This two-part post is based on content shared during this webinar: “7 Result-Generating Ideas You Can Implement Today.” Among other topics, the program took a deep look at events as marketing tools for print operations. Print sales and marketing experts talked about how printers and in-plants can generate more revenue with event marketing. Joe Rickard laid out proven strategies for hosting print events, complemented by commentary from panel mate, Jeanette McMurtry.

For printers, the open house remains one of the most effective strategies in the marketing toolkit for generating business, but be careful of your event messaging, warn experts. Don’t limit yourself to a technology demo during these important customer engagements. Today, clients expect much more from their print providers beyond simply “print.” By broadening the scope of your messaging, you showcase your value as a true value-added partner, not just a fulfillment provider.

What Topics Bring Customers to Your Events?

A relevant topic that people can act on affordably is the most cost-effective and powerful way to build relationships, according to Jeanette McMurtry. “I was a CMO of a printing company a few years ago, and the most successful marketing we did was a power breakfast,” she said. “We’d talk about strategy – how you do better drip marketing, and ideas to get better response. We were expecting 30 people. We brought in a speaker from Xerox, and we got 90. The next event we got 120, and after that we had to move it from our site to a hotel. We got more sales leads from that for our sales team.”

“Lately in these events we see discussions that aren’t exactly printing, but instead how does printing work with other media? What’s going on in Adobe and the creative cloud, and how does that apply? Data is another one,” said Joe Rickard. “It really depends on your target audience and what they’d be interested in.” Changing markets, inks, presses, personalization — think about how these might be part of an irresistible agenda for your next customer event.

Rickard explains: “In the past, print providers often focused on technology, but marketing people, people who buy printing aren’t so interested in that. What will interest them are applications, the things you can do that impact their business. They’re looking for cross-media – how do you work with other media and communications channels? That’s the focus to drive.” (Maybe partner with a digital or social marketer on an event if that’s not your core skill set yet.)

Don’t be just feeds, speeds and “come see my hardware,” although that could be in the background. Do an open house with personnel manning different stations, demonstrating applications like large format or variable data printing. When they do that, it’s very professional, and people get interested. “I was at one customer appreciation in Boston, and they had all their production and data people at the cocktail party engaging customers. There were a lot of discussions between the customers, too,” said Rickard.

Different Types of Customer Events for Printers

There are lots of ways to do your event, with different themes, locations and agendas. These ideas might get you started:

  • Have experts and well-known speakers present.
  • Host a customer appreciation event for more of a networking experience.
  • Target the theme to new customers or a particular industry.

“The beauty of this is that any print provider can do this, whether you’re an in-plant or a commercial printer,” said Rickard. “This makes a lot of sense to build into your marketing program, and it’s easy to track. You know your results, and you can use different types of media channels to focus on it.”

Tips for Hosting Customer Events

  • People are busy. Don’t expect them to give you a whole day, so be judicious. Half a day — 3 to 4 hours — is the sweet spot.
  • Serve food whether breakfast, lunch or hors d’oeuvres, and focus around that.
  • Some locations could present parking issues, so figure out what makes sense for your location.
  • Walk the talk. Use the technology you’re trying to sell to promote the event. Showcase your capabilities in email, direct marketing or other channels.
  • Do at least one event a year, and keep everyone in the organization informed.
  • Involve different parts of your team, from production people to customer service.

Tools for Planning Business Development Events

“The ultimate objective is to get business,” said Rickard. “That’s what this is all about. But execution, doing it the right way, doing effective planning, that’s really going to have the impact on whether your event is going to be successful.”

Bottom line, there are tools to help you plan events to market your business. You can find ideas and other information at this Business Development resource page.

Like what you’re reading? This was just one of seven big ideas for growing revenue. Don’t stop with just one! This webinar has lots of good discussions about business building.