Marketing events isn’t always easy. You need to work out who might be interested in attending, find their contact details, target them with advertising, and create the infrastructure to purchase tickets and confirm attendees.
All of these stages take careful planning to get them right. If you let your guard slip, it’s easy to end up with a hall full of exhibitors but no one there to visit them. But that’s not going to happen to you. Here’s how to ensure that your next event secures the attendance it deserves.
Research Your Target Audience
This is the first thing any event marketer needs to do, whether they are organizing a trade fair for social media marketers, furniture makers, or sports physiotherapists. You need to find out what kind of people are going to attend before you can even think about reaching them via marketing material.
Think about what sets your audience apart. How old are they? Are they predominantly men or women? What kind of income or occupations do they have? More fundamentally, ask yourself how they might find out about your event and why they would decide to attend.
Build an App Infrastructure to Stage Your Event
Having the right technology in place is a vital part of event marketing, and it should be arranged as soon as possible. There are plenty of apps that make the process much, much easier for you and your team, and the sooner you get them online, the better.
For example, Trello is an excellent, accessible task organizer. Prowly allows you to create “brand journals” that collates content from your social media channels for attendees to read and enables you to produce professional brochures to distribute on the day. Eventbrite is another essential, making the process of selling tickets and processing payments much easier.
With this software infrastructure in place, you can press on with the task of selling your event. Don’t leave anything to the last moment. Get it all online and ready to use from the first weeks of your event marketing campaign.
Blitz Publications Associated with Your Audience
When you’ve got a fair idea who is coming, it’s time to work all of your marketing channels to let them know who you are and what your event has to offer. The first places to contact are any publications that your audience regularly reads. For example, if you are dealing with vintage cars, there’s a vibrant trade press dealing with that sector, but upmarket lifestyle magazines are also applicable.
Contact relevant media outlets and try to negotiate space to advertise. They will be keen to work with any serious event organizers, and may sign up to cover the event as a result, so try to contact as many major publications as you can (both online and offline).
Create Tailored Advertising
Next, come up with advertising that focuses like a laser beam on what motivates your audience. You need to implant the idea that your event is unmissable. It has to enhance their experience and deliver a service that is worth traveling for. Stress any USPs like superstar speakers or planned product launches. Anything that sets your event apart needs to be foregrounded.
After that, work every marketing channel you have at your fingertips. That could be arranging a series of email updates, run of site banners on relevant sites, Facebook ads, and regular social media posts. Make the nature, time and location of your event completely clear, and the buzz will steadily rise.
Link Up with Key Influencers to Build Your Event
If you are staging an industry event, you’ll probably already be recruiting speakers and exhibitors. As you do so, try to recruit them as marketing influencers as well. Influencers are experts with broad social media connections and authority in their field. With them on board, you can attract a higher quality audience and promote your event much more easily.
It’s fine to offer more prominent speaking slots for people who will go the extra mile for your event. If influencers are happy to blog about your event, don’t let their efforts go unrewarded. Give them something in return that goes beyond liking their post or leaving a comment (although do both of those things too).
Ensure Media Outlets are On Board when the Event Arrives
From an early date, you should start planning to have as many journalists and bloggers present at your event as possible. This will be your promotional army, turning a lifeless hall of people into a social media event that will live on and build your reputation well after the stalls are packed away.
Contact local media outlets to build a local buzz, along with regional newspapers. Don’t neglect major commentary sites like Huffington Post or Tech Crunch either. These sites will often have guest contributors based near your event and will be keen to provide some coverage.
Have some stories for journalists to use when they arrive, making their jobs as easy as possible. If you have unique exhibitors, produce press releases that tell their story. If a star speaker is about to reveal something special, inform the media so they are there to witness it.
Make it Easy for Attendees to Share Their Experiences
Social media is definitely a key ally for event organizers. On the day of the event, major social media platforms should be leveraged to create as much attention and traffic as possible.
One great way to do so is by using (and promoting) Snapchat geofilters. These unique filters allow Snapchat users to create branded videos from the event venue. They are a fun, creative way for attendees and exhibitors to tell their followers what’s going on and they help to create a uniform, recognizable brand for the event itself.
Snapchat is also a great platform for running contests during your event. These contests are an effective way to build atmosphere and enhance the experience of attendees, and they take very little effort to organize.
Attend to Your Exhibitors’ Needs During the Event
Another thing to think about is how the exhibitors at your event are promoting themselves. Obviously, you can’t have total control over what they tweet or post on their Facebook wall. However, you can offer them help with social media and provide things like gifs, infographics, free blog postings, and videos to post.
The key thing is to direct people at the event to post about the event itself, not just their own experiences. This isn’t always easy. You probably won’t have the resources to talk to every stall manager about your content strategy, but by providing guidelines and assisting exhibitors, you can give them an incentive to think on a larger canvas than just their own stand.
Create an Event to Remember
Some events will have different social media strategies. A video gaming event might focus on Twitch and YouTube, while an app development conference will tend to center around Twitter. However, the marketing strategy that underlies the events will have plenty in common.
Whatever your event entails, similar marketing rules apply. Plan from an early stage, research your audience, source the right apps and software, have a slick media strategy, and cover every angle on the day of the event.
If you follow these guidelines, the results will be a high level of media engagement, strong attendance numbers, happy exhibitors, plenty of social media engagement on the day, and a boost to your event marketing brand that lasts well after the event closes.