How many times have you heard that building your marketing list is the most important activity you can do in your business? Too many times, I’m sure. And how successful have you been so far? Yeah – I thought so. A strong and engaged marketing list is literally like money in the bank. In fact, I like to say that it’s an asset for your business – as much as any existing customer or equipment or even YOU. It’s not so much the size of the list that matters per se, it’s how engaged and conditioned they are to buy from you. That is the key. So if you’ve got a small list or even a large list that’s just sitting there gathering dust and not buying – then you want to put your face closer to this screen, lean in and pay attention. I’m about to reveal a super, crazy sneaky way to not only build your list, but get you building much more powerful and profitable partnerships. And, this is the best part, you’ll be giving your customers education, information and value that they couldn’t get access to if they tried. It’s All About Virtual Events If you’ve ever been to an association conference where you fly to a location, stay in a hotel and then go to session after session – sometimes not being able to attend a session you really wanted to see because they were concurrent – you are already 80% there to understanding what a virtual event is. A virtual event is nothing more than a multi-day conference – ONLINE! Like any other conference you’ve been to, it’s got expert speakers, it’s got presentations, learning, free gifts and new people to meet. What makes a virtual event BETTER than a conference is that you don’t have to spend any money traveling, you don’t have to spend money to get the list of attendees and it’s the perfect win-win-win scenario for everyone involved. The only downside (and this is where it’s sort of similar to a real conference), it’s a TON of work up front. No kidding. You will pay for the leads you get using the currency of time and money and a lot of detailed follow up and coordination. But I think it’s a small price to pay. The Bare Basics of How to Put a Virtual Event Together I can’t give you all the details here, but you’ll certainly get a flavor for what to do and why to do it this way. Come up with a big idea. You’ll need a “big idea” - nothing boring or specific. Just think of a trend or a topic that people are talking about and that they want to engage in and use it as a theme. Have fun with this – that’s the most important advice I can give. You might choose something like “Growing in a Green Economy.” The idea is to have a theme that your audience is interested in and where you can bring together experts from a variety of different disciplines to participate. Invite some experts. Now you’re ready to brainstorm experts on that theme. Really challenge yourself to pick some “A” players (people with large mailing lists), “B” players – people who are coming up as experts or are experts in a particular industry or market, and some “C” players – these are simply folks who are new to the party and haven’t been discovered yet. Collect “Freebies.” Each of your experts should have a web site and an email list that they can promote their participation to. They should also have something available to give for “free” when people land on their site. It might be an ebook, report, video series – something like that. (So when you’re choosing experts – be sure to look for those must-haves. They are key.) Create a promotional package for the speakers. Once you have recruited your experts, you want to make it easy for them to promote your event to THEIR audience. So create two emails (written from their point of view) and some social media blasts (focus on twitter length, but have it work for Facebook and LinkedIn as well). Everyone promotes to their list. The next step is EVERYTHING. Everyone who is involved promotes this event to their list. When those people click on the promotional email – they will come and register with YOU. This is how you grow your list. But when all of those people click on their free gift – they will flip over to the expert’s list. The Win-Win-Win Explained The visitors (registrants) get a TON of free information from real experts they could never afford to hire, so they’re happy. The experts get new people on their lists, so they are happy. You, as the organizer get all of these people on your list when they sign up to the event. The last benefit and payoff for all the hard work is the new partnerships and relationships you’ve developed with these experts. Priceless. So, let’s review. A virtual event is a super way to build your list, build new partner relationships and make some money in the process. So, what are you waiting for?
Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com - an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose - regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers.