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A Guide to Virtual Event Marketing: Communication Strategy


Author: Farah Mulla
Job Title: Marketing Manager

The strength and importance of a great event marketing campaign cannot be underestimated, and so we have designated a permanent slot in our newsletter to discuss all things marketing. This month we look at the importance of communication strategy in marketing your virtual event.

Communication strategy
One key question when planning your event is when you should start your communications, too soon and people may not respond and too late and diaries will be booked up. Your schedule of announcements should be consistent and frequent taking into consideration all the channels you are using.

Think about how you want to be marketed to when designing a plan, make it personal so it contributes to making the event unique rather than adding to white noise.

With so many online events, the first thing is, what is that experience going to feel like? This will be a strong differentiator, which will also make it so much easier to market the event.
Your methods can be traditional, but you can focus on the feeling, experience, touchpoints you deliver.

Video
Video is an incredibly effective tool to promote your event and can be used to promote it through several channels. Consider creating a ‘trailer’ to show what the event is about, you can use sound bites, and vox pops or testimonials from previous attendees and even get speakers and sponsors involved. Encourage all of them to talk about how much they are looking forward to the next virtual edition of your event, based on their previous live-event experience.

Podcasts
Although we’ve already touched upon this in previous parts of this guide– podcasts are a great but underused channel for promotion (you can read more on this subject here). Considered to be ‘Radio on-demand’, the current environment where people continue to work from home is perfect for podcast consumption. You can start teasing the agenda topics, giving profile to not only the speakers but also to sponsors.

Press
Use press to promote your event by building your press contacts. Find advocates for a whole industry – get to know journalists better and see what they are writing about. Find out if they are going to be interested in your message, and only then issue your press release, but think about what you are going to say, is it positive, should it be said, should it be said by me, should it be said now?

Partnerships
Media-partnerships can be a highly effective and low-cost way to promote your event. Approach relevant industry publications and seek a mutually beneficial partnership, giving them access to the event, exclusive access to speakers, if appropriate, and to content post-event in exchange for promotion pre-event.
In addition to media, reflect on other organisations that you may already have a relationship with that share a similar audience to yours. Reach out to them to offer cross-promotional opportunities, such as discounts or even speaking slots to help get your event in front of their audience.

Sponsors
As mentioned in A Guide to Virtual Event Marketing: Marketing Strategy and Community Building, sponsors can contribute to promoting and creating a ‘buzz’ about your event. You should develop a sponsor marketing toolkit containing elements such as key messaging, social posts and email footers to help promote the event. Remember, it is in their best interest to drive attendance and they may also be connected to parts of your target-audience that you are not, helping to broaden your reach.

Advertising
Although a traditional method, advertising in publications or websites can still be an effective tool for promoting your event, if budget allows. Opt for display advertising on newsletters or websites that are consumed by your target audience. Rather, than a page ad in a publication consider alternatives, such as a belly-band, or take an additional ad alongside any advertorials offered as part of your partnership package.

Social media and paid social
I touched upon this previously here, however social media should be a key component of your event marketing and comms strategy as your industry, audience, a substantial portion of your customers and leads are likely to be on social. Indeed, according to the Digital 2020: Global Digital Overview report published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, there are 3.8 billion active social media users globally. This represents 49% of the total global population and shows a 9.2% growth in the last year. So, every action, update, post, presentation, picture or video that you upload to social media will have an impact on your online marketing efforts. When a prospective attendee is evaluating whether to attend your event, they will inevitably stumble on what you presented on social media.

That said, although you might have a significant presence on social media, it may be difficult to reach your audience for free. With the right approach to paid social advertising, you can convert more of your prospective attendees to delegates. You should obviously look to use the channel where the majority of your audience is present, but in our experience LinkedIn Ads work remarkably well for leveraging event attendance for an audience that is niche.

Influencer and ambassador marketing
There is often a misconception on who counts as an influencer. An influencer is not necessarily a celebrity, but it can be someone that is well-known within your sector. Influencers can be a great way of not only promoting your event but also to help develop it.

You should create an influencer list, either to sit on an advisory board or to simply push content.

Try and get insight on your event from outside voices. Look at those mentioned by key people that you are following, that may be influencers for your audience and bring them onboard as you develop your event to sanity check and add credibility to your event. They can also share content and help you promote the event. By adding influencer marketing, you will be cutting through the noise to reach your audience.

Once you have established who the respected voices are in your community, you should start to think how you will present the event to them to encourage them to discuss it within their circles. Give them profile at the event, offer the opportunity to attend, speak and even help shape the event.

To find out more about how Outsourced Events can achieve your vision for your virtual events and help with your communication strategy, please get in touch now info@outsourcedevents.com.

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