You’ve spent months planning an event and it has finally come to fruition. By all accounts, it was a success and as it draws to a close, it’s tempting to kick back and enjoy a break.
Not so fast. Why did you put the event on in the first place? For most companies, they would like some kind of ongoing return. Events are expensive and time-consuming, it definitely pays if you can leverage them to achieve business goals!
This is where proper event follow-up comes in. It’s not over just because the last person has left, in fact, you should just be getting started if your goal is to generate more leads or sales.
Here are a few tips for following up effectively:
Event follow-up shouldn’t be left as an afterthought. It goes much more smoothly if you’ve planned out a follow-up strategy ahead of the event. You can treat it as you would any other marketing activity – with a calendar of tasks planned out.
Ideally, you need to follow up with attendees within the first few days after the event. This can fall by the wayside if it’s not planned for. Time drags on, then finally when you get around to it, an email goes out. If too much time has passed, that email may get ignored – people have moved onto the next thing in their lives.
Alternatively, if you send an email out in haste because you haven’t planned ahead, you risk making mistakes. You might appear sloppy or insincere, especially if you’ve rushed to write something.
Plan for things like:
- Any goals you have for your follow-up
- An email “template” that you can send out
- How to collect contact information
- How to store and use that information
- How to collect permissions from people if required (especially if you’re going to facilitate connecting people – more on that later)
- Any special thank-yous that you need to organize.
The next few sections offer tips on how you might follow-up with event attendees.
You should always thank attendees for coming, but there are more memorable ways of doing so than just a verbal “thank you.” For example, if you have some budget in your event follow-up, you could physically send out thank you cards, or even some kind of gift, such as a company swag or photos from the event.
Of course, you should always include your contact details and any other pertinent follow-up information (such as invitations to join a networking group). This helps attendees to get in touch with you if they need to, before you send any other follow-ups.
Offer to connect attendees with one another
Offering to connect event attendees with one another after the event is a great way to show attendees you are invested in their personal and professional growth. To do this, you need people to opt in – agreeing to be added to a specific list or group.
For many attendees, this is a very valuable offer. It helps take the pressure off themselves to collect business cards and enter contact details into their own system during the event. It also helps promote the value of the event after it has ended, and keep your business top of mind as a valuable resource.
Send an email recap
Recaps are another value-add strategy that are an essential part of event follow-up. They can be a huge help to people who were unable to take notes, have attended a different session or meeting or who want to forward insights from the event to their team.
You can send out an email (or series of emails) that includes information like:
- A recap of each session, key lessons learned and experiences shared
- Slides that may have gone with the presentation
- Important links or resources that can be used for further reading
- A repeat or reminder of calls to action from each session (for example, “Jen will be presenting further on topic X next month at Y Conference.”)
Provide helpful content
A key mistake that companies make in their event follow-up is to go straight for a hard sell. In this day and age of incessant marketing messages and overly crowded inboxes, people are wary of “being sold to.” Yes, you’ve probably got goals for getting qualified leads or making sales, but it’s important to go about it the right way.
One way to achieve this is to continue providing value and building trust with your audience. Sending out helpful content that is relevant to them, and related in some way to the event they just attended, is a great strategy.
You don’t have to create especially lengthy resources (although these can be great to use on your website), just ensure that you’re delivering something actionable and valuable. It may even be something like “one thing you can do today to (value-add) for your business.”
This helps to further build your authority in the area and encourage people to see your business as the experts. You could include gentle calls to action within the content, as long as they are directly related.
Consider content assets such as:
- Blog posts or articles
- White papers
- Slideshare or Powerpoint presentations
If you wanted to get even more specific (particularly if your event was small), you can figure out the most relevant content to send to each person, based on needs they have described.
Facilitate ongoing discussion
Continue the conversation post-event. This allows people to ask questions they may not have had a chance to ask during the event, pick up things they didn’t notice before, or connect with other attendees.
There are a few ways to do this. You might invite everyone to follow you on Twitter where you facilitate a tweet chat using pre-determined hashtags. You may even host AMAs (“ask me anything”) giving people the opportunity to ask whatever is on their mind.
Another way to facilitate discussion is to set up a social media group or even an online forum. These sorts of “mastermind” groups are popular, especially if they are run so that people get value. Not only can they discuss questions and content, but the groups provide an excellent forum for networking.
This is another way to position your business as a valuable resource and a leading voice in the field.
Create a special offer
If your company has goals for making sales or generating qualified leads from events, then create a post-event special offer. It’s a good way to make clients feel that they’re getting a special deal for attending.
What can you offer that will continue to drive interest and perhaps propel them through the sales process? Some ideas might include:
- An exclusive discount
- A free consultation or demo
- Free installation
- A free trial period
- A free upgrade to the next tier of service
- Free bonuses with purchase.
Your event isn’t over just because the last person left. To make the most of the opportunity, it’s important to plan a cohesive follow-up strategy.
Another key step to include is an internal review of the event and how it went. Did you achieve goals? Has feedback been positive? Importantly, did your event attract the types of people you were hoping it would, and how successful has follow-up been?
The success of your event has a lot to do with targeting the right people, so if you feel you missed them at this event, you may like to note who you need next time and how you’ll entice them to come.