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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales Management'>Sales Management</a>
Marketing & Tech
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In this episode of the CPSA Social Selling and Tech show, we'll discuss howto use event apps to help you reach new prospects. Our guest this time is Rob Catalano, CEO at Worktango and Co-Founder of the InnovateWork event series. 

Listen to this episode of the CPSA Social Selling and Tech Podcast.

Read the edited transcription:

Bill Banham: Rob Catalano, welcome to the show.

Rob Catalano: Thank you for having me, appreciate it.

Bill Banham: So listeners, today Rob and I who, we've been working on some events together this year, we get a chance to kind of have a chat. About meeting tools, online tools specifically, and how they can help to grow communities and generate new relationships, which culminates in meeting in person, and having all those wonderful things that come from real relationships and ongoing dialogue. Let's jump straight in Rob.

Firstly, where do you think it starts? How and why should one start up their own meet-up groups or networking events? Particularly in terms of, are there any longer term sales benefits for doing that?

Rob Catalano: When you think about sales in general, it's people buy from people. At the end of the day, it's the relationship or conversations that happen. I think events are a good place to have prospects, or potential prospects, in a room to not sell to them, but to network. Provide them value, whether it's educating them, engaging them in other ways. So I think, and what I've seen, to be very successful in marketing and sales practices in the past, just as a marketing strategy, is they think that there is value in it, and it should be part of the strategy. Again, it's easier to buy on conversations with individuals then just do everything kind of mainly online.

Bill Banham: What are some of the potential pitfalls of promoting an event on multiple event promotion channels? Again listeners, Rob and I are talking from some very recent experience here. For example, I've been insistent upon trying to grow the meet-up group, and the other major tool that we've used for the events that we've produced is Eventbrite, but also talk about Facebook today. Rob, can you share some of the potential pitfalls of promoting on multiple channels and are there any tactics to help keep it streamlined and consistent across networks?

Rob Catalano: Yeah, I mean there's definitely a sexiness to getting the event out there on more channels, but you also, you know every time you make one change or one adjustment, you have to make it on two, three, five different platforms, right. So everything just takes a little longer. I think the idea is use these tools to make your lives easier, as opposed to making it more challenging. Everyone knows when you're running an event, there's so many moving parts and Murphy's Law. So, I think from in terms of tactics, to keep it streamlined, well one, try to limit it. Two, make sure you understand what information you're putting on there. If you can be kind of limited and then drive them to say one landing page that has more information. Then you can kind of leverage multiple tools, you don't have to make all those changes. I think it comes with pros and cons, but if it starts making your life a lot more challenging, then slow down on it and use one tool and promote that one and other channels as well.

Bill Banham: Let's talk about features, I like talking about features. So, for example, can platforms like Eventbrite, Facebook Events, and, can they be used for direct messaging campaigns? Can people also find your events or meetups organically by doing specific searches?

Rob Catalano: Yeah and I think these things are lifesavers compared to the way I, or I think a lot of people, have done in the past. Talk about direct messaging, the ability to not just have those things in there, but have them done automatically, with its reminder emails and so on. You can set that up and have it happen automatically, as you're so busy making the event actually happen. When it comes to people finding your event, you're hitting a target and a group of people that have interest, so it's actually providing people's interest. We run many events, even you and I, that people say "Where did you find us?" We saw the title, it showed up on my feed, it was part of my interest look.

I think that there's definitely a lot of things that you can benefit from, but I think what's more important is keeping everything in one place. So, when you want to direct message someone you have things sitting in Excel, and then you need to put that into your outlook program, or whatever it is. Just the amount of features, and the ability to have things happen streamlined, and happen in one place, cause we all know how easy it is to lose things when it's in multiple places, makes it a lot easier. Not only to promote it and show up in their searches, but communicate with people as well. I wish these tools were around 15-20 years ago when I was running events, that's for sure.

Bill Banham: So, there's a lot of ongoing work that goes into growing communities, which meet together, on a regular or semi-regular basis? What are some of those longer term benefits to growing brand awareness and sales from developing online communities who then come together?

Rob Catalano: Yeah, you know what, I always say people do business with people they know, like and trust. All right. So, when you're offering value to people in these communities again, you're engaging with them in different ways. Allowing them to network with others, others in person or online type communities, and you're providing them value at the end of the day. Those are the real benefits, that's where your brand becomes what they think of when it becomes time to have a buying decision. Too often we get people in a room, at these events, and then we want to sell to them right away, but they're not ready to buy. So I think it's just super valuable in terms of building that community and relationship over time, and when they're ready, you've offered so much value in their community, you've given them great education, you've engaged them in other ways, or inspired them with great content at these events as an example. Just, I think it's a key tool in the arsenal of any kind of marketing and sales strategy.

Bill Banham: Okay, so you're an event organizer. How does a chap like you manage their time when the event actually happens, because you must be getting pulled in lots of different directions? How can you get what you want to get from it, in terms of enjoying that experience?

Rob Catalano: Oh, it's not enjoyable at all. Are you kidding me. No, I'm joking. You know what, it's really just about making sure people's expectations are set in my mind. Like it's obviously, there's people around you, I've had volunteers help support things, people always want to be involved. I don't think it's actually great to just do it all yourself, you should have other partners around you. I think it's just being well planned, well organized, making sure things are done sooner than later. I have this little philosophy I do anytime we do an event, is that a week before, all my ducks need to be in a row. Everything I need, needs to be there and kind of give me that nudge on my final list, because again, you kind of need to plan in advance especially for a lot of unknowns out there.

Another thing too, to kind of keep sanity, is having plan B. What if a speaker drops out? What if a venue has an issue? What is you don't get the license for something? Like, do you have a secondary thought as opposed to not just panic, but like actually act and move forth. That usually keeps, my planning there's always a plan B in my head as well, which you know, sounds like kind of a little more challenging and a little more work, but it's just always good to have because stuff happens.

Bill Banham: I think that's the principal sound bite from this podcast. Always have a plan B. What about live streaming? So in addition to producing some events, and meetups, you also do a heck of a lot of speaking around North America and globally. Have you seen any examples of where live streaming has worked really well? Where it's created a big buzz? Can you share any examples of events that you've been to that have seen that?

Rob Catalano: Yeah. I mean, typically I find the live streaming is, to become successful as an addition or something else that's happening for a very successful event in itself, that happened without it. I mean, you know, one of the biggest ones that comes to mind is something like Dream Forest. Right, they did something where people want to be a part of, they can't all make it to San Francisco. Not because of travel plans, probably because hotels are like $1000 a night, but you choose all the reasons but they have such a following that live stream actually helps. It supports it. It gets that word out there, but they establish such a fantastic experience with people that it warranted people to want to be there. So I think it's really hard to start with live streaming. It's not that it can't be done, but it's hard to build that following and build those relationships, or those emotional ties to people when it comes to the event world, until you've actually kind of had the in life experience be great first.

Bill Banham: Okay. We're coming towards the end of this particular show. One last question for you, to leave our listeners with. What are your top two or three tips for using online event registration and promotion tools to support B2B, in your case, B2B communities?

Rob Catalano: So first thing is just know what the endgame looks like. What I mean by that is too often I see people run these events, use these tools, and then at the end they want to either communicate to people in a certain way, or look at data a certain way, what types of people or companies, or roles were at their event. Too often, it's too late. You're not either asking people the right things at the front end, or you're not getting the right information. So I find that people end up going through this effort and they don't think about the pre and post of it. That's more important. Doing the event is the easy part, it's how do you get value from the pre and post from a brand name, marketing and sales standpoint.

I think in terms of using those tools, yes they make it easy, but you still have to also give it that thought, so that's kind of the major one. In terms of any tips for using event registration, is just make it super simple and easy to get your point across. People don't have time anymore, people are looking at the stuff on their phone, on the go. You need to be very clear about the value you provide up front. What they are going to get out of the event, as opposed to just promoting everything about it. Value speaks and I think you get your value out there, that definitely helps. Now, what's interesting is the tool is not going to do that for you, kind of be thoughtful about how you position it. So the tools an enabler at the end of the day, you still have to provide the insight and feedback and content or whatever it is, to try to draw people in.

Bill Banham: Okay, so that just leaves to say Rob Catalano, thank you for being the guest today.

Rob Catalano: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me and I look forward to chatting again soon with you though.

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