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If you are currently planning your marketing budget for next year you have probably thought of a lunch and learn and a trade show as ways for lead generation. Either of them have their merits but you have to decide what your purpose for the event is? Do you want a mass or targeted prospect? I have written a previous blog on this matter. Let’s explore:

Trade Show:

  • Spy on Competition – Where else can you send a few people to your competitions location to gather data and they are open to give it?
  • Wide Audience – You can hit a wide group of people in your target market in a short span and gather data quickly for a lead nurturing campaign.
  • Recruiting Distributors and Dealers – There will be prospects as well as people who you can connect with that will be able to resell your products or services
  • Cost Per Prospect – a booth can be anywhere from $1 to $500 depending on the number of people attending and the cost of the booth.
  • Market Research – A great place to survey a large group of people about your current and/or future products and services.

Lunch & Learn:

    • Focus –  You can concentrate on pre-qualified prospects and then focus on those not ready to purchase now and put them in a lead nurturing campaign for further lead scoring and qualification.
    • Targeted Audience – Your pre-qualified prospects can be targeted from previous lead nurture campaigns, specific lists, previous or current customers. You can select who hears your message. It will not be just someone random.
    • Time Spent With Prospect – Once you are at the lunch and learn you have the prospects attention for longer than a few seconds as they pass by your booth. You do not have to worry about a mass appeal and the prospect will be in a more relaxed atmosphere.
    • Learn More About Prospect – Because you are able to spend more time with the prospect and hopefully you have had the prospect go through some pre-qualifiers, you will be able to ask more specific questions geared towards their challenges and solutions.
    • More Qualified Prospect –You will have a more qualified prospect that will allow you to shorten the sales cycle, increase your profitability, and have the ability to increase your value as a trusted advisor.

 

It really boils down to what are your goals of the event? Do you want a mass or targeted prospect? Are you looking to gather data or give a specific message? It is really up to you to decide? Think of this: how long of a sales cycle are you to have for 2012? Can you afford in today’s economic climate to wait for that prospect to reach out to you; or, do you want to take an active approach in your lead generation and lead nurturing going into 2010?  The Decision is yours.

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Now that you have decided to have a lunch and learn, here are several starting tips for having a successful event.

Make sure you have something everyone would like to eat. Let your prospect choose a meal (allow them to change if they want) ahead of time. That way they know that there is something on the menu that they would like to eat.

Use a telemarketing service to make sure you have qualified attendees. You can use your own sales staff and support group to call your current customers and invite them but why not let the experts invite and qualify your prospects.

Use a landing page for registration and data collection. That way there is not any attendee information that can be lost or misplaced and you can pull reports to help calculate the return on investment.

Over book the event. If you want 20 make sure you book 40. Things happen, emergencies, outages, accidents, double bookings, bosses pulling them into unexpected meetings, births, anything can happen. Expect half the attendees that you sign up to show up.

Make sure you have enough room/food for everyone. I cannot stress this enough. I have attended several lunches that were overcrowded, hot, stuffy, and it makes everyone miserable. As well, how embarrassing is it if you run out of food? Is that the impression that you want for your company? I have been there before as an attendee and it was extremely embarrassing for the scrambling host.

Make sure your prospect list is targeted. No matter how you send out your invites, make sure that the people you are inviting would benefit from your services and are not there just for a free lunch. Take a look at your target list and add some qualifiers/ranges. No one wants to waste valuable marketing dollars for attendees that have no interest in your solution.

Make sure your speaker/presenter is an expert. I have attended numerous luncheons, trainings, and presentations where the presenter did not know the answers to 50% of the questions that were being asked. You are the experts presenting the information. They came to the luncheon to hear you speak about the topic. If your expert can not make it, either reschedule or let your attendees know ahead of time.

Make sure your company representatives can answer questions. This might not be the perfect time for your new people to reach out to your prospects. Everyone needs to have their game face on and be as sharp as a tack.

Content is the key, if the topic has been done over and over or if it is outdated people will not want to go. Check around, has there been 10 other lunch and learns on X solution over past three months? If there has been then try solution Y as your topic.

Think outside the box, your prospects are getting bombarded every day with emails, voicemails, fliers, and calls inviting them to events. Set yourself apart try a themed luncheon or try some place that there is an activity to participate in after your presentation.

There are more tips and tidbits to come. This is not an end all solution blog but you should get a great start. Did I miss anything?
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You have many ways of generating leads for your business: mailers, fliers, phone book advertisements, radio, and television. As well, there are networking activities like joining a particular group, sharing your experiences, learning about others experiences, and using word of mouth. You also have trade shows, where you can meet (at a good one) hundreds to thousands of people and as they stop by your booth or you stop by theirs. There is Internet Marketing, where there are keywords and search engine optimization activities that are designed to drive traffic to your website and have people interact with your call-to-action items on the web. All of these are good ways to generate leads and each have different levels of tracking, effectiveness and return on investment.

Another, tried and true ways of pitching your businesses’ goods or services to a group of prospects is a lunch and learn. Where you get a group of anywhere from 20 to 40 people in a room, feed them a good meal (sometimes there is a giveaway) and you hopefully have a captive audience for a hour to a hour and a half to relationship build and pitch your solutions, goods, and/or services.

Measuring the return on investment on a lunch and learn is easy. You take the cost of the event. For an example let’s say $2,000.00. You want to invite 20 targeted prospects to the event. Then divide the total cost ($2,000.00) by the number of prospects you would like to attend (20) and you have $100.00 per prospect to attend your lunch and learn event.

Then take the margin of a single solution, good, or service that you would like to talk about specifically (typically you would only pitch one concept). For a $10,000.00 solution at a 6% margin you have $600.00 in margin. You would need to sell four solutions to pay for the event; average close ratio is 20%. You should pay for the event and have 16 new targeted prospects to put into a lead nurturing campaign for the future as well as four new customers for your sales representatives to dig deeper and find more opportunities.

There are many ways for generating leads for your company and each have their different return on investment of time and money. One of the proven ways is a lunch and learn event. You have a captive audience that is there not only for a good meal but wants to hear about your business and how you can help make their lives easier.

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