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Feb 08, 2006
Case Study

How to Get VIP Businesspeople to Attend an In-Person Sales Pitch Event

SUMMARY: Sure, webinars are great demand generation campaigns for the wide end of your funnel. But, when you get closer to the end, real-world seminars and gatherings can help close your most qualified prospects. Only problem -- how to pry busy (or hoity-toity) execs out of their offices to attend what amounts to a pitch event? Here's an inspirational multi-step email campaign from a business in middle America that got 25% of qualified prospects to show up at a pitch event in person last December. Hint: Keep invites exclusive but don't ever require an RSVP to attend.
CHALLENGE
"High-end realtors are very protective of their time," explains Jim McKenzie of Homes by John McKenzie. "They typically send associates to events."

But, when you're trying to sell a line of new luxury homes in the Indianapolis area, pitching to associates won't move the needle. If you can get realtors who routinely sell million dollar homes to attend a pitch-and-tour event, only then do you stand a chance.

But, just like busy and important executives across corporate America, these VIP realtors won't attend your sales pitch event unless you send them an extremely compelling invitation.

CAMPAIGN
Luckily McKenzie's marketing team had worked over the past few years to garner an opt-in list of the 408 realtors who frequently sell high-end homes in the region. Now they developed an email strategy as high-end as their brand.

Step #1. High-end landing page featuring audio

Before they launched any emails, first the team created a landing page they hoped would convert the most clicks into event attendees.

Note: The landing page did *not* require registration or an RSVP to attend the event. The team were segmenting the list so tightly and stressing "exclusivity" all over the creative, so they didn't worry much that the wrong people would show. "We didn't require an RSVP because we wanted to promote last-minute decisions as ok," notes McKenzie.

Plus, asking for but not requiring RSVPs removed any possible barrier to attending for those realtors who dislike filling out online forms or committing time up-front.

High-end sales require a personal relationship. To foster that sense of personal attention, the landing page featured a 45-second audio voiceover of the president of the company "personally" inviting them to attend.

His carefully scripted greeting was sprinkled with impressive factoids such as "the builder will be there to meet you in person" and brand/style names such as "Martha Stewart" and "Coastal Living."

As visitors listened, they could click to RSVP, download a map PDF, and/or view an accompanying Flash show featuring a few tempting snapshots of the home. (However, there was no comprehensive tour because the landing page's aim was to whet the appetite to see a home in person. No one wanted to reveal too much up-front.)

Step #2. Two invitations with a classy creative flair

The team sent a series of two emails to the list, one a few weeks out and one a few days out. (See link to samples below.) Both emails featured cursive "invitation-style" typeface and the following four response devices:

- Click button "to view your exclusive invitation"
- Click link to RSVP
- Click link "for printable map" (linked to PDF)
- Local phone number to call for further info

Worth noting: Despite this plethora of response choices, the actual copy was quite short, just one short headline, a logo, and the click links. The creative team deliberately didn't write descriptions of the home, or what would happen at the event, or "about McKenzie," etc.

They figured busy realtors probably rarely spend much time on email and the invitation would only get a few seconds of attention so why not cut to the point. Plus, the purpose of email creative was to rouse curiosity and gain clicks to the landing page. Long email copy might have lowered clicks.

Step #3. Thank you follow-up

At the event, the team offered a prize drawing as an excuse to gather business cards and learn precisely who attended. Then they sent those names a thank you follow-up email to close the loop. This time the landing page included more video of the home so realtors could show it to colleagues.



RESULTS
A stunning 25% of all invited realtors made time in their schedules to show up personally at the exclusive open house event. "This definitely will help sales activity," says McKenzie. "People who toured have gone back to their offices and brought other realtors back to show. Exposure and awareness of what we are capable of doing has been great."

The first email invitation had a 44.3% measured open rate and 26.1% click rate (as a percent of names sent to). The second had a 15.3% click rate -- showing that it's worth re-sending an invitation to busy execs. The follow-up email had a 12.8% click rate as well, an incredibly high rate for the third email in a campaign to this demographic.

Useful links related to this article:

Creative samples from McKenzie's campaign: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/cs/jmcc/study.html

MediaSauce - the interactive agency that helped McKenzie with strategy and creative for the campaign http://www.mediasauce.com

ExactTarget - the email service provider MediaSauce used to send emails for the McKenzie campaigns http://www.exacttarget.com

Homes by John McKenzie http://www.johnmckenziecollection.com

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