involved with doing them correctly. However, since your goal is to stand out from competitors and to be remembered, this is actually good use of your business development dollars.
Some of the best examples I have seen include:
- A software company invited all of their corporate clients to their headquarters in Seattle for a us three-day users conference. While the event was focused on business, they also had some entertaining outside speakers, a boat cruise on Puget Sound, plenty of give-a-ways (I got a great jacket with their logo which I will wear often once the weather in Texas cools down), and allowed their clients to get to know them on a personal/social level. It fostered loyalty with those they do business with, and created cross-selling opportunities between the attendees who otherwise would have just seen each other as competition.
- Two salesman who called on the same industries (they were not competitors) hosted a monthly dinner at Sullivan's Steakhouse for two years. They would invite two attorneys, two venture capitalists, two bankers and two CEO's who were clients or prospects (all different attendees each month). There was no agenda, no sales pitch, just a chance for some key business people in the community to meet, network, and discuss the local economy. This lead to new business for both hosting companies, and became an event that people wanted to get an invitation.
- A major law firm holds a "Women's Conference and Retreat" at a top resort every other year. They host the top female executives from their clients and prospects (as well as other VIP women) for three days. In between the great meals and spa treatments, they had nationally recognized business/motivational speakers and lots of networking opportunities. Only the women in the firm get to attend, but the men don't mind because of the new business they bring in.
- I once took fifteen clients who had five-year-olds to a baseball game. I purchased a block of thirty tickets to the local minor league team (The Round Rock Express) and invited those in my network with kids to be my guests. For most of our kids this was their first professional game, and to this day (four years later), everyone still remembers the event. One client's wife recently commented "I sometimes get invited to business events, but that was the only time anyone ever invited Nicholas!".
Find ways to interact with your clients and prospects that are unique and memorable. If you just keep doing the same thing that everyone else does, you can expect to have the same results everyone else gets (which makes you average). To get noticed you have to do something noticeable.
Have A Great Day.
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