4 Key Steps to Hosting A Successful Lunch and Learn Event

Written by Kaitlyn Langer, Axcient Community Marketing Manager

This past week, I have had the pleasure of participating in the IT Nation Evolve EMEA (formerly HTG) meetings in London. Part of Evolve’s new programming includes Content Matching sessions, which pairs SME’s from vendors with groups who are looking for expertise in those subjects. While in London, I had the opportunity to meet with three different groups and talk marketing – specifically the benefits of hosting a lunch and learn event for lead generation and how to execute on those events.

During my tenure at Axcient, I’ve executed over 1000 lunch and learns, which is a testament to how strongly Axcient relies on lunch and learns as an important marketing tactic. Through all that event management, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to execute a top-notch lunch and learn program.

Here are four important steps to follow to make your lunch and learn lead gen event a success:

  1. Educational Content
    Business decision makers are hungry for news, information, and insights to help them grow, cut costs, and improve profitability. All B2B marketing initiatives must start with excellent content, which taps into the pain points of your target audience. Think about the challenges your current clients face and craft your lunch topics around these relevant pain points. You can even bring in guest speakers and subject matter experts to further enrich the content of your lunch program. Several partners I have worked with recruited local FBI officers to speak about cybersecurity at their luncheons. Free lunch is a commodity. Free education is priceless.
  2. Killer Venue and Delicious Food
    This is the biggest mistake I see MSP business owners make when they plan their lunch and learn events. Many MSPs will cater sandwiches and host the event in their office conference room. While this may be a more budget friendly option, I believe that you shouldn’t skimp on the food and restaurant venue. By picking top of the line locations, you show your prospects that you have the budget, clout, and experience to pull off a class-A event. Prospects will find it easier to no-show for sandwiches but will be enticed to follow through for a steak lunch. Your increased show-up rate will pay for the small additional cost per head of hosting your event at a top restaurant venue.
  3. Professional Logistics
    All of your marketing before an event will shape the perception of your event and will affect your show-up rate. I encourage our partners to take advantage of Eventbrite– a free, online event management tool. This tool makes it easy to create professional looking registration pages, customize qualifying information you’d like to capture through the registration process and seamlessly manage the event behind the scenes. Your high level of organization will chase away the tire kickers and give the impression that you have the expertise to pull of a top-notch event.
  4. Follow-Up Plan
    The economics of lunch and learns work, which is what makes it an enticing marketing strategy. You should have a full-proof plan on how to follow-up with the leads after the event. Will your sales associate make follow-up calls, or will you? Determine your next steps so that the results of your lunch and event are not lost.

As with any event planning, practice makes perfect. If your first lunch and learn isn’t a success, make some notes about what can go differently and try again. Repetition is key. Happy marketing!