Pedro Count You already know what it is to mark with the shirt of Shabab Al Ahli. The Cordoba striker opened his scoring account with the Red Knights in an unbeatable scenario: the Asian Champions League. On the opening day of the competition, Count signed 1-1 against Pakhtakor, who continued to make a fortress of his stadium and ended up taking all three points.In a game marked by rain, Pakhtakor opened the scoring at 18 minutes thanks to a great shot by Masharipov from outside the area. The Uzbeks left winning the break, but after the resumption Pedro Conde was responsible for signing the tie. The Spaniard took advantage of the conditions of the pitch – the ball was stuck in the rain – to release his scoring account with Al Ahli, current UAE League champion. The joy, however, did not last long on the Emirati side, since it took Pakhtakor only three minutes to get back on the scoreboard. He did it thanks to Serbian Dragan Ceran, who finished off a ball hung by Khamdanov to the heart of the area.It was like that, with the 2-1 campaigning on the scoreboard, as the match ended at Pakhtakor Markaziyy in Tashkent. Pakhtakor, which has six consecutive victories at home in the Champions League, thus became the first Group B team to achieve a victory. Shabab Al Ahli will seek to release his locker next week, when he will receive the current champion, Al Hilal, in Dubai.
Too often, marketing managers and entrepreneurs lose track of their top assets (their creativity, low brand profile and agility) when determining how to best utilize the event marketing channel. They often see the cost of hosting, participating, exhibiting and/or sponsoring national and regional industry events and user conferences, and immediately assume that the costs of these activities are prohibitively expensive. They then make the mistake of discounting the potential value of the event marketing channel in their company’s overall marketing strategy. What these managers neglect to realize is that startups feature some of the most creative and forward thinking minds around. If asked to do so, they can often come up with some clever and inexpensive event marketing tactics to help their companies take advantage of an event without actually formally participating or sponsoring it. These managers also fail to consider local event, conference and user group options. The cost of not considering or de-prioritizing these event marketing opportunities can be tremendous, as events are one of the easiest ways to initially contact a potential buyer and introduce them to your company. Here are 5 cool, but inexpensive event marketing ideas to help jump-start the brainstorming process for how your company can best utilize the event marketing channel and maximize the return on its marketing budget investments:1. Host competitions or contestsConsumers love competitions, contests and prizes. Just look at the amount of time individuals spend playing Zynga games online for valueless social currency or the increasing purchase levels at McDonald’s and Subway during their Monopoly and Scrabble promotions. Consumers also love to talk about these competitions with their friends, colleagues and families, so games offer a very viral platform to build product brand recognition and loyalty around current consumers.There are many great examples of contest marketing in the B2C space. For example, uTest, a crowd-sourcing company in the software testing space, invented a very creative way to build-up its pool of testers. Every quarter, they sponsor a bug battle on a selected website or group of websites that is open to all member of the uTest community and reward the top bug catching stories with a monetary prize. Similarly, Yahoo! hosts a free annual NCAA bracket picking contest during March Madness called the Tourney Pick’em Contest to attract new users on its Fantasy Sports platform.Although easier to construct in a B2C market place, B2B games can be extremely effective as well. What makes this tactic more difficult in a B2B market is that the user for a product or service may not be the same person as the buyer. For a B2B company, a great way to integrate a contest into its marketing strategy is to involve the companies in the product planning process by hosting a contest whereby customers are asked to submit new product feature recommendations or name a new feature or product and rewarding the top recommendations. For example, Boeing successfully hosted a product naming contest for its Boeing 7E7 aircraft in 2003 to generate some much-needed buzz around its newest aircraft carrier that had undergone extensive criticism for being selected over a much sexier and faster sonic cruiser. Similarly, B2B companies can also offer a contest whereby users are asked to submit top use cases for a product or service where the top case is rewarded with a prize. The most effective contests are usually scheduled around a major event, so that the event can help the host company draw additional buzz around the contest or competition.2. Sponsor and/or participate in meet-ups or user groupsSponsoring national and regional conferences and events is often prohibitively expensive for startup companies. Generally, sponsoring a meet-up or user group is much more affordable and can sometimes provide more bang for their buck, as many of these events will provide intimate access to potential buyers and users. Oft times you can become a sponsor of these organizations by providing meeting space, supplying food and beverages, or paying for group T-shirts. Also, meet ups and user groups are great places to meet and get-to-know industry influencers that can help you build a buzz around your product(s) and/or brand. The key to success is in identifying an event that offers your company access to potential buyers or users that are key influencers in the buying process. You can find most local meet ups or user groups on Meetup, LinkedIn, Facebook or Tumblr.3. Host an unaffiliated pre-party or after-party for an industry eventOne way your startup can get involved in an industry event without paying to be an official sponsor is to host an unaffiliated pre-party or after-party for the event. This is a great way to expose event participants to your company’s products and brands at a fraction of the cost of sponsoring or exhibiting at the show. Event organizers will generally not interrupt you as long as your party does not compete with the event schedule or promote rival products and services.4. Host a party or networking event during a competitor conferenceStartup competitors are generally prohibited from speaking at or participating in competitor user conferences. As a result, hosting parties and networking events that coincide with the timing of competitor events is a startup’s only means of interacting with event participants. This is a very aggressive marketing campaign that can be extremely rewarding, but it can also lead to reactive behavior from the larger competitor.One of OpenView’s portfolio companies, Instructure, took this risk earlier this year when it hosted a party in Las Vegas during the Blackboard annual user group conference in an attempt to introduce Blackboard users to the Canvas Learning Management System. The key to success with this tactic is finding the right means to publicize the event to ensure that it attracts as many potential buyers as possible, but also doesn’t overtly interrupt the competitor’s user group conference. This requires identifying the correct messaging that will resonate with the user persona and/or buyer persona for your product or service.5. Volunteer as an industry speakerEvent, user group, meet-up and conference organizers are always looking for qualified speakers who are active in the industry, and they love to feature a diverse mix of companies in regards to industry and development levels. This represents a great opportunity for startup company executive teams to educate buyers or users about their industry or peripheral industries and the evolution of these sectors. Doing so helps align your executive team leaders with the industry and create brand recognition for the business.Oft times these opportunities at mid-sized national or regional events are free of charge, so the real cost is in developing your presentation materials. However, these opportunities are generally reserved for serial entrepreneurs and thought leaders who have established themselves through years of content marketing (blogging, guest-posting, Q&A and forum participation, and social media), so it is imperative that your executive team sticks to a regular content marketing schedule if you hope to pursue these types of opportunities. Also, be proactive and let event organizers know that a member of your executive team is interested in speaking at one of their events.Just remember: the key to a successful event marketing campaign is to identify the correct target audience and find a place where you will have a chance to interact and build lasting relationships with current users and future buyer prospects. A few quality prospect interactions will generate higher sales returns than lots of poor quality prospect interactions almost 100% of the time. The more creative marketing event tactics tend to generate a market buzz, which will increase the number of quality prospect interaction opportunities, so it’s worth investing the time to come up with a clever event marketing tactic. If you are interested in learning more about event marketing tactics and strategies, then I highly recommend reading Inc Magazine’s article on the new rules of event marketing. Similarly, if you’d like to learn more about creative marketing strategies, I also suggest that you check out my blog post on cause marketing. Please share any clever marketing tactics that you have seen with the OpenView Blog Community in the comment section of this post.Photo by: 401(K) 2012AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis