Events can be effective ways for organizations to build pipeline.  A well designed event featuring a topic that has educational interest with your target audience can draw important prospects into a dialog with you and ultimately into your pipeline.  We’ve run over 50 of them in the past year and can offer this “recipe” for a successful event.

Think of the event as “adult education”.  The more you can position your presentation topic in the context of helping your target audience learn something important, interesting and new, the more attractive your event will be.  Avoid “sales” oriented themes as most people won’t get in their car to attend one, when they know they can just call up a sales rep, or scan the web, to get a sales pitch.  Think of the difference between Toyota running a seminar entitled “Future Trends in Hybrid Technology” versus a seminar entitled “Why a Prius Should Be Your Next Car”.  The latter is clearly a sales situation and if you haven’t already decided to buy a Prius, you are likely not interested.  The former however, positioned as education, has broader appeal, offers the value of informing the customer in an area that can help him/her make better buying decisions.  Always go with the “adult education” approach.

Think about how you are compensating your attendees for giving up their time?  A strong topic will help here, but if you are unsure, consider the venue and what you are offering . Are you offering a gourmet meal, wine or microbrew tasting; or perhaps an opportunity to catch a sporting event in a luxury suite?  Alternatively, will you be bringing people to a hotel conference room and serving some stale croissants?  Your venue and what you are providing your guest-attendees will have a huge impact on attendance.  Keep in mind that in this day and age of the internet, many people won’t leave the comfy confines of their office for just a 2-hour dose of information unless there is something offered they can’t get online.

Think about speaker credibility.  People want to learn from luminaries and experts.  Make sure you select a featured speaker that has some industry credibility or at least will come across well as a subject matter expert. A well-known speaker should be promoted in your event invitation.

Don’t get too technical.  Unless your event is specifically oriented around product training, resist the temptation to get too deep into your product, solution or service.  Your high-end executive event, especially if you picked a luxury suite at a premium sports event, gives you a shot at attracting more senior level executives with some buying influence.  So think about their station and the kind of information they are interested in when you construct your event presentation.

Reach out to your audience multiple ways.  A great invitation that promotes the salient features of your event (including the venue offerings) should be emailed to your prospect list. Telemarketing will be critical to augment the email marketing and to ensure you are pursuing senior level target executives.  Ask your sales organization to canvas their prospects and promote the event on your web-site and blog.  The use of multiple communication vehicles will make a difference in ensuring success.