With terrifying figures floating about suggesting that a whopping 62% of leads are not followed up after an event, it’s prime time we asked why. Upon asking ourselves this question, we’ve come to the conclusion people just aren’t sure how to carry out an effective post-event follow-up, and therefore they put off doing it.
Today we thought we’d simplify the process for you with a 7-stage guide. Follow the below steps after each and every event to ensure you make the most of the networking opportunities you worked so hard to put in one place!
Just like you should welcome every guest when they arrive, you should also extend your thanks to visitors upon their departure. Not only is this common courtesy, but also a way to extend your means of communication with this particular network of people – opening up a realm of potential opportunities. You can send out emails, hand-deliver letters, mention attendees on Twitter – choose whichever method you think will be appreciated by your audience most, but choose wisely as this is the platform you will use to initiate effective communication across all mediums.
Thanks shouldn’t stop with guests, so be sure to also send a message to your suppliers, caterers, performers, speakers and sponsors. You can make your appreciation public but a private note should always accompany, as it’ll help build a more personal and direct repertoire. And like anything online or offline materials these days, branded is better. Make all of your follow-up steps aesthetically pleasing to heighten their efficiency (likelihood of even being opened!).
Post-event feedback is one of the most crucial stages in the follow-up process, as it allows you to extract raw data from a direct audience. If you create your feedback forms correctly, you’ll be able to see exactly what worked, where/if you went wrong and how you can improve next time. Without this kind of information you’re pretty clueless to whether or not you have met expectations. A successful event is one that exceeds expectations, and you’ll be surprised how easy this is to achieve when you actually take the time to obtain authentic feedback and implement real changes.
There are various ways you can ask for feedback but the most popular these days is to send a simple email with a Q&A or link to a multiple choice feedback form that can be submitted online. Alternatively, you can run polls on Social Media or even go traditional by distributing printouts at the end of the day/course.
Once you’ve met people in real life, you want to connect with them online. If you’ve obtained their email addresses and been able to pave an easy route of direct communication already, this will be easy – simply send out a message with clear, clever CTA’s letting everyone know you are on Social Media, offering a foolproof way to find you and, for best results, including some sort of incentive.
If you’ve got names and no email addresses, phone numbers or links, then you’ll have to put a little more effort into sourcing the Social Media accounts of attendees. Reach out, letting them know it was great to have them at the event or suggesting it would be awesome to see them at your next event too. It’s all about reminding them of your dedication, care and attentiveness to their needs while showcasing your skills. Get it right and eventually you’ll create real industry authority online.
Materials delivered on the day don’t have to become redundant just because the event is over. Hand-outs are great but often get lost, overlooked and screwed up at the bottom of bags, whereas direct mails, blog posts, photos, video recordings and other valuable content has a lot more longevity and power in terms of reach. Extend the life of your event and its message by departmentalising it in savvy ways.
Try creating a Facebook photo album full of shareable images from the event, or compile a newsletter detailing all of the highlights. This helps with the integration of channels and general recognition but also ensures that attendees have access to the parts of your event they may have missed – meaning no one is left feeling ‘conned’ or ‘disappointed’. Again, you should be aiming for ‘above and beyond expectations’ and nothing less.
This is further down on the list for good reason, so don’t jump ahead and begin promoting your products or services without first building an organic online relationship with your attendees first. After all, you wouldn’t want to be listed in their spam folder, would you?
Didn’t think so. In that case – save it till’ you’ve proven your authenticity and worth. And then when you do decide it’s time to introduce your products or services, take a subtle approach – mixing it in with the type of noteworthy content the audience is used to receiving from you. For example, add a special offer to your newsletter, post a specialised promo code on Social Media for attendees-only or deliver freebies to their work address (along with leaflets and business cards, obviously).
The above steps are post-event, so if you’ve been working on this project since the planning and preparation stage it’s safe to say you’ve been through a lot. Now it is time to take a few days to reflect on it all – from start to finish. Analyse your data from feedback forms, scowl Social Media for improvement indicators and last but most certainly not least, give yourself a big pat on the back for all of the things you did right!
Each and every event is a learning curve, and no two are exactly the same. To become an expert follow-uper, you must realise that there is always a need for progression and change. To see and maintain results, you must accept criticism and absorb assessments. None of this happens over night, and that’s alright.
Do you follow-up after every event? Which methods do you use and what is it that makes them so effective? Have your say by Tweeting your thoughts to @ShropsConf!