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Hacking The Event Guest List: Strategies To Get To Your Buyer First

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While it should seem pretty simple to contact your key prospects—especially high-level executives— and ask them to attend your dinner or session, actually getting them to said dinner or session can be more difficult. This is attributed (largely, but not entirely) to not having direct contact information for them. So, how do you navigate this challenge for your event guest list and ensure that your event stands out to your target audience?

Here’s a two-part question for you to start off:

  1. Do you know who your key prospects are?
  2. Do you have the right means to contact them?


Overcoming Executive Dinner Challenges

Getting executives to attend your dinner or event sounds easy in conception. Just invite them! How hard could it be? But when it comes to the execution, getting executives to your tables proves to be more of a feat. Without direct contact information (which you usually don’t have), this challenge makes a lot of sense. 

Often, associations and conference organizers are reluctant to share attendee lists due to privacy concerns and the fear of spamming. Which you’re grateful for when it works in your favor, but when it’s working against your business goals, it creates a tug-of-war that puts exhibitors and marketers at a disadvantage.

However, there are several tactics you can employ to overcome this barrier:

  1. Year-over-Year Data Collection: Consistently gather and compile your own data across multiple events. Building a robust contact database over time will significantly reduce your reliance on third-party lists. This will inevitably take time and may need to be updated periodically as positions change, but can help you long-term.
  2. Pre-Show Marketing: Utilize pre-show marketing to build awareness and anticipation. Engage with potential attendees through social media campaigns, email newsletters, and personalized outreach before the event.
  3. Physical Mailing Addresses: If you have mailing addresses, use them to send invitations or personalized gifts. A well-crafted, tangible invitation can make a strong impression and boost attendance rates. Plus, who doesn’t love a little non-electric mail?


Strategies for Limited Contact Information

When direct contact information is unavailable, which happens more often than we’d like, creativity and resourcefulness become your greatest allies for crafting your event guest list. Here are some effective strategies:

Leverage Event Apps: Many events now have dedicated apps that list attendees. Use these apps to identify key prospects and gather contact details in real-time.

Engage in Real-Time: As soon as the event app becomes available, begin identifying and connecting with potential attendees. The earlier you start, the better chances you have of catching their attention.

Utilize Networking Platforms: Tools like LinkedIn Navigator and ZoomInfo can help you identify and connect with executives. Spend a little prep time creating a shortlist of target companies and identifying the key decision-makers within those organizations.

Craft Personalized Invitations: When reaching out to executives, your message should be concise and compelling. Avoid generic pitches. Instead, highlight the unique value proposition of attending your event. Emailing at non-conventional hours (early morning, late evening, or weekends) can increase the likelihood of your message being seen.


Utilizing Event Apps for Quick Insights

We talked about leverage these above, but it really cannot be overstated how event-specific apps are gold mines for data. Here’s some more tips on how to make the most of them:

  1. Monitor Attendee Lists: Regularly check the app for updates on attendees. This helps you stay informed about who will be present and allows for timely engagement.
  2. Real-Time Interaction: Use the app to send direct messages to attendees. A well-timed and personalized message can create a stronger connection than a generic email blast.
  3. Collect Data Efficiently: Take advantage of the app’s features to gather contact details, session preferences, and attendees’ interests. This data can be invaluable for follow-up activities.


Tools like LinkedIn Navigator and ZoomInfo

For more in-depth research and outreach, tools like LinkedIn Navigator and ZoomInfo are essential. Here’s how you can use them effectively to hone your event guest list:

  1. Company Research: Identify target companies and create lists of potential attendees. Research their roles and responsibilities to tailor your outreach.
  2. Personalized Outreach: Use the insights gathered to craft highly personalized messages. Mention specific pain points or opportunities relevant to their industry or role.
  3. Follow-Up Strategy: Develop a follow-up plan that includes multiple touchpoints. This could involve LinkedIn messages, emails, and even phone calls if appropriate.


Crafting Effective Executive Invitations

An effective invitation can’t blend in to their traditional daily mail repertoire; it must stand out and convey the value of attending your event to be convincing. Here are some key components we think bring success:

  1. Short and Sweet: Executives have limited time. Keep your message brief and to the point.
  2. Compelling Subject Line: Your subject line should grab their attention immediately. Highlight the key benefit of attending–and make it snappy!
  3. Personalization: Address the recipient by name and reference specific interests or industry challenges they face.
  4. Clear Call to Action: Clearly state what you want the executive to do—RSVP, schedule a call, or visit a specific webpage.

(For more guidance read: The Perfect Email Formula for Event Marketers.)


The Importance of a Compelling Offering

The value proposition of your event is what will ultimately attract executives; this means that you need to know exactly what will be attractive to your audience, and ultimately convince them to accept your request for the event, or dinner, etc. Consider the following as you brainstorm how best to reach out:

  1. Exclusive Content: Offer access to exclusive content or insights that they can’t get elsewhere. This could be a keynote from a renowned industry expert or a panel discussion on emerging trends.
  2. Networking Opportunities: Highlight the opportunity to network with other high-level professionals. Executives value the chance to connect with peers and discuss common challenges.
  3. Problem-Solving Sessions: Facilitate sessions where attendees can collaborate on solving industry-specific problems. This not only adds value but also positions your brand as a thought leader.


Ready to Reach Your Buyer Before the Event?

Securing executive attendance at your events requires strategic planning, creativity, and persistence. By leveraging event apps, utilizing powerful networking tools, and crafting compelling invitations, you can overcome the challenges of limited contact information and create an irresistible value proposition.

Remember, the key to success lies in understanding your audience and consistently delivering value. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that your events are well-attended and impactful, driving meaningful engagement and business growth.

Ready to take your event marketing to the next level? Start applying these tips today and watch your event guest list fill up with high-caliber executives eager to engage with your brand.

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