Sunday, July 29, 2007

As attendance levels drop, the opportunities don’t need to.

Every B2b brand owner and every agency is worried about the increasingly larger numbers of “dropout” audiences at their business / lead generating events. On the surface the concern seems serious; the brand spends a lot of time (and monies) targeting, reaching out and securing registrations from its potential customers, channel partners and more. It then spends monies in staging an event, where-in, the dreaded attrition sets in.

Agencies and B2b brand owners are now battling a 50-60% attrition at most business cities across Asia and the reasons are multiple ranging from the prospect receiving too many invitations to attend forums (and getting pursued too hard by the agencies), to not enough content in the forum and also to deadlines at work back at the office.

So as the attrition percentage increases, is this the beginning of the end of the business events?

Far from it! But it is the beginning of the need to attract and retain attention. It is not enough to host an event in a fancy hotel with an excellent F&B spread – the serious prospect does not dig it anymore. The ability of these events to generate good ROI is increasingly reducing.

Content is king. It is better to host fewer but more powerful forums. While the logic is simple, very few seem to get it. Delegates complain to having to spend time on a subject which deserves nothing more than a white paper. Brand owner’s need to go easy on blatantly & naked lead generation oriented sales pitches at events.

However, attrition is the part of the game and hence the logical thing to do is to ensure that you have a plan to address the “drop-outs”. The plan has to integral to the overall plan to host the event. The techniques of addressing the drop-outs are plenty but thy need to be an integral part of the campaign.

Some of the more efficient tactics include a CRM program which is designed to address the drop outs, by way of access to whitepapers, presentations, courseware and methods of communicating to presenters like a well moderated discussion forum. Access to a delayed web-cast of the forum is another great way to reach the delegates who are interested, but are unable to attend the physical event. The analytics linked to the web-cast allows an excellent filtering mechanism to zero down on the interested potential customers. Review a good example of a web-cast here.

The law of percentages and a 50% attrition level; ensures that a well crafted and an integrated campaign to address the “drop-outs” will increase the ROI by 100% from its current levels. Don’t fret attrition, learn to ride it.

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