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Greenfield Launches Webinar Series for Meetings Industry Professionals

Greenfield Services is pleased to announce the launch of a new series of 60-minute webinars designed to help hospitality & meetings executives get ready for the great shift in sales & marketing.  The first session took place on Wednesday, March 21 and was entitled, “The Great Shift: Why B2B Lead Generation is Changing & What You Need to Do About It.

We created this educational series because we felt that hotels, CVBs and other meetings industry suppliers have not kept pace with how B2B buyers are now looking to engage in new business relationships.  Sales and marketing have changed significantly over the last few years.  No longer can meeting industry marketers “throw as much as they can” and see “what sticks”.   Channels are fragmented.  Prospects’ attention spans are short.  ROI on traditional methods is dropping. 

And salespeople are complaining about the poor quality of the leads they receive. 

Whether marketing a destination, a venue or a service, smart marketers are shifting their focus from outbound, “push” strategies in favour of attracting prospects through strategic inbound lead generation methods. 

The first session covered the six key trends that are shifting the way B2B buyers engage in the sales cycle and seven recommended strategies to start implementing now to stay ahead of the curve.  Please click here to playback audio recording (synch'ed with the slides). Feel free to share as you see fit!

Our next webinar Aligning Marketing and Sales Activities for Inbound Lead Generation Success is Wednesday, April 11, 12 noon EDT.  Meetings industry professionals can register here for free.

Also check out our webinar schedule for all the other topics and dates.

Opportunity Lost: What Don’t Your Testimonials Say About You?

Testimonials Button on a Keyboard
We’ve all seen them. And lately, I’ve begun reacting to them. The website testimonials that are supposed to say everything about the products and services they recommend, but really end up saying nothing.

If you are a meetings industry supplier, your website should feature a collection of testimonials from past clients who are happy to tell the world what a great job they saw you do on your last conference or meeting. But if a testimonial lacks a basic level of social proof, it does more harm than good.

Consumer Internet investor Aileen Lee defines social proof as “the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.” Although that explanation is pretty general, the power of social proof is in the specifics:

I’ve seen too many websites with inspiring product offers, gorgeous video, and testimonials to the effect that “you guys really came through for us,” attributed to a “major software company.” Testimonial Director is a service that has templated the fine process of collecting testimonials efficiently and making sure they contain the appropriate information. (Their website is also a great example of testimonials done well.) In a special report (see bottom of their home page; sign-up required), the company identified “recommendations from people known” as the best tool for building consumer trust through advertising channels.

In an age when LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to give testimonials, it’s never been more important to get this right. When you’re asked for a referral, remember that a proper business-to-business testimonial provides just the facts—what the vendor did, and why it mattered. It refers only to your direct experience, based on qualities and behaviours you’ve observed directly, and it tells the story as fully and clearly as possible.

Some hotels, CVBs and other hospitality and meetings industry organization have told me they don’t want to name clients, for fear that competitors will go after an important source of business. Baloney, I say. If your testimonial sources are that fragile, you may not want to quote them in the first place.

Your business objective with any contract is to leave the client so thoroughly delighted that they would never think of looking elsewhere—and that’s the story you want every testimonial to tell. That’s why I love ads for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, who name and even show a picture of their clients with their testimonial!

Phone Lead Generation Advice for Meetings Industry Suppliers

AUTHOR: Tanya Rolfe, Business Development Specialist at Greenfield Services.

A bit camera-shy, Tanya only agreed to have her photo taken in disguise… We’re just glad she’s so at ease on the phone!
Like most of us; I wasn’t born with a phone to my ear. I was actually quite uncomfortable when I made my first prospecting call.

Now that I’ve been doing it for a while; I thought I would share a few of my favorite tips and best practices that helped me to find my comfort zone.  I hope they help you as much as they did me.
  1. Ask permission: Whether they are expecting your call or not people appreciate it when you understand their time is important. Ask them when a more convenient time is to have the conversation and set a reminder in your calendar. 
  2. Be prepared: Ensure you know something about your prospect’s company…look up their website to learn more about them and/or the kinds of meetings & events they plan and where. It can make for a more natural conversation. 
  3. Be more prepared: Know your stuff! There are always objections as to why a prospect may not be interested…but are they founded or assumptions? Knowing what the common objections are ahead of time and being able to address them can often help to overcome them.  
  4. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask…There are certain things we may not be comfortable asking for example; you may not like to ask about their budget or who approves contracts or even why they choose one hotel over another. Just remember; they gave you permission to speak with them and if they think it’s not your business…the worst that can happen; they won’t answer. 
  5. Active Listening: Once they have answered a question don’t ask it again. If you’re unsure of their point; ask for further explanation. Don’t just repeat the question. 
  6. Never multitask: Give the prospect your complete attention, Pencils and pens are quieter than keyboards. Jot down notes as the conversation progresses so that you can jog your memory once you’ve gotten off the phone. Even if you’re only leaving a message don’t get distracted by something else. If a smile can be heard over the phone… 
  7. Never Interrupt: When you ask a question don’t assume you know the answer. Interrupting and over-talking is not only rude but think of all the things you may not learn as a result. If you let the contact speak freely; it will often trigger their memory, perhaps about lead for another event all together.   
  8. Honesty: When you don’t have the answer…say so. Most people would rather hear, “I don’t know but I can find out and get back to you.” 
  9. Follow through: When you’ve made a promise…keep it! If you’ve offered to email or call with more information; make sure to do it in a timely fashion. 
  10. Staying in touch: If you’ve set up a phone appointment…be on time! If you aren’t able to reach them at the fixed time; leave a message apologizing for missing them and letting them know that you will try again and when. 
Remember that you’re just talking to people and try to let the conversation flow as naturally as possible. It really just boils down to polite respect.  

Why Every Hotel and CVB Should Consider Pinterest

Pinterest Logo
Recently I started dabbling with the latest social media network, Pinterest.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking: another one? Who has time for another social media network?  This is one social media network that I believe every Director of Sales and Marketing of hotels, resorts and destinations will want to make time for because of (A) its incredible rise as a traffic generator, and (B) the particular suitability for events, tourism and culinary marketing.

Pinterest is like a giant bulletin board.  Using their Twitter or Facebook login, users “pin” favourite images to their own or others’ pinboards.  A pinboard is a collection of images (a.k.a. “pins”), usually chosen around a common theme.  Users can either upload images from their own computer, enter the url of the image or use the Pint It button,  a bookmarking tool that allows users to upload images right from their web browser’s toolbar.

To learn how to set it all up quickly, download Hubspot’s guide, How to Use Pinterest for Business.
As with other social networks, the goal with Pinterest is to build awareness, drive traffic to your
website and convert visits into leads.  Let’s say for instance you are Turtle Bay Resort, a beautiful independent resort on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii.  Your destination is known for surfing and destination weddings, and you want to promote your meeting packages for groups looking for high-impact team-building activities.

Create one pinboard for each of those topics and name them: say Surf’s Up, Turtle Bay Romance, and Team Building Oahu Style.  That way you can make sure you attract followers who are passionate about each of those topics.

Next, start uploading:  shots of last week’s surfing competition, the photos your banquet manager took of Saturday’s beach-side wedding set-up and the candid of your client’s corporate group heading out onto the rope course.  Make sure the photos are clear and that you have the permission to post from anyone who could be recognizable in the picture.  Then pin away!

By logging in through Twitter or Facebook, you’ll be able to let your followers know you’ve started posting on Pinterest.  Add the Pinterest follow button to your website so that visitors can pin your website photos to their board.  Encourage your guests to take pictures of events and pin them.  You can even launch a Pinterest contest and give prizes or discounts to the best shots!

The promotion possibilities are endless.  What’s more, Pinterest users pin photos they LIKE and that make them feel good, so it’s likely to generate more positive vibes about your venue or location.

For a great discussion on applications of Pinterest for hotels, resorts, destinations and even restaurant, check out Jitendra Jain's post on the Hotel Internet Marketing Blog.

I predict that hotels and destinations that are serious about building their brand and enhancing their visual attraction to niche audiences will soon be flocking to Pinterest.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Pinterest enables you to speak volumes!