MARKETING STRATEGIES: Holding events that engage customers

feature-engage-200The objective behind customer engagement is to find different ways to connect to your customers to continue the relationship, show your appreciation of their continued support and encourage them to rebuy and to refer. One of the most effective ways to engage customers is through customer events.

Whether the event is for education, celebration, product announcement, product update, staff promotion, prize giving or a charity, the objective is to connect with the customer. Events can be by invitation or open to the public, full fee, subsidised or free and limited to one activity or several.

What are you trying to achieve?

If you are putting on a customer event, you need to be very clear what you are trying to achieve. Too many vendors put on customer events without thinking through how they will engage with the customer at the event or what outcome they are seeking. Many events provide the customer with a good time where they talk to the same people in their social circle without in any way interacting with vendor staff. Alternatively, vendor staff spend all their time talking to each other and not with customers.

Many vendors have ‘customer days’ where they invite their best customers to a location where they can see the latest products, talk to sales and marketing staff about the new products and try some of them. Customers usually appreciate the effort by the vendor to provide them with the opportunity to see new products and have an inside view of the operation. Hopefully, this type of event converts some of them to new purchases or encourages them to refer new product to others.

Vendor conferences are used to provide product updates as well as educational opportunities. Often customers have unusual access to R&D staff and head office executives. Marketing will normally share information about the sector and provide a view of future developments. These customer conferences can be a powerful competitive advantage where customers are made to feel safe in the hands of their current supplier.

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