Using Events as Marketing with Christine Yodsukar
For a long time I despised marketing because I did not have a strategy for our B2B video and photo company. Anything that I had tried, like posting on Facebook and Instagram or email marketing, did not seem to work for me. These strategies work when done well, but I did not figure them out and was getting frustrated. A mentor told me to look at my best clients—the 80/20 rule—and figure out the commonality between all of them. Were they all the same type of business? Did they all have the same product or service? Did they all find us through Google?
Our best clients are those who were regular repeat clients, who invested with us, who we enjoyed working with. Our best clients were people we had built strong personal relationships with. They trusted us, knew our work and came back again and again. The commonality was the personal relationships. So I took the advice from my mentor and focused on bringing in new business by building more authentic relationships.
As we build relationships with the intent to grow our business, we need to remember that people can smell phony a mile away, and no one wants a phony friend. So while we are going after building business relationships, we also want to remember to be a cool human. Don’t go straight for booking. Go into situations where you might find a new connection, looking for people you would have fun with and enjoy being around. For more on this, read my article “Business Is Personal: How to Leverage Your Personality to Get More Business” in the November 2018 Shutter.
Now that I knew I wanted to focus on building more relationships, I had to figure out where I was going to invest my time and energy to make that happen. Networking can be great, but in many of the groups I have visited, not much business happens at the end of the day. I needed a situation where I could make a great personal connection and be in a position of influence. At the same time, my little family and I had just moved to a new city and we were going to local events as we got the lay of the land. One event was hosted by the most well-known swim shop in Portland. It is eclectic, caters to all sizes and does custom alterations…and it has a fully stocked tiki bar for everyone to enjoy while they shop. That is the kind of company I wanted to work with: progressive, mission-driven, successful.
How could I start a relationship with them? A lightbulb went off. My company would sponsor the event and deliver an amazing video to them at the end. We would get one-on-one access to the owner of the swim shop and he would get to see how we work and what a final deliverable looks like from us. Reaching out was easy. They responded almost instantly with a big fat yes, and we even got a booth for our B2C Portrait Studio at the event in return. It was already a win-win. That one sponsored video in the summer of 2016 has since turned into almost 20 jobs with his companies, and he refers us and gives us rave reviews. I was sold: Events are the new marketing.
Our first paid gig with his company came almost immediately after the event we sponsored. He had a lot of work, and he wanted to make sure we were the ones working on it with him and his company. As soon as I saw how successful this was, I started to pay attention to all the events happening in my new city. Who was sponsoring the event, who was hosting it and who was in any way involved? Were any of these companies ones I wanted to work with?
Recently there was an event in my city called the Zero Waste Conference that focused on ways we can get closer as individuals and businesses to producing no trash. Earlier this year, I had found the zero waste movement and latched onto it, so this small conference was of interest to me. With my new marketing strategy in the works, I looked at what other businesses would be sponsoring or speaking at the event. It turns out that the coffee roaster I had been following for over a year was speaking at and sponsoring the event. As soon as I saw that, I knew this was my opportunity. I reached out to the organizer and asked if they already had a video sponsor. The next day, we were signed on to do a highlight video of the event and deliver video of each speaker’s speech. Was this a lot of work? Yes. Could we have just done a highlight video and called it a day? Yes. Delivering the individual talks played an important role in my strategy. Individual talks gave me an even deeper connection with each speaker.
At the event, I talked with the two people representing the coffee company: the marketing director and manager of their newest cafe. After their talk, I chatted with them. I did not ask if they needed a new video. I did not pitch them ideas. I simply told them what I loved about their talk, and then I thanked them for being a part of the event.
I asked the organizer for the contact info of each of the speakers so I could personally deliver their speeches to them. Bingo. Fast forward to delivery time. I knew that I wanted this event sponsorship to turn into a relationship with the coffee company I had been fangirling for over a year. I carefully crafted my email to them with an open heart and loads of passion. I told them I had been following their company, how I found out about them, why I loved them. I linked them to the video and asked if they had been thinking about their 2019 marketing videos. I said I had a couple of ideas I’d love to share with them. The marketing director quickly replied to say they had no plans for video marketing for 2019 because they had no resources to do it, and wanted to hear my ideas, in person, at their newest cafe.
At that meeting a week ago, instead of proposing my ideas, I simply asked questions. I asked what their goals were for the next year, what their most important projects are. Through this, I learned so much about the company, but the marketing director also talked about their two big projects. At the end of the meeting, they asked me to put together two proposals. Go time!
This story isn’t over yet. I do not have a signed contract or a filming date, but even if the proposals aren’t exactly what they are looking for, I know that because of the real relationship I have built with them, the conversation will continue until we find a way to work together. That is the power of building real relationships, not cold calls or emails.
Do you have a company you would love to work with but have no connection with? Find out what events they will be at and put yourself there in a position of influence. Use events as marketing. Show up and build authentic relationships with specifically targeted people and companies.