The industry is calling:

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There’s been much press coverage about consumers becoming increasingly annoyed with telemarketing at home, with many of us thinking there could be nothing worse than getting a sales call when you’re about to tuck into your dinner. However, a new trend has been developing in the industry with telemarketers now being primed to call potential pre-reg attendees in a bid to improve visitor numbers. We can all be forgiven for thinking that telemarketing is an unpopular marketing channel (think, mis-sold PPI calls), but marketing as a function has grown more sophisticated and with new marketing automation and technologies, has gained a higher profile within many organisations. The go-to for promotional channels has tended to be social media, email and direct mail invitations which can be effective, but speaking to your invitees directly is potentially the surest way of generating attendance at events. It can also be one of the few ways of discovering why invitees don’t plan to attend and engaging with those who are strong prospects but just can’t make the date. Email marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be. As the events industry becomes increasingly competitive, organisers have to look elsewhere for more and more advantages. “There is no better way of communicating your message than picking up the phone,” Tracey McInnes managing director of Procom Connections Ltd tells EN. “More organisers are realising that they need to kick off the telesales/telemarketing activity more or less at the same time as other promotional activity. “In the past, telemarketing was used more as an emergency measure near to an event deadline when other marketing media had not delivered the results. This rarely works unless you are lucky or have a brand that sells itself and a free-to-attend event,” she adds. The past 18 months have seen a major boost in event organisers using telemarketing to boost events. A call can allow you to outline the benefits of an event to a prospect, and collect comments from the decision maker. It also allows you to gather intelligence about your potential new customer and guage the potential success of your event. The real issue is not the call, but the quality of the data.Sophistication “The data-led nature of telemarketing, the measurement and ROI it can provide and its ability to integrate with other channels, is in tune with these new approaches and technologies,” says Niall Habba, managing director of The Telemarketing Company (TTMC). “With the arrival of digital and social media, the emphasis was on human engagement on a vast scale. Marketers shifted to new channels, but are now focusing on a multichannel approach with a new appreciation on the value of one-to-one human engagement. “The flexibility of telemarketing means it can add valuable human interaction at any stage of a campaign and dovetail neatly with other channels, often bridging the gap between marketing and sales.” Habba says the Brighton-based firm has always had a strong demand for event telemarketing, both from event organisers as well as direct clients organising their own events. “Calling is time consuming and can dilute in-house resources, so we are often engaged when clients need a dedicated campaign. Given the importance of timing with event organisation, we provide a flexible resource which can be used at any stage of the promotion, to initiate interest among early birds, nurture interest over time or drive registrations with a strong push in the late stages, either as a standalone activity or alongside other media.” Like TTMC, Procoms Connections not only focuses on the primary objective of securing attendance but also looks to add value in other ways. Telemarketing agencies also include services such as exhibitor and visitor data clean and build, data qualification, lead generation, exhibition stand sales, delegate sales, exhibitor support calls, VIP event attendance and also post-event research to visitors and exhibitors. Post-event It is also important that the event is not forgotten as soon as it is over. “Any follow up activity needs to be progressed and leads chased to ensure a full ROI. If in-house resources are limited, telemarketing can be used to keep on top of these follow ups, providing the sales team with well qualified leads that have higher propensity to convert,” Habba explains. “If you do have a significant number of registrants who don’t turn up on the day, you can still use those contacts to bring value for the event. If key individuals are in your ‘no show’ list, a follow up call can secure an opportunity or sales appointment.” Unlike emails, a phone call is hard to ignore and can provide the opportunity to nurture interest and gain insight that can be further developed at an event. McInnes says: “The industry benefits by being able to be more targeted, speak to their prospects and get feedback and increased brand awareness, optimise event attendance and in some instances even rescue a situation such as bad attendance due to snow.” Telemarketing can help secure the quality of events by providing “a more compelling mechanism” to get the right quality and quantity of attendees to the particular conference or exhibition, explains Habba. A pre-event or post show follow up call, harnessing the power of telemarketing and speaking directly to your customer, is still a vital component to the success of your show.    This article was first published in the June issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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