When it comes to events, many small business owners and sales reps struggle with the same challenge: Getting prospects and customers to attend.
Yet, in-person or virtual event participation is often a critical component of networking, building relationships, and offering value to prospects ahead of a sale.
Now, imagine a world in which you can offer all interested participants a ride to your latest store opening or conference, and only pay for the ride if they actually attend.
Here, I spoke with Bryan Kelley, Marketing Director for Uber for Business, to uncover how small business owners and sales reps can leverage vouchers from Uber for Business to increase event participation. Plus, hear his tips on how to motivate your prospects to want to attend, in the first place.
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How to use vouchers from Uber to increase participation at your next event.
Other ways your business can get the most out of vouchers.
Bryan Kelley's three tips for motivating your prospects and customers to attend your events.
How to Leverage Vouchers from Uber for Your Next Event
1. Offer free rides or meals to event attendees — and set parameters around how vouchers will be used.
Vouchers are a proven, powerful tool for increasing event participation.
For starters, I asked Kelley how he'd suggest business owners and sales reps leverage vouchers.
He told me, "One of the best aspects about vouchers is it's a very flexible product. We see strong usage from both sales and marketing professionals, as well as HR professionals and team members. The key is that it's a way for anybody to distribute voucher credit — for a ride with Uber or a meal with Uber Eats — to a team member, prospect, or existing customer."
He adds, "One of the primary use cases is for event purposes. If I'm concerned about in-person event participation, I can give a voucher to participants, and that can allow them to take a ride to my event without worrying about the cost or hassle of driving and finding parking. If I'm doing a virtual event, I can offer a voucher that covers the cost of a meal that a participant might want to order during the event. And, if I'm doing a hybrid event, it can be used in either direction."
Kelley points out a key benefit that distinguishes vouchers from regular gift cards: Namely, your sales team can set parameters around how it will be used. For instance, you can offer a voucher to someone and say it's only valid if they take a ride to the location where your event is being held. This discourages people from taking advantage of free money and using your credit for personal reasons, instead.
For instance, let's say you're a small business owner and you're hosting a grand store opening in a particular city. You might send an email to your top fifty customers and say, "I've dropped thirty dollars into your account, which is only valid if you take a ride to my grand opening between the hours of nine and six p.m. Looking forward to seeing you there!"
Kelley told me, "Vouchers is a way to drive very specific actions on behalf of the users. And it's a powerful, cost-savings tool because it prevents the leakage you might expect if you just sent a $30 gift card to fifty customers."
2. Make it as easy as possible for attendees to get to your event.
When you're messaging to your prospects about your upcoming event, you'll want to start with the value they'll derive from your event. But the voucher, as Kelley puts it, can be used as the "kicker" to remove any roadblocks that could prevent your prospects from attending.
The cost and convenience of certain modes of transportation are valid reasons to be hesitant about attending a business event. Sending along a voucher removes any hesitation a prospect might have in terms of transportation cost.
Plus, it shows your prospects and customers that you value their participation. In short, it's an easy way to demonstrate to your prospects that you're considerate of their time and money.
Other Potential Voucher Use Cases
There are a few other ways you can use vouchers for your business apart from events. These include:
- In HR and recruiting, you can use vouchers to pay for a candidate's ride to and from an interview, or send them a voucher for a meal delivery with Uber Eats as a thank you for their time.
- In marketing, you can send free meals or rides to participants of a focus group, webinar, or winners of a social media giveaway.
- Internally, your leadership can plan off-sites or culture-building activities and send vouchers to employees for added convenience.
- Vouchers are helpful if you need to order a ride for a customer rather than offering shuttle services. This is particularly useful for auto-dealers or businesses in the hospitality space, like hotels and airlines.
There are other Uber for Business tools that can help SMBs, as well — including offering options for a commuter benefit program (which allows you full control over when and how your employees use your company's Uber account, and handles expenses automatically so you don't have to) and advanced sustainability reporting (which enables you to track carbon emissions data, report on the percentage of corporate low-emission travel trips taken, and help companies take action to reduce their carbon footprint).
However, even when you offer a voucher to attend your event, you still need to motivate prospects to want to attend in the first place. Let's dive into Kelley's tips on that, next.
How to Motivate Your Prospects and Customers to Attend Your Next Event, According to Uber for Business' Marketing Director
1. Offer the prospect something unique.
Nowadays, your prospects' inboxes are full of requests: "Come to this launch", "Check out this webinar", "Sign up for this conference". After a while, it's likely easier to tune them all out than respond or consider each one.
So it's critical you're able to breakthrough the noise by focusing the value on the prospect … not your business.
How? As Kelley told me, "You need to find something that is truly unique that you can offer to the prospect. Maybe it's a special dinner you host just for your VIP customers. Or perhaps it's access to your executive team. Anything that takes it beyond the transactional relationship."
Fortunately, these value-adds don't have to cost money. They just need to demonstrate to your prospects and customers that you know they're busy, and you're focused on ensuring they get unique, standalone value from your event even if they don't immediately purchase your product or service.
Rather than focusing on sales, consider how you might re-think your event goals to include relationship building, networking, and increasing brand awareness. Your prospects can sniff out if your event's sole purpose is to increase sales, so it's vital you shift your efforts to an inbound perspective: Offer value first.
2. Write event messaging that focuses on a specific challenge your event can solve.
When it comes to sending messages to prospects and customers, you'll want to ensure your messaging focuses on your prospects and customers' pain points, and how your event can uniquely solve for those challenges.
Kelley says, "The key in any event messaging is to focus on the value that the event attendee will be getting — so it's important to hone in on the specific problem that you know can be addressed by this person attending your event."
For instance, perhaps you work in the hospitality industry and you send an email to prospects that highlights some of the challenges specific to hospitality in 2022, followed by the value proposition: "Our event will bring together business owners across the hospitality industry so we can discuss best practices and innovative solutions to drive your strategy forward."
3. Build-in opportunities for community and connection.
Ultimately, prospects and customers don't want to attend events to be sold to — they want to attend for the chance to hear new ideas, meet new people, and make connections.
As Kelley told me, "The event is less about, 'Hey, why don't you come to this event so I can tell you why my product is going to be good for your business.' Instead, it should be something along the lines of, 'Come to this event where we'll host a round-table with people in your industry who are discussing their challenges, and how they're addressing them.'"
He continues, "You're getting folks together from the community, and your product might come up as a solution … but it might not. That type of engagement helps make the event feel less transactional. It's more about building a relationship and bringing people together — and I think that can be a pretty compelling message."
Creating a valuable, solutions-driven event is critical for increasing participation. And once prospects and customers gain value from that event — even if it's not tied directly to your products and services — they'll be more likely to ask, What else can this company offer me?
Ultimately, vouchers from Uber for Business can help your sales team take additional measures to increase both in-person and virtual participation in upcoming events.
Whether you use vouchers or not, you'll want to continue to brainstorm unique and surprising value-adds for prospects to increase participation in 2023 and beyond.
You know what matters most to your prospects. Keeping their perspective top-of-mind is critical for implementing a strong event strategy.
For more information on how your business can start using vouchers from Uber for Business, click here.