Over the years, I have planned and/or participated in lots of dealer- or distributor-hosted educational events for contractors. My experience at these events has revealed that many dealers can improve their return on investment by taking advantage of even just one of several key considerations. Stack them together and I’m confident you’ll see improved and measurable results.
Identify the goals
for your event
If you and your staff are clear on your purpose, how you go forward with other event related considerations and details will become much easier to decide. For example if your goal is to attract new customers you will need to strategically decide how you will market the event and what topic or topics you will offer to entice them. On the other hand your approach will likely be significantly different if your purpose is to help existing customers discover and become inspired about planned growth opportunities for their businesses. To market this event you will want to be selective about the caliber of contractor you invite and may want to have your sales rep select them, be the one to personally invite them, and get their firm commitment to attend.
Don’t skimp on
Getting “contractors” or ‘Jobbers” to take time away from the job site for education can be difficult. Most see it as just costing them money or even as a waste of time. On the other hand, getting commitment from “construction business owners” is much easier because they probably have already experienced how attending educational events can be a valuable investment of their time. Bottom line, regardless of your target attendee, you have to offer them persuasive reasons to attend. Creative titles for sessions is one example (see examples below). Also, seek out well-known and engaging speakers with “in the trenches” experience. Consider offer continuing education credits as well as business forms or worksheets attendees can put to use right away.
Also consider remarketing the event after the event is over. This can help those who didn’t make it regret they missed it and remind attendees of the value you provided for them. Ways to remarket can include; an event summary or well taken notes, resending the handouts, photos from the event, testimonials from attendees and or a short video showing some highlights of the event. Keep in mind that all these remarketing tactics can be recycled on your web site and to help promote a next event!
Choose topics wisely
Although creative event and session titles can help you secure attendees, make sure the actual content presented at contractor events delivers on what your target attendees will value and or expected. I have found there is a big difference between what contractors may want for topics and what topics they really need to learn about to help them and their businesses. If possible, a longer event that mixes both can help you get them there—and help their businesses as well.
I also recommend you consider topics that will be mutually beneficial; they help the sponsor(s) as well as the attendees. If you help a business owner grow his or her business they will likely need to buy more product, hopefully from you. If you help them understand the principles of cash flow and developing project payment schedules that finance the job, they will be more likely to be able to pay you and pay you on time. On the other hand, offering trade skills training makes sense for field staff, but probably isn’t the kind of training that will help the business owner sell more jobs and therefore buy more dollars of products from you.
One simple way to look at maximizing your events is to begin with the end in mind. If you think about and know why you are offering the event, its true purpose, other decisions will tend to become more obvious.
Examples of Mutually Beneficial Topics
- Understanding and Creating Good Cash Flow
- Writing Payment Schedules That Help You Get Paid and Paid on Time!
- How To Make More Money Doing Less Work
- How To Differentiate Your Business By Co-Branding
- Targeting The Right Customers and Project Types For Your Business
- How To Find and Hire The Right Employees
- How and Why Contractors Can Sell and Sell More in This New Economy
- Helping Customers Find You and Buy from You Using Blogging and Social Media
- Assessing the True Condition of Your Remodeling Business
- Low-Cost and Effective Jobsite Marketing