What NOT to Do When Hosting a Field Marketing Event

This post was originally published on Attend by Event Farm’s blog and was written by Melissa Talbot.  

If you’re not hosting field events as part of your marketing strategy, you should. When done right, events are the perfect way to engage your prospects and customers. After spending the early part of my career on the event planning side of the house, I know what it takes to host a great event that can accelerate pipeline and drive revenue—and I also know what to avoid at all costs. I’m going to use an event I recently attended as an example of what NOT to do when hosting field marketing events; keep reading to learn more about the mistakes you should undoubtedly avoid.

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1. Don’t mess up the invitation. I was invited via marketing email to a “breakfast roundtable” from a well-known company in the customer success space. It hit all the right notes—a well-known industry “guru” guest speaker, hosted at a nice restaurant, with a promise of an interactive and casual discussion.

However, after hooking me with all of this information, the director-level “sender” said, “I’ve pasted the details below if you are interested in attending.” If you’re trying to get people excited about your event, don’t let your hook include thoughts of document copy/pasting. It might not seem like a big deal, but it isn’t professional—and if you want invitees to trust your professional opinion during a B2B event, make sure your communications with those prospects are as professional as possible. I powered through and registered anyway, but others might not have.

Pro tip: Your invitations are the first impression your customers and prospects will have of your field marketing event, so make sure it’s a good one. Leverage your marketing team to help you put together an invite that will set the right tone from the start. If you need some help getting started, download our guide, The Art of Email Invitations.

2. Don’t confuse your registrants. The week before the breakfast, I received a calendar invitation for the event from the host company. Instead just sending the reminder, however, it was more of a re-invitation asking me to me to “join others” in my field at this breakfast. If the re-invitation wasn’t confusing enough, it was set for the wrong date. I was confused but decided they must be inviting me to a separate—but similar—event.

A day later, an updated calendar invitation came through with the correct date. Again, your pre-event communications matters and can make or break your attendance numbers. People aren’t going to show up if they aren’t sure about the details of your event, or are disappointed by the lack of professionalism.

Pro tip: Personalize your event reminders, include additional calendar invites just in case, and acknowledge when your customers and prospects have RSVPed. Adding language like “looking forward to seeing you” can go a long way. Also, double check your dates and information before sending anything to potential guests!

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3. Don’t forget to check guests in at the event. Once I arrived at the breakfast, I was greeted with a quick “hello” by one of the host company’s sales reps, but he was immediately consumed in conversation with another prospect that entered at the same time. No one recorded that fact that I showed up. After being ignored by the sales rep, I made conversation with some other guests around the breakfast tables before we eventually sat down.

It wasn’t until that point when a rep from the company passed out sheets of peel and stick name tags with a sharpie. We had already networked and been seated for the roundtable discussion, but then we were writing out our name tags. The flow didn’t make sense, and the host company was not able to record crucial attendee data by having us write out our own name tags. Using a check-in app and/or a badge printer would have gone a long way toward creating a better attendee experience, and it also would have helped the host company track who showed up to their event so they could better engage with them afterward.

Pro tip: Don’t discount the importance of event check-in. You should welcome each attendee at your event, no matter how big or small a potential deal size they represent, and you should always accurately record who shows up to your event. How else will you follow up?

4. Don’t send a meaningless follow-up email a week later. Here’s where my cautionary tale gets interesting. Over a week after the breakfast, I got a follow-up email from the company that hosted the event. The email had a weird subject line that looked to be inviting me to join a group, and in the email a marketer thanked me for joining the breakfast. There was a good call-to-action to join a LinkedIn group with other attendees, but there were a few problems:

  • I had already forgotten about the breakfast. While the email did remind me of the breakfast, I felt a lot less compelled to join a LinkedIn group with other attendees a week after the event than I would have if they sent the email the day of the event.
  • The email was sent to another person and I was just BCC’d. It started with a generic “Hi!” and I’m not sure I was actually the intended recipient.
  • My colleague who did not attend the event got the exact same email. After reading the email, he sent the email to me and we went back and forth about all of the problems with the follow-up. As prospects in the host company’s target market, they did not leave a good impression.

Pro tip: Timely, personalized follow-up is the best post-event touch point for your guests—and it’s also the best way to drive pipeline and revenue after events. Don’t overlook follow-up and simply send a late, generic message. And whatever you do, don’t thank people for coming if they never showed up! “Sorry we missed you” can make it more personal, and it goes a long way when trying to re-engage those prospects.

To learn more about what you should do when hosting a field marketing event, check out our eBook, Take Your Event on the Road: How to Engage Your Target Accounts with Roadshow Events.