The Results are Out! Networking versus SEO
Firstly, apologies for the delay in posting my follow-up blog. You must have thought I was inundated with new enquires as a result of the trade show. Proof that I had been proved wrong about networking? No, it’s just been incredibly busy in the office, and despite doing 10-12 hour days to keep on top of the number of live events on my desk, I’ve simply not had the time to sit down and respond to my last blog. It’s now 5.15am the day before I go on holiday and I’m up early to tick off my response from my list of jobs to do before I fly off to Biarritz for a long, May bank holiday weekend. If you’re anything like me you simply won’t be able to relax and enjoy the holiday unless all of your work is tied up, and there are no loose strings to niggle at the back of your mind.
So the networking event was good in theory. We were promised 12 guaranteed meetings and we had 19 scheduled in. So that’s not bad. The quality of the clients we met was in fairness, good. Large corporate event management agencies who represent a third of our client base. However half of the clients we met, we were already working with, and as lovely as it was to meet a very senior member (the MD, the Operations Director, the Production Director) of client X, Y, and Z, they were never going to be the actual people we worked with on a day to day basis. That would be junior employees, account managers and account executives within their company. In one meeting we met the MD of a 200-employee strong company and he sat down to talk to me, but then announced he’d just called the office and discovered they had been using us as their entertainment supplier for 5 years already. I showed him all the events we’d done over the years for his company and he said “Oh well. It’s great that we work with you already” and cut the meeting short. For me, the problem with half of the meetings was that the companies in question have hundreds of employees, and often when you work with a big company it’s hard to know what each person within your own company is actually doing, and who they are working with on a daily basis already.
The other half of the meetings were with clients we’d not worked with before, and those clients wanted to discuss specific events, but unlike the bigger agencies we already worked with they only did one or two events a year. Considering our average invoice is only £2,000, meaning the average client of ours will spend £2,000 on entertainment for their event, this meant that the potential to land a worthwhile and sizeable contract to warrant the exhibition spend was fairly unlikely.
Being out of the office for the day meant I was incredibly behind, and my workload returning to the office was double what it should be. It took at least a couple of days to catch up and be back on top of the work that I’d not had a chance to action from simply being away from my desk. Personally I can’t see that attending the exhibition was worth the financial outlay. We met 19 clients and we may get 1 or 2 enquires out of these meetings that we can directly attribute to attending, but the phone ‘rang’ 50 times in the office that day, simply because we were found on Google.
Should you network? Should you exhibit? I would say ‘yes’ if you haven’t a presence on Google, but if you have, is it worth pursuing other marketing avenues? Is speculatively outlaying on a trade show to look for clients and work the way forward? I would say not, because time is finite. There are only so many hours you can work in one day and therefore time is precious. If you’re sat in your office waiting for the phone to ring and reading the paper, or filing your nails, then jump out of your seat and network! Go and exhibit! But if you can’t keep on top of your work, your phone doesn’t stop ringing and you’ve got a strong Google presence, I would recommend you staying in the office and picking up the phone to the person who found you online, and needs to speak to you now!