Fun fact: Did you know tradeshows and events are the second most effective tactic in a marketer’s mix, right after the company’s website?

It’s true. In today’s digital-centric world, in-person events are a more powerful marketing tool than ever before. Consumers are inundated with online marketing tactics (like email, social ads, and campaigns), so in-person events offer a welcome personal touchpoint. Turns out those handshakes really work!

That personal touchpoint has some serious upside, too: According to EMI, 74% of event attendees say they have a more positive opinion about a company, brand, product, or service after an event or live promotion. Even better, after attending an event, attendees are 16X more likely to buy; 87% of attendees said they purchased the brand's product or service after attending an event.

In-person events allow you to:

  • Build face-to-face personal relationships

  • Help attendees experience your brand on your terms

  • Build pipeline and close deals without being “salesy”

You don’t have to be a large enterprise to capitalize on the events train. In fact, some of our best Salesforce events are intimate executive dinners with 10-20 like-minded people. Why? The connections and conversation that comes from these dinners are invaluable, the expense isn’t a major drain on a limited budget, and the resulting pipeline might shock you.

So how can your small business capitalize? Here are 4 tips to drive pipeline through live, in-person events.


1. Align sales and marketing.

If you want to maximize event participation and ROI, you’ve got to consult your sales team. Why? First of all, they've developed close relationships with clients, so know which marketing messages are particularly effective. Second, they’re the ones who’ll actually work that pipeline, so it’s helpful to have their input on which leads to go after. Third, when both sides are aligned on messaging and flow, the event dramatically improves (as does its outcome). According to an Altify study, misalignment between sales and marketing can cost companies 10% of revenue or more per year. But when sales and marketing teams work together, companies see a 38% increase in sales wins, and 36% higher customer retention.


2. Identify your target audience.

Once your sales and marketing teams are aligned, the next step is to identify your target audience so you can create a tailored experience just for them.

  • Who does sales need to connect with? Is it the executive, a key decision maker, or maybe a technology champion? Figure it out.

  • What’s the objective of the event? Pipeline is the desired result, but what do you want attendees to walk away with? Is it product knowledge, or perhaps networking connections?

  • What kind of activities attract this type of audience? If your goal is to inspire, think about bringing in a thought-leader to share expertise. If your goal is product knowledge, think about bringing in a Sales Engineer or Product Developer.  


3. Tailor the message.

You want to make sure for whatever in-person event you’re doing, you’re tailoring the messaging and experience for that specific audience. How do you create an exclusive unique experience for them? People are inundated with messages — make yours stand out. This is how you create a unique, targeted experience that money can’t buy.


4. Follow up.

Last but definitely not least, you’ve got to follow up. You planned and executed a great event experience that produced qualified leads; now you need to strike while the iron is hot. The quicker you connect, the better. Here at Salesforce, we ask our sales team to follow up with attendees within 24 hours, and registrants within 48 hours. And don’t forget to send a survey so you’ll know how you can improve for the next event. Every touchpoint helps!

Salesforce can help you find customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can grow your business faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions or follow us on Twitter @SalesforceSMB and join the conversation with #SalesforceEssentials.