Getting customers excited about your brand can be tricky. But getting approval for an event marketing program from corporate decision makers and budget gatekeepers can be even harder.
“The greatest challenge [to selling internally] is communicating the power of events ” says Rebecca Leonard manager-event marketing at TJX Cos. home to retail chains Marshalls and TJ Maxx. “It’s very difficult to communicate that power unless you can [get decision makers to] actually see it and feel it.”
Savvy event marketers know that it’s next to impossible to get corporate colleagues pumped up using a PowerPoint. Three tips for getting your event program greenlit and out the door.
1. Make the Connection. One key to presenting a program internally is to hit the emotional cues but move quickly to the business case.
For example when ConAgra Foods’ Rotel brand was seeing eroding sales in Texas event marketers in the company saw the opportunity to make a connection by sponsoring the annual football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. Even the regional excitement the high-profile event generates was on its own not enough to sway high-level marketers internally.
The solution? “We quickly connected the passion to the business ” says Mike Hargrave vp-strategic alliances for ConAgra Foods. “We presented a sampling program and the importance of trial and how it would translate to sales and we eventually received support from management.”
Three years later the Texas-Oklahoma game is known as the Rotel Rivalry. ConAgra supports it with activities in eight markets and Hargrave says the brand is now “very healthy.”
2. Forget Your Own Problems. Much of the success of your program will be based on the execution of the logistics. But when it comes to the internal pitch forget about that.
“I might be thinking about how I’m going to staff the event what the locations will be and what the creative is ” Leonard says. “But I wouldn’t talk about that for more than two seconds when I’m [making a proposal to executives].”
Put another way: Ask not what your company can do for you. Focus on what you can do for your company. “Present it in terms of what your audience needs ” Leonard says. “At the vp level or above they don’t care what it looks like as long as it moves the business.”
3. Make Renewals Simple. Even for programs with a one- or two-year track record it can be difficult to convince the cmo that it’s time to ramp things up. As long as you keep speaking the language Leonard says you should get what you need. “I keep it in straight business terms ” Leonard says. “For example ‘At this investment level we did this for the business. But if we invest more we can do more.’”
And if it’s time to give your program a facelift or a total makeover? Make sure you have the data to prove an overhaul will pay dividends for the brand. ConAgra’s Banquet brand has a longstanding tie to the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR team. Based on consumer research that showed that families at home often make the races a mealtime tradition the brand recast the program for ’07 as a web-based promotion featuring sweepstakes and race night party planning tips for families.
Having the consumer research on hand was integral in getting the green light for Banquet Family Race Nights Hargrave says.