How Can Event Sales Staff Can Become Idea Machines
I really like the word idea machine. It personifies how I view many components of inbound marketing. Why? Because ideas are the greatest common denominator of expectations. Selling ideas is good business. They are the ultimate product. No overhead, no need for storage, and no need for services or execution. Ideas are free to produce and inexpensive to sell. So, why are so few event marketers and event sales staff true idea machines?
In the event business, ideas are the currency that many customers use for fuel. Every event is an idea until brilliant event organizers, coordinators, managers, operations, and sales staff make it all happen. That's why it's so important to sell and market ideas to event businesses. Unfortunately, many event sales staff struggle to make this happen. Luckily, I can help you see what might be missing.
Marketing and Selling Ideas Requires An Understanding of Technology
If you take away one thing from this entire piece I hope that it is how important technology is to selling ideas. It wasn't always this way, and as you'll see, many of the concepts and principles don't really require technology; however execution in this era requires technology. Event sales staff with the greatest technological dexterity will be the most well-positioned to succeed.
"Geez, why is Tyler pushing the use and understanding of technology before he even unveils the premise of his entire article?"
Great question. I emphasize the understanding and application of technology before anything else in this piece because I believe that action is important. Corporate America has become a place that is filled with plans, consultants, reports, and reviews. Selling ideas - no matter how contradictory it may seem - requires action. And, the action required to sell ideas requires the flexibility and reach that only technology can provide
. Event sales staff most become proficient at taking action.
Always be educating (A,B...E?)
In the classic way that a sales person should "always be closing", an idea machine should always be educating their target audience. Please don't confuse this with product specs, benefits, or value-added nonsense. That isn't education. That is sales information. Event sales staff often become way too focused on stats, figures, and details, when customers really just want to know about the fun stuff. They want to know about things like what experiences will be like, and how those attending their events will feel about the event.
A true educator tries to teach their students about a subject comprehensively. An idea sales person should understand that the idea they are selling has a vast ecosystem of knowledge that is attached to it. What I mean is that an idea machine can't always just assume that the person they are selling ideas to is starting from the same platform of comprehension that they are. In fact, most people start with a bevy of different levels of comprehension.
Most event businesses ar unique; which means event sales staff have to be fundamentally sound in their understanding of how each individual business operates. There are a number of great resources available to begin these processes (this blog
for example), however each idea machine will have to find their own top resources to begin their own personal education process.
So how should someone approach the idea of education or idea marketing?
Think of it like a college education. You can take beginner courses, intermediate courses, and then advanced specialty courses on a subject. If the concept is broad enough, you may have general education before ever even selecting a major. How does this apply to idea marketing? Idea sales people know that marketing their idea to their target audience in the form of education IS selling to them. It's actually selling to them in the most powerful way possible. It's giving this audience the tools to sell themselves on a concept or idea.
Back to the college education example, idea marketers should create a library that covers all the knowledge required to fully understand and become an expert on their idea. This is how idea salesmen/women create idea advocates. This could look as simple as 101, 102, and 103 information laid out in a Word document, or be as comprehensive as having a massive library of blogs, articles, and presentations that present a full curriculum. It just depends on how big or complex the idea is to begin with. Ultimately, there is nothing more powerful than having a member of your target audience become an expert in your idea.
Be more like Larry Kim
That gentleman above is Larry Kim. He owns Wordstream
, a successful SaaS software company that specializes in tools and applications that help marketers better utilize their Google Adwords accounts.
I currently utilize the software his company makes. I became aware of Larry several years ago on Twitter. He had published several blogs that provided some interesting "how to" information on a subject I was interested in. Since that time, Larry has published tons of material on the exact topics I find the most useful, helpful, and informative (things like SEO, PPC, Web Development, and more). It wasn't long before I was following Larry on all social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, subscribed to his blog, etc.). At some point, I probably see everything he publishes. He has become so credible to me that I often reference him to colleagues as an example of someone who truly understands digital marketing.
Now, I don't want to give the impression that Larry is doing all these things by himself. I'm sure he has a marketing team that is the engine behind his powerful marketing machine, but the truth is, I don't care. Larry and his marketing team have become such a source of credible information to me that I don't really care if he is physically posting all of the content and media.
I discovered Larry 3-4 years ago. Until approximately 4 months ago, I wasn't really in any kind of position to be a real customer of his business (I wasn't responsible for an Adwords account that would really benefit from his solution). As soon as I was, I know exactly where I needed to go. This is why I believe that Larry is a shining example of a true idea machine. I have the education needed to make a decision as soon as I was ready to. In fact, I barely interacted with a salesperson during the sales cycle (which was very short).
Be there for your target audience.
Being an idea machine is not about qualifying and directly selling to your audience. It's about giving them the tools to make the decision for them self. It is a part of the open source of sales movement (something I just made up).
There are no shortcuts when you're an idea salesman/woman. Creating a library of knowledge and distributing that information is difficult. This is why I put such a heavy emphasis technology on the front end of this article.
Education happens online
The material you provide your audience and the content you deliver must be valuable and high-quality. The internet is flooded with blogs and content that is utterly worthless. People are more sensitive to this than ever. If you do a poor job educating people about your idea, you will lose your audience altogether, and may never get them back.
This is why it's important to use these outlets outside of work hours. I personally use just about every social media & content sharing platform (some more than others), but I understand each of them, and see what brands/people do the best job selling their ideas on each medium. I take mental notes on creative approaches and ideas that I'd like to duplicate. An idea machine does not view these things delivery mechanisms as delivery mechanisms, they view them as communities.
You'll notice trends in what content and media is the most helpful for different ideas.
For example, interactive tools and extremely short videos or GIF's have become staples of some of the best material out their; however I still see the majority of marketers and sales people publishing texty, short, content pieces. This is a reflection of how few regularly invest time in understanding how people become educated around ideas online.
Traits of the best idea marketers
The best idea machines are educators. They view themselves as THE leading expert on their idea. They build strong education platforms, and understand all the different communities and distribution centers their information can go. They are technically savvy and use technology in their personal lives. These things combine to make someone who truly understands how people gather and process information today. This understanding is what makes a true idea salesman/woman. I expect to see more and more of these individuals popping up in 2016