Conferences and physical events are canceled, yes, but that doesn’t mean that building relationships with your customers and prospects has to stop. You can still generate leads, solidify customer relationships, provide training, and even generate PR, and virtual events or webinars aren’t the only way to do it.
So what else can you do? How can you effectively reallocate those dollars? Bring the events to them. Think personalized care packages, branded swag, events in a box. Dan Frohnen, CMO of the direct mail company Sendoso, explains, “What we’ve found is that people are receptive to having conversations with brands that come across as helpful and empathetic, and a thoughtful direct mail piece or personalized gift can create a sense of connection to the world.” (It doesn’t hurt that this is also a great way to align your sales and marketing teams as they coordinate sends.)
In a recent AdAge article, Dan answered some of questions about direct mail and listed some examples that other companies have sent during this time, to include:
- Video mailers: boxes with a personal video message and marketing collateral/giveaway
- Conference in a box with all the collateral/giveaways a prospect would have received at an event, plus a thoughtful handwritten note
- Personalized items based on what a marketer knows about a recipient
- Virtual care packages via grocery and food delivery services so customers can support local businesses while quarantined
- Subscriptions to streaming platforms, podcasts, magazines or educational services
- Customized eGift choices, including the option to donate to charity
- Work-from-home care packages with things like coffee mugs, snack packs, and a “Do Not Disturb-Genius at Work” door placard so the kids know when mom or dad is in a meeting
We also recommend you consider deliverables that customers and prospects can use during your virtual events to give them more incentive to participate, like breakfast for onboarding and training webinars to replace the typical coffee and snacks table. For a virtual happy hour, SAP sent their customers a package containing all the ingredients for a cocktail, and then, during the meeting, they brought in a professional mixologist to teach them how to put it together.
SAP’s cocktail-in-a-box hour is just one of countless ways that companies can think outside of the box to engage with their customers and prospects, to build those valuable relationships that garner customer champions and close new deals. As Drew Neisser, the CEO of marketing agency Renegade LLC explains in a recent report on B2B demand generation, “This approach is good for both customer and prospect events but ideally should tie back to your brand story.”
One note of caution, however: it’s especially important to respect your customers and prospects boundaries, so give them the option to opt into receiving a package at their home. Dan Frohnen shares some suggestions: “You can do that with a quick email asking them to confirm the best address or a landing page offer with a form fill to collect information.”