In our corporate world, there is little that differentiates us with the next brand. You have to stand out and build relationships with your customers so that they develop a strong sense of trust and loyalty. This trust and loyalty doesn’t come from simply talking to them when you have something to sell them. A great way to get to know your customers personally and build that relationship is customer appreciation events.
In today’s world, corporate events at sporting venues are a dime a dozen. The decision makers you invite out to these events have either (1) been to a ton of them, thus building no memorable experience with you or (2) feel no desire to go to them and pass off the tickets to other team members that cannot help your business. The key is the experience.
You have to make that experience memorable! Don’t do the same old hum drum event. Better yet, give them the opportunity to involve a child or spouse with them at the event. Given that these events are usually after hours, you are taking away time from their families. If you offer a memorable experience coupled with the ability to have family time, you will build a relationship that will last. Why? Because it shows that you understand your customers needs and wants.
I spent nearly 20 years in the corporate space in sales and marketing. I was THAT guy – the one that always had that sporting event to invite you to. Do you know what I noticed over the years? People cared less and less. Why? Because “been there, done that” syndrome set in. The hassle of heading downtown on a weeknight outweighed going to the event. When I first started offering tickets, I would get a “YES!” enthusiastically and immediately. Over the years, that changed to “let me get back to you”.
I changed my tactic – I stopped using the typical venue for holding these events. I explored new, different and interesting activities that would peak those decision makers interests. I started to call them father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter events. My attendance went up, my loyal customer base went up and I made more money. Was it an immediate thing? No. The business built over time, but when your current customers become sales people for you, you know you are doing something right.
Do you know what another GREAT side effect what of not using the typical sporting venue? My costs reduced DRASTICALLY. The average box for a hockey game for 12 people can easily run over $3000. Then you have the cost of food and drink, easily $1500+. And that’s for 12 people! My new events were inviting 20, 30+ people, exclusive use of the event space, catered with food and cost me half as much. My employer was INCREDIBLY happy with that!
Some unique places to consider – Virtual Reality Arcades, Axe Throwing, Roller Rink and Escape Rooms are all venues that every one has heard of, but many have not yet visited. Make their first experience with you – You always remember your first time!
So for your next customer event, team building event, or holiday celebration, get your attendance up, use that time to build better and stronger relationships, and for goodness sake, try something new!