February '21

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rv-pro.com February 2021 • RV PRO • 71 Bite-size segments: The more interesting and relevant content the RV business offers, the more often interested customers will attend virtual events and participate. "Consider offering segments that are no longer than an hour on helpful topics," Raithel says. "This encourages people to return to your page day after day." Incentives: Another way to drive traffic is to offer a discount or other incentive to attend, experts say. Charging a small fee for the event also can help customers remember that they signed up and planned to attend an event. Do a dry run: Whether coordinating an event in-house or using an outside party, it's critical to have a dress rehearsal or trial run with family and friends before the day of the event, says Procopio. Responsiveness: "At the end of the day, these events are all about sales," Procopio says. "I think a lot of people forget that and tend to focus on the response, but success is tied to how many high-quality leads or sales you can generate." It's important to have someone monitoring and fielding the questions. Understand the budget: When going through the stages of organizing an event, it's critical that leaders understand the cost as it relates to their budget. "Some people think – I'm just doing a Zoom room. That should be significantly cheaper than an IRL event," says Daniel, chief imaginator for The Event Nerd. "But that depends on what you want to deliver to the audience." He suggests that RV business leaders think about events they have attended, what they liked about the experience, what drew them back to those shows and why they have regular attendees. Depending on the scope and experience dealers want to create, they can expect to budget up to 75 percent of the cost of an in-person event, according to Daniel. Resourcing: RV businesses can easily jump into virtual events with a quality phone camera and a platform, but if the plans are larger or require skill set that the internal team doesn't possess, it may be a good idea to hire an outside firm, according to experts. For example, dealers can ask a company with technical expertise to walk them through a typical event timeline to gain a better understanding of the steps needed to deliver – from discovery to ideation, says Daniel. his firm provides an onboarding document to clients with the kinds of questions to ask, to facilitate further conversations. Building on Success Since wrapping its successful event in May, Windish is continuing to apply lessons learned to future events. One challenge the team continues to face is the dealerships have continued to run on only 50 percent of its sales staff, in line with Colorado COVID-19 mandates. Shaw says the team has invested in higher-quality cameras and software to improve production quality and boost the speed of the production. Windish also is looking to streamline communication with customers, given that the dealership currently must send them to the website platform to communicate virtually. "We think it's always better to have customers here, in person, so they can touch and feel the units," says Shaw. "But this has also helped us in our ability to reach even more customers who are working during the day. We're also creating some niches in or videos to give customers a little bit of the experience they will have when they're out camping." J. Damany Daniel is chief imaginator for The Event Nerd in Dallas. Madeline Raithel is a communications specialist for San Francisco-based Entire Productions.

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