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About March's Question
Industry conferences and seminars are expensive and time consuming. And there are mixed reviews on whether they deliver a tangible return on investment. This month’s column examines three key issues that fund marketers need to address in advance of making any pay-to-play event decision, to increase that odds that it will yield asset growth.
Gordon G. Andrew
Andrew + Selikoff Partners
- Share intellectual capital associated with the event (either generated by you or someone else), and how to...
- Leverage that intellectual capital to drive engagement with your target audiences either before and / or after the conference.
For example, if you’ve given a conference presentation, you can send highlights of your remarks to your database shortly after the event, and offer to send them your complete remarks or PowerPoint slides. Or you can convert your presentation into a bylined article for publication in an appropriate business or trade journal, and then send target audiences the published piece along with a personalized cover note.
If you’re not on the podium, you’ll need to be more creative. For example, you might send your target audiences a “Sorry I missed you…” communication that provides your insights on the conference’s highlights, or expresses a contrarian viewpoint related to its underlying theme. Or you might even consider hi-jacking the conference agenda, by inviting high-value targets to a roundtable discussion / reception at a very exclusive venue near the event. (Conference sponsors do their best to prevent this type of guerilla marketing.)
In all cases, the strategic goal is to amortize the time and money you’ve invested in the conference, in order to reach a wider and often times more appropriate audience. By using the conference credibility (or its related topic / theme) to showcase your intellectual capital, drive top-of-mind awareness and foster direct engagement, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of yielding a connection between the event and tangible business metrics, including new client engagements and asset growth.
Are my expectations for this conference realistic? Sometimes lightning actually does strike: you’ll make a connection at a conference that eventually leads to new business. But most of the time, putting your company’s logo on a lanyard, participating in a panel discussion, or sponsoring a mid-morning coffee break will lead to absolutely nothing. If there were a consistent direct connection between conference participation and business growth, there would be a very long waiting list for sponsorships.
If you understand that conferences will always be a low percentage marketing strategy, then you have a clear choice. You can either:
- 1. Avoid conferences altogether, by hosting your own private events or programs.
- 2. Leverage your participation to showcase intellectual capital with a wider audience.
- 3. Simply enjoy the camaraderie, the golf / tennis / beach, and the nightlife…and hope for the best.
In short, conference participation is similar to all other marketing-related tactics. Smart, focused and strategic behavior will always produce better outcomes than easy, “one-size-fits-all” solutions.
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