February '21

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70 • RV PRO • February 2021 rv-pro.com "A lot of companies get stuck at Step 1, which is – do you have your customers' con- tact information? Is your database cleaned and refreshed? Do you have the ability to reach out to them via text or email?" says Procopio. "Usually, the answer is no." Having a website with a CRM system tied in and a tech stack of ready platforms and resources can be helpful in mapping out the outreach process from beginning to end with follow through to ensure attendance and participation. "What we often see is clients create a postcard for their event, and then things fall apart when the person responds," she says. "There is no information given for a contact person they can call, no confirmation email is sent. That's why it's so important to take a step back and look at the entire customer journey." A tech stack such as Eventbrite and HubSpot – which Thrive Mar- keting Science leverages for many events it supports – ties the elements of event marketing and follow-through together. HubSpot offers a CRM platform for increasing leads and streamlining customer service, and EventBrite provides a self-service event ticketing platform. "I think if you haven't been focused on digital marketing, it can take a long time to get a virtual event off the ground – three to six months," says Procopio, whose team has worked with several RV industry clients, including Johnnie Walker RV, Giant RV and several others. "If you outsource those services, you can get up and running much faster – one to three weeks." For Windish RV's May Virtual Open House event, Shaw says his team leveraged the dealership's strong Facebook following to drive traffic. The dealership also placed TV spots in the local market for the week leading up to the open house. Windish RV's marketing efforts brought an average of 21 viewers per hour, with viewers watching roughly five to 10 minutes of the livestream per session. Best Practices Event experts offer the following best practice strategies to holding a successful virtual event: Email marketing: "The best way to get people to view your live streams or virtual event is to market it through email," says Raithel, the communications specialist with San Francisco-based Entire Produc- tions. "Email promotion has been shown to generate over a 16 percent increase in click-through rates. People are going to their emails to find out what brands are doing to stay current with the times." Likewise, she suggests holding on to any email address a customer has ever provided, so RV businesses can continue to build awareness and brand loyalty. Procopio suggests never deleting any customer records or data from the database. Social media promotion: Maintaining a rich social media presence also is critical, given that customers routinely go to social media to watch videos and watch the businesses they follow go live. Manufacturer rep firm Derema Group promoted several RV and marine products the company represents during its virtual event, hosted in a studio setting. Sara Procopio is the president of Newport Beach, Calif.- based Thrive Marketing Science. "We believe hybrid events are going to be the new norm for trade shows and walk- throughs. Hybrid events provide a little more engagement for the people viewing them." - Madeline Raithel with Entire Productions

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