#6 How to encourage referrals

August 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

Build assets that prompt registrants to refer their colleagues

If your objectives are quantity or quality of attendees, then referrals are a good way to achieve them. And the wonderful thing about digital in general, and social in particular, is that is very social. Even in a B2B setting.

Some creative thinking can generate some new offers and incentives to encourage registrants to bring their colleagues, partners and contacts along to your event. It can be as simple and materialistic as a cup of coffee or bottle of wine (rules and regulations and budgets permitting), or as sophisticated and product-focused as private, tailored demos, or an offer of consulting time.

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b2b, events, digital, referrals, social

Not everyone enters your story through the same door.

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For events that are promoting larger solutions that require multiple decision-makers, think about constructing your incentives so that a registrant is compelled to bring along the other members of the ‘buying cell’ in their company, including perhaps representatives from Finance, Operations and Talent, as well as Technology. It’s far easier to get the buy-in of a group when they are present as an actual group. 

A word of caution: You’ll need to ensure the actual content of your event is also tailored to these particular POVs and that you’ve got experts on hand who can engage these individuals on their own terms and in their area of focus. People often talk of multi-channel marketing as a way to surround a prospective audience, with the message tailored to each channel and context. A similar philosophy is at work with multi-character storytelling: the complete message is woven together by individual storylines that speak to different audiences.

Tech brands are used to telling tech stories to tech audiences, but tech audiences are no longer the single decision-maker. Don’t make the mistake of inviting other members of the C-suite and then continuing to talk only about the technology. If there are there cashflow benefits of your solution, a CFO may be interested. If there are productivity benefits, the Operations people will tune in. If there is a user-experience angle, tell that side of the story to the HR or talent representatives. Once you’ve got these ‘story threads‘ worked out, go back and offer them to your primary audience as lures to get them to bring these other decision-makers along, to hear the side of the story that answers “what’s in it for me?”, for them.

This is the sixth instalment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #5 How to profile & segment attendees    

> Up next in this series: #7 How to extend the reach of your event  

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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