Take a few minutes to bask in the loveliness of my new picture, and imagine this scenario. You’ve just spoken at a conference, and I’ve been sitting in the front row, nodding, making notes, smiling as you perform. And after you’ve walked off stage, you find me there waiting, arm outstretched. You stop, grasp my hand, and smile. And I say; “I enjoyed your presentation, and find you very attractive. I wondered if you’d like to come back to my hotel for some really hot sex?”
Now, I’m guessing (but prepared to be surprised) that this approach would probably have you stepping backwards and looking around desperately for help. I have to confess that it’s an approach that’s had limited success for me in the past. (Although there was this conference in Mainz….)
I digress; let’s take two. You walk off stage and there I am, but this time you hear the words, “I enjoyed your presentation and thought you raised some really interesting points. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss it further, and wondered if I could buy you a coffee?”
I can reveal that approach has never failed to start some kind of relationship, and it’s what conference and event marketing should be about. We’re not selling double-glazing (a purchase every 20 years, so let’s go in hard) so we should be thinking about a long-term relationship, rather than a one night stand. Yet every day I see (and am often subjected to) that kind of “wham bam” marketing that rarely succeeds. Glossy brochures landing on the desk usually go straight into the recycling; whereas e-mails that contain genuine news or research will get a more than cursory glance. Invitations to download White Papers or share survey results are all grist to my mill.
So, the moral of the story is that you need to be thinking of how to engage in the AIDA model of communication; Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. And that’s unlikely to be simply one message, or piece of marketing collateral. It’s about playing the long game, wooing and waiting. Or, in chat-up vernacular, astriking opening line, cup of coffee, flowers, and time for foreplay.
The so-called “funnel”, so popular in presentations, works the same way; many organisations will tempt you by offering a free report before gently reeling you in with a low-cost item and then building up to something with a huge price. But once you’ve created that essential trust, you can get away with (almost) anything.
As for the sudden, unexpected sexual encounter, offered brazenly upfront, they remain few and far between. Even Mrs John will only admit to one surprising session over the washing machine. And that’s meant we could never, ever return to Comet.