If you read my previous post, you know that roundtable events can produce serious sales. After years of producing successful roundtable events and marrying the art to the science necessary to yield real marketing benefits, I want to share with you a few of the most crucial aspects that can make or break your roundtable.
Be strategic with the topic
Define the topic(s) very carefully. In most, but not all cases, the topic should hit the intersection of your product benefits and what is on the minds of the attendees. We recently produced a roundtable event for Kronos, a workforce management company, that did exactly this. The topics addressed current and topical workforce management issues that allowed attendees (human resources professionals) to share strategies on three big questions facing their industry. All of which Kronos has solutions for. The topics included:
- How can small and mid-size businesses mitigate the proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
- How can they find and keep the best talent?
- How can companies be sure they’re compliant with ever-changing Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements?
Get the marketing mix right
Take a multi-channel approach to marketing the event including emails, phone calls and take advantage of any face-to-face meetings. Having sales involved in the invitation process gives them a great opportunity to reach out to customers and prospects without selling anything. Make sure your marketing efforts highlight the benefits of why they should attend and the key takeaways.
DO NOT sell
I repeat, do not sell! Yes, the goal of the roundtable is to produce serious sales benefits. But when done right, there is no selling happening at the event. Here’s how.
A good salesperson does fact-gathering before selling a product. Roundtables are a great opportunity to listen. There are 3 opportunities at a round table obtain invaluable sales insights:
- During registration or breakfast (before the round table kicks off), you can ask, “what brought you here?” In my experiences over 50% of the time you will get a response that will lead to a sales opportunity.
- If you have a sales person listening in to the actual round table, you will hear about all sorts of problems that your company can likely solve.
- After the round table is over, you can ask “what were your top 2-3 takeaways from the event?”. Again, at least 50% of the time, you will hear something that leads to an opportunity.
While we have had our clients have a senior sales person at each round table, they are always instructed only to share (non-confidential) anecdotes that they have seen from their other clients. Your sales people should collect the intel they pick up and simply call the prospect a few days later and say “Thanks for coming. At the event, you mentioned X, Y and Z. Does it make sense to set up some time for us to discuss how we can help you with those issues?”
Who is moderating?
Having terrific moderators is critical. The moderator is responsible for stimulating the discussion (with a few questions prepared in advance), ensuring the topic doesn’t stray too far and no one monopolizes the conversation. Most importantly, it’s the moderator’s job to try to get everyone involved in the discussion. Moderators should have reasonable knowledge of the topic, although they do not need to be experts. The most important quality of a moderator is their ability to facilitate a productive and meaningful dialogue amongst the participants.
The magic number
In my experience, between 8 and 12 people per table is ideal for each roundtable, and I feel most comfortable with up to three tables (each with a different subtopic) within the one event. Remember roundtables are not meant to be big events.
Turn the roundtable into a long-lasting content asset
Make sure you record the roundtable discussions, this content can be repurposed and used across multiple marketing platforms. Start by publishing a summary with highlights of the event on your company blog and emailing it to attendees and those who missed out. Listen out for best practices, innovative ideas and issues which you can provide solutions to, and keep that content coming. Just be careful not to disclose any of the participants’ confidential or proprietary information. Also, let them know at the onset of the discussion that content will be produced they may request to comment “off the record” at any time.
These are just a handful of fundamentals for your palette to execute effective roundtable events. Need help with your roundtables? Shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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