EXHIBITION NEWS May 2017 - Page 18

ADVERTISEMENT Top referrals Why referral marketing is the way to go support@feathr.co feathr.co By Aidan Augustin, co-founder and president at Feathr, The Event Marketing Cloud The Challenge As exhibition organizers, fi nding new qualifi ed attendees is a key challenge every year. In certain niche verticals, these buyers can seem as mythical as the phoenix, defying all attempts at SEO/SEM keyword targeting, standard demographic profi ling, and email list purchasing efforts. Despite this, in all likelihood these people are just one or two steps of separation away from you through your exhibition’s existing network of attendees, exhibitors, speakers, and media partners. This is the cornerstone of referral marketing. Referral Marketing – What and Why Referral marketing is, in so many words, word-of-mouth with encouragement. It empowers your customers and partners to do your marketing for you, in a way that is authentic. Given that 91% of B2B buyers are infl uenced by word-of-mouth when making buying decisions (Incite Group), it makes sense that you would want as much of this as possible. According to an Advisor Impact Study, 83% of satisfi ed customers are willing to refer your company to their peers, but only 29% actually do. That’s a massive diff of 54%, representing a huge opportunity. All they need is a polite little nudge. Different Types Referral Partners The most common referral or invitation program is with your exhibitors. These companies are paying good money to be at your event because your attendees are potential their customers. But this works in both directions; their existing customers are your potential attendees! Exhibitors and sponsors have email lists, website traffi c, and social followings chock full of qualifi ed buyers in your industry. If your event also has speakers or panelists, consider leveraging them as well. These people are thought leaders in the industry, meaning they probably have a strong network on LinkedIn, a following on Twitter, a blog, etc. What’s more, they (and/or their companies) are actively building their personal brand as thought leaders, so will be more than willing to trumpet the fact that they are speaking at your event. Feathr gives its tips on making referral marketing work for you Finally, industry partners such as trade magazines or associations have a highly targeted readership and membership at their fi ngertips. Go beyond the standard “booth for advertising space” swap and truly empower (and incentivize) these partners to promote their involvement and support of your event. Appropriate Motivation Many reading this will throw up their hands and say “we’ve tried an invitation program for years, and we can’t get our exhibitors to participate!” Getting referral partners motivated and engaged is a valid challenge for many organizers, but the reality is that you are probably doing a poor job communicating the value of this activity. A few best practices: 1) Make it co-branded. They might be willing to promote you, but they are defi nitely willing to promote themselves. Give them material that highlights their involvement with your event, and spin it so that you are doing them a favor allowing them to bask in your brand’s spotlight. This psychological fl ip can make all the difference, because now it is a missed opportunity for them to get exposure and boost their ROI for your event if they don’t participate. 2) Make it accessible. Nobody logs into your clunky exhibitor portal, and they certainly are not digging three layers deep to extricate some email template that they now need to port over to their email marketing tool. Whether you use promo codes, banners, or Feathr’s co-branded landing pages, give them exactly what they need, and continue to keep it top-of-mind (and top-of-inbox). 3) Give clear suggestions. Remove as much thinking as possible for the referral partner by giving specifi c actionable ideas such as “Share this from your LinkedIn page” or “Place this on your company blog”, and provide pre-written copy they can immediately utilize. Be concise and don’t overwhelm them with choice either; two or three easy options is probably the limit. 4) Emphasize the implicit benefi ts. They benefi t from more attendees at the event. Hey benefi t from more people knowing they will be present at the event. They benefi t from top-of-mind pre-event exposure to attendees. They benefi t from association with your brand. All before d