August 01, 2001
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August 2001 Current Issue
August 2001 Back to BasicsPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Back to Basics

By John Chang


Multitiered promotions are smart, effective and enhance the planner’s value to an organization

In the middle of an economic downturn, it’s more important than ever for meeting professionals to demonstrate the value of their meetings, both internally and externally. Smart planners position meetings as valuable opportunities for potential attendees to build relationships with customers and employees. At the same time, they closely link their meeting results to the objectives of their organizations.

Even now, customer events such as sales seminars, product rollouts, training and user conferences should be positioned as an important part of any company’s sales and marketing plan. To manage these events successfully, tap into the latest in event-marketing tools to attract previous and new attendees.

Here are some techniques you can employ to build attendance.

List development. After identifying top prospects, review the organization’s current contact list and brainstorm ways to build it.

To attract new sales leads, include names of people who have requested product literature or visited the company’s booth at trade shows. Determine if you should purchase outside lists of contacts who have bought products similar to your company’s. And begin marketing the event right away: Give Web site visitors the chance to sign up to receive event-related news, and promote your event in all direct mail literature by publishing the related URL.

Communication methods. Identify the various methods available to reach the ideal audience. If the budget permits, consider the entire multimedia spectrum e-mail, mail, phone and fax. This approach has been proven to generate the highest response rates. E-mail costs the least, but consider testing your offer via multiple methods to find out which one is most effective. For example, an announcement via e-mail, followed by faxed invitations, might generate the best results.

Online information. The Web is an ideal forum for providing the current event information it’s always available and you can add an unlimited amount of content.

Market tryouts. Test your marketing campaigns and track response rates to each trial separately to identify the most effective messages. For example, create three invitation e-mails and send them to a subset of your list. Send the one that garners the highest response rate to the entire list.

On target. Make sure you target your audience with special offers or messages. If you have tracked the preferences and demographics of your customers or members, you can use this data to optimize marketing messages. For example, at the next conference, send an e-mail that highlights your marketing programming to contacts who have a marketing title. Or, when planning your association’s next chapter meeting, target new members with messages about the educational and career benefits, and send established members a message touting the networking aspects of your association.

Registration forms. The registration form gives you the opportunity to collect demographics, personal profiles, buying-habit data and attendee preferences. Use this information to fine-tune your program, and consider offering new topics based on your attendees’ knowledge levels or subject interests.

Viral marketing. An Internet buzz term, viral marketing means spreading a message from person to person as information is forwarded to multiple e-mail boxes. Allowing customers to forward their invitation to colleagues can be an inexpensive and effective way to build your attendee list. To encourage referrals, offer a special discount, like, “Invite a colleague and save 25 percent off the registration fee.”

John Chang is CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based seeUthere (, an online registration and e-marketing service.

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