Welcome to the third post in our series of event management masterclass articles. Today I want to look at how to go about marketing your event. Making sure your event is properly promoted is about more than just attracting numbers; it’s also about getting the right people through the door. A good marketing strategy will help you achieve both.
Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that we’re not talking about using events themselves as marketing tools here (something that is usually referred to as event marketing) but rather the practice of marketing the event itself. We’ll take a closer look at event marketing in a future post.
Social media marketing isn’t new but it’s something the event industry is still, to some degree, waking up to the potential of. Many of the big social media platforms offer highly targeted advertising now and it’s well worth investing in these, whether it be a banner ad or a promotional post.
Make sure the platforms you go for are the ones your target audience frequent. You might have potentially huge audience on Twitter or Facebook but if they’re not the kind of people who will be attending your event then there’s little point investing heavily in them. You should also bear in mind that genuine industry influencers probably get inundated with requests for exposure so make it reciprocal by offering them something back in return like VIP tickets.
Social media is also a hugely effective medium for reaching out to influencers in your industry and it’s well worth putting in the time to find out who these people are and the social media platforms they frequent. If you’re putting on a business to business event, then LinkedIn should be your first port of call as it’s likely you will already have an existing network there that can be leveraged.
Finally, keep your existing followers in the loop with your event by reminding them about your event on every possible occasion. You could create a countdown to the event or even replace your banner image with your event flyer. This works on your website as well. As a rule, the more you can draw attention to your event across all your marketing channels the better. And don’t forget to create a memorable hashtag and use it as much as possible to encourage others to do the same.
Social media is a huge area in event management and I will be dedicating a separate article to it at a later date.
Email marketing is a tried and tested marketing method that is both easy and cheap to do so make sure you spend a bit of time getting it right. Tapping up your existing contact base is really a baseline when it comes to promoting your event. Not only will some of these people be aware of your company, they may well have done business with you and so are more likely than most to be interested in your event.
In terms of format, many people respond better to emails with images, as well as text, so make sure you make your emails visual as well as informative. Avoid salesy jargon, keep it informal and friendly and most of all remember to make your emails mobile friendly. Make sure you have the correct systems in place to track email opens and click throughs to assess the impact of your email marketing and following up with those people who have shown an interest.
You could even ask your most trusted contacts to help you promote your event by forwarding the email to any potentially interested parties. Be careful not to come across as spammy here by getting your wording right and thanking them in advance.
The Trade Press
With so much talk around the potential of digital channels like social media, it’s sometimes easy to forget the power and prevalence of the trade press. In many industry sectors, printed publications are widely distributed and read so getting your event in them in some form or another is one of the most effective and targeted promotional tactics in your arsenal. There are two ways of approaching this; the advertising route and the PR route.
Creating a half page or full page ad will often be costly but it’s also highly effective and you have complete control over the message. If you’re going to invest in advertising space in the trade press then it’s important you devote a significant amount of time and money to making your ad high quality and appealing as possible.
The PR approach is less reliable and more time consuming but it can be just, if not more, effective. If you do your research right and reach out to the right journalists in the right way, you could end up with some pretty amazing exposure. Marketing doesn’t stop once your event kicks off either, so remember to offer anyone you approach free VIP entry and you may end up getting coverage post event too.
Word of Mouth
The oldest marketing method of all is of course word of mouth and in the small and often highly communicative circles that exist within many industries, this can be an easy win. If you do a lot of networking then you should be dropping your event into the conversation whenever you can. Be careful not to bore people with it or come across as desperate to sell tickets, but you should definitely be putting it on people’s radar as early as possible.
Your speakers are your event’s greatest asset and will undoubtedly be one of the draws when it comes to ticket sales. As such it pays to promote your speakers and help them promote themselves. This could involve interviewing your speakers and putting it up as a podcast on your site and across your social media channels. You could also get your speakers to guest post on your website’s blog and link to their content yourself from your blog.
Be open and honest with your speakers from the start about the fact you’d like them to help raise awareness around your event (after all a captive audience of industry movers and shakers is as much in their interest as it is in yours). Encourage them to reach out to other influencers in their networks. You can make this easier for them by using social media management tools like Followerwonk to find out who those influencers are beforehand.
A sure way to encourage speaker engagement is to make it as easy as possible for them by providing regular updates and information on your event. If necessary supply your speakers with images and documentation that they could use to promote your event on their own channels. You could even set up a dedicated page for them on your site, with a full author bio and links to their content. The more tools you put at their disposal the more likely they are to take advantage of them.
Video is becoming the dominant medium on the internet with more and more of it being created every year. With platforms like Twitter and Facebook now strongly featuring video content, it pays to think about creating video content around your event. This needn’t be a high budget piece of corporate marketing. In fact, down to earth videos are far more likely to garner the kind of attention you want in this context. You could interview your speakers or create a behind the scenes video pre event and on the day to promote on social media. Statistically, video is far more likely to get shared and tends to rank better in Google, which means far more exposure for content that is relatively easy to put together.
It’s easy to think that marketing your event stops the moment your event begins. This is a fairly short-sighted attitude and doesn’t take into account the wider marketing appeal of your event and what came out of it.
One way of thinking about the marketing around your event is through tentpole marketing, in which the level of buzz builds to a highpoint on the day of the event, before dissipating gradually after your event (plotted on a graph this activity curve looks like a marquee tent pole). Thinking of your marketing in a holistic sense like this is important as it will help you set the groundwork for future events and building and promoting your brand in general.
Create an editorial calendar that links your content output to your event is the first place to start. Look for strategic opportunities to mention your upcoming event or past events in blog or social media activity. Keep in touch with your attendees by forwarding them relevant content via email. This is especially important if you’re running a yearly or bi yearly event. This doesn’t mean spamming people’s inboxes but 3-4 emails a year should be fine.
On the day of the event you should make sure you send out regular tweets and updates on social media. Also look for opportunities to create live broadcasts via platforms like Periscope, so those who could not attend your event can see what their missing and watch speeches and presentations as they happen. This won’t just provide a useful service but will help you maximise the buzz around your event on the day.
Post event you should avoid the temptation take your foot off the gas. Keeping momentum going is crucial when it comes to getting the most from your event. Monitor hashtag mentions and any other material about your event. Keep the conversation going on social media through mediums like Facebook Live Video, sharing and retweeting press coverage, engaging with and get feedback from attendees and post images and video taken from the event. You should also have your eye on your next event and start a conversation with sponsors and exhibitors on the day to secure future bookings. Finally create a summary article on your blog, talking about the highlights of the event and thanking everyone who attended and made it happen.
Putting on a professional event takes a lot of time, planning and patience but on the day, it’s the people that make an event what it is. Marketing therefore forms a fundamental pillar of the event planning framework by attracting the right people in the right numbers to your event. Get this right early on and tickets to your event will eventually sell themselves.
If you’d like to know more about event marketing and how Outsourced Events can help you create a massive buzz around your next event drop us a line for a chat on 0208 995 9495.