By Ed Pierce, Fleet Industry Marketer
My just-completed series on “Marketing Scams” resulted in more feedback than usual, and it is heartening to know that several executives are looking more carefully at marketing events to prove their real value.
In my August column, I wrote about a number of executive consulting groups and event companies offering “exclusive” executive events for a limited number of sales representatives to attend. The promise of meeting with key C-level decision-makers seemed too good to be true.
Too Good to Be True
My conclusion was that the event is exactly that – too good to be true. I pointed out that the invited sales reps’ companies (sponsors) were paying for all of the expenses of those C-level attendees. The sponsors were also paying for the venue and the organizer’s fee and expenses.
While the C-level attendee is willing to meet with a vendor in exchange for a visit to a resort or other nice venue, there is little reason for him or her to do anything more than promise to have the pertinent manager consider the offer. That manager is likely to be the same contact the sales rep is talking to (or trying to talk to) in the first place. That could backfire!
But I want to distinguish between these “executive events” – run by event companies with no connection to an industry and “Buyer Events” events run by trusted organizations within the fleet industry that have a proven track record of connecting buyers and suppliers.
Buyer Event Differences
A “Buyer Event” works like this: The conference organizing group invites targeted fleet decision-makers with the promise to cover all costs. In return, these fleet decision-makers commit to complete a certain number of vendor appointments ahead of time.
The vendors know in advance who they will meet and how many appointments they will have. In return, they agree to split the costs for the buyers’ attendance, plus the organizer’s fee. Of course, they gain a better measure of the event’s ROI based on the number of appointments and the quality of the contacts.
While these “Buyer Events” can be perceived as delivering “forced appointments” that neither side really wants, the organizer can overcome this situation. Using sophisticated software, appointment matches are set by selecting and qualifying the invited buyers based on sponsors’ target market demographics, user needs and responsibilities. Criteria include the buyer’s decision-making power within the company, purchase intentions for the next 6-12 months, and much more.
As always, I welcome feedback, questions, suggestions, experiences and differing points of view from fleet product and service providers as well as from fleet managers, corporate buyers, consultants, trade association and media representatives. Just send an email to EdPierce@ITAcommunications.com.