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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


The do’s and don’ts of cultivating new business at events

dream awards

I was kindly asked by our friends at Page and Page, who did our fabulous recent rebrand and website, to the Drum Dream Awards on Monday night. They were one of 3 shortlisted in the Publications Offline category and although they didn’t win, they were very proud to be shortlisted, especially as they’ve only been going for under 18 months.

It was a great evening, attended by the great and the good of the industry, with a few familiar names coming up trumps, Knit, Williams Murray Hamm and DLKW Lowe, to name a few.

I’m a great eavesdropper and was fascinated by some of the conversations I heard around the venue. The main theme being about why they should attend awards ceremonies, which got me thinking about exactly this.

It was obvious from some of the conversations I heard that some people go expecting to walk away with a bit of business or at the very least, establish new connections and potential relationships. This is so not true! Nominated agencies go only with the express purpose of collecting an award and gaining recognition amongst their peers, whereas any brands or companies that attend are there as sponsors or to bask in the reflected glory of their agencies. It is NOT a forum for business development and if you go expecting this, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

It’s the same with going along to events or exhibitions where your target audience are attending –  they are there to sell and not be sold to. Sure, it’s a great place to pick up a few business cards and establish or acknowledge a potential relationship BUT any attempt to sell overtly to them will be met with hostility (or something close to that at least!)

Get hold of these prospects following an event (of any kind), ask how it went, establish that you saw them there, albeit briefly, compliment them on their award/stand and then get down to the main purpose of the call, which is to get a meeting.

We do this on behalf of our clients a lot and it forms a vital part of a new business campaign – if a prospect has decent enough budgets to afford a stand at WTM for example, this will at least show that they have the desire and intent to proactively market themselves. Some will have decent budgets, others won’t, and it’s as important to deselect leads as it is to select them. It’s also a great source of data, allowing you to supplement your existing leads with companies and decision makers who you may not have already on your lists.

Every time you meet someone it’s an opportunity, as people still buy people, BUT there’s a fine line between going somewhere with the express purpose of winning business vs a more subtle, softer approach and mindset of hoping to meet some interesting and relevant people, engaging with them and following up afterwards with a phone call, email or via social media.

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