If your marketing efforts seem outdated and unproductive, it might be time to take a look at your marketing funnel, if you have one. If not, now is probably a good time to implement this valuable asset to attract new leads.
What is a marketing funnel?
Think about your common kitchen funnel. It starts out large at the top and gets smaller as it guides liquids, grains, and other matter through the bottom. A marketing funnel is much like this, capturing a group of interested leads and further qualifying them through increasingly “narrow” stages.
It’s designed to move potential customers in the open market into a branded funnel that pushes them into your company’s customer pipeline. This funnel should be designed to target leads that are the best fit for your business, aligning with your “target audience”.
With a series of strategic filters, your marketing funnel can automate the difficult task of pre-qualifying leads the moment they arrive in your inbox. This, of course, saves your business the time and money it would take to sort through a sea of unqualified leads. That’s why it’s okay if not everyone goes through your funnel – if anything, it’s actually better. This means your funnel is working.
For event professionals, there are two types of funnels that are most effective for winning new business: the sales funnel and the digital funnel. Let’s examine each of these concepts:
The sales funnel
Vendor funnels typically provide the most qualified leads because they come from direct referrals from other vendors in the industry. The idea is to build strategic industry partnerships where you can offer value to creative partners in exchange for referrals. This is a powerful strategy, but requires some groundwork before you can reap the benefits.
You should start by looking for “leaders”, i.e. suppliers who are usually booked first in the timeline. Venues are the most common first choice because the event space plays such an important role in later decisions. Event planners sit right behind venues, as they are often reserved early in the process.
You’ll find that venues often hold open houses to invite reserved and potential customers, as well as vendors they work closely with. Develop an effective strategy to deploy at these events that will attract qualified leads and move them directly into your pipeline.
Don’t be afraid to be creative – today’s customer is looking for an experience, so being unique can set you apart from your competition. Offer them something of value in exchange for their time, but I recommend avoiding discounts or offers as the primary magnet. With most events and especially with weddings, pricing tends to be secondary. Using a discount to drive new business will only attract penny-hungry customers who are more interested in saving a few bucks than receiving a top-notch experience.
Another way to earn more vendor referrals is to simply show up and do a great job at your job. If you’re there for an event and you finish early, take the opportunity to lend a hand to other vendors. After all, we only give referrals to suppliers we want to continue working with, right? Make yourself an asset and ask yourself what you can do to improve others’ experience.
The digital funnel
Your digital funnel comes into play with your online marketing strategies in an effort to attract new business through social media, email marketing, media relations, and other digital tactics. Social media advertising is one of the most popular options for this route because it’s easier than ever to create an ad that targets newly engaged couples with a call to action.
However, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s inherently strategic. Digital ads can be extremely effective, but they should work for you. The design and copy of an ad should be aimed at your ideal client and no one else. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for that overwhelming sea of unqualified leads. If, for example, you’re targeting the luxury wedding market, use images and text that evoke an elaborate, glamorous image that will attract well-paying clients while subtly showing budget-conscious couples that you’re not suitable. to their needs.
The same goes for email marketing and other online outreach tactics. However, keep in mind that these digital strategies are only a first step. A good ad or a compelling email will only get prospects interested, but they’re probably not ready to book yet. Instead, that first lead magnet should guide prospects to a landing page that provides them with more information, which will then lead them either to a new stage in your funnel (like a downloadable, blog post, or another piece of content marketing) is directly in your pipeline as a new request.
A note on funnels
Marketing funnels should be a highly targeted process, with each stage focusing on specific content with a single call to action that will drive potential customers to the next stage. This is why digital funnels work better with landing pages rather than directing leads to a website’s home page. A website usually contains far too much information, as well as many options for your prospect’s next step. Don’t let them make that decision; instead, use your marketing funnel to guide them to the next step where you want them to be.
If you want them to see your favorite blog post, use an ad to draw them there, and then use that blog post to provide them with another call to action that brings them to your portfolio. From your portfolio, highlight the great pieces you want to show off and direct them to your contact page. Deal done. If they land on your homepage without direction, they’re much more likely to click.
So what’s the next step?
Whichever funnel you find most effective for your business, every lead will end up in the same place: a request that needs a response, entering the sales workflow, but that’s a whole other topic. However, just because your sales pipeline sees a lot of action doesn’t mean your job is done on your marketing funnel.
As with any new strategy or campaign, it’s essential to regularly evaluate the performance of your marketing funnel to ensure it’s operating at peak efficiency. It will take historical data to determine an effective benchmark, so keep working on it and finding new ways to increase those conversion rates.
By being disciplined in your marketing strategy, you will eventually strike the perfect balance for your business with a fully optimized funnel that delivers an immense amount of leads into your pipeline.
Included on the latest special events”Young event professionals to watch”, Jake Anderson is the founder and host of AdventureMind TV, a channel dedicated to providing event professionals with educational resources to develop their strategic role within a company. Anderson is also the director of PartyTech, a business solutions company dedicated to advancing the digital world for the special events industry. He retains a role as founding partner and strategic director of his first company, Lighting teachersa large-scale event lighting provider based in central Virginia.