Marketing a Successful Event
How do we even start to market this event?
Ok, so you’ve decided to create an event to showcase your business, brand, products, outstanding growth, or whatever grand idea brought you to this point. You’ve spent the last two months securing the perfect venue, lining up the best speakers, convincing corporate sponsors to pitch in on the price tag, and mapping out a dynamic event agenda. Everything is in place. This is going to be a massive success, right?
Sure it will, if you can now just find the right way to market it. This isn’t Field of Dreams, where you simply build it and the people come. No, this is your first foray into the world of event marketing, and you NEED potential attendees to get excited about coming through the entrance. You need to sell tickets, or get sign-ups, RSVP’s, and hopefully gain some traction in the word-of-mouth game.
The hard work of creating a successful event doesn’t end when you’ve signed the contracts, contacted the vendors, or scheduled the final day’s curriculum. It ends when you’ve finished evaluating the results after the event. At RSA, we know a thing or three about event marketing, and offer you this step by step guide to follow to ensure success is achieved.
Step 1: Design and Create an Event Website
Your website is one of the most important pieces of the marketing puzzle. This is the place where most of your potential attendees will become actual attendees. Take your time, and keep in mind the user experience. Make it easy for visitors to find all the relevant information, registrations, schedule of events, etc. Visually appealing, yet user friendly is the goal.
When developing the aesthetic of your event website, make sure to let your event brand shine. Using consistent colors and fonts on all pages will unify the brand and keep the event memorable in the minds of website visitors.
Step 2: Launch a Social Media Campaign
Social media platforms are extremely useful for, well, everything. Utilize both paid and organic resources on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin. Create a dedicated event page, and get to work.
We’ll talk more about content in just a moment, but it’s important to know that while organic reach can be achieved on social, paid campaigns will drive your event over the top. Specifying your target demographic, serving different types of ads, and constantly optimizing your reach and conversions are key to sustaining a successful paid social campaign. It takes work, but the end results will be worth it.
Step 3: Create a Content Strategy
You want people to get excited about your event, and build anticipation leading up to it. This can be achieved by creating a content marketing strategy that draws people in, and hopefully encourages them to share their enthusiasm with others across their own social channels.
Episodic content that focuses on a “behind-the-scenes” aspect of the event can be an effective way to develop considerable excitement. Offer people a more authentic, personal look inside the upcoming event by having relevant sponsors, speakers, organizers, or ambassadors speak directly to them. Utilize the power of video to create short clips of content that gets people excited and engaged. Think outside the box when it comes to content, and know that you don’t necessarily need the high production, polished look to achieve the results you’re looking for.
Step 4: Create an Email Campaign that Captures, Convinces, and Converts.
Similar to a content strategy, creating an email marketing strategy that involves sending several emails over a period of time is an effective way to keep the audience engaged.
The idea of an email campaign is to gradually nudge the recipient towards the desired action (i.e. registering for the event) through a series of emails. The timing of each message should be spread out so as to not flood the recipient’s inbox and create an unpleasant experience. You don’t want any of your emails to be flagged as spam.
Keep the content relevant to the people you’re sending the email to. Create different segments in your email lists if necessary, to ensure you’re speaking in the right tone to the right crowd.
Step 5: Be Clear About the Value of the Event
What’s in it for me? This is the singular question we, as marketers, are always working towards answering for our prospects.
Attendees should be able to understand exactly what they will be receiving as a result of attending the event. Not being able to clearly communicate the value proposition through your marketing efforts will lead to poor attendance, and ultimately, cost you money in the end.
People want to know what they stand to gain in exchange for their time, money, or effort. Make it very clear to them that you have something great to offer, and give them a reason to get excited.
Step 6: Let Your Attendees do the Work
Not literally, of course, but yes, get them excited enough to become involved by becoming advocates.
Remember that event promotion does not only have to be from the organizer’s side. Attendees can also advocate on your behalf by encouraging their networks to register for the event. This can happen as a result of genuine enthusiasm from attendees but creating an incentive to share the event is also an effective solution.
Perhaps it would be beneficial to you and your organization to reward people for their efforts, by offering discounted tickets or pre-event perks for their advocacy. Provide shareable links for them to use on their own social media, and watch the organic reach grow.
This incentivized way of sharing your event organically through your attendees’ social networks easily turns your attendees into event advocates.
Step 7: Co-Marketing with Sponsors
Just as attendees can take part in the event marketing plan, sponsors can also collaborate to create co-marketing strategies. Sponsors also have a strong incentive to have a high number of attendees as that will mean a larger audience for their own onsite marketing goals. Be creative and proactive in creating co-marketing strategies that serve both you and your sponsors’ interests. A simple way to do this is to include sponsors’ logos and brand colors on marketing collateral.
When all involved in the event work together to promote the event, all will share in the success of the event.
Step 8: Measure Your Success by Defining Specific KPI’s
Before the event even begins, it’s important to have a clearly defined goal that you must reach in order to be able to call your event a success. What are you hoping to accomplish? What does it take for you and your team to look back and say, “That was outstanding, let’s do it again”?
How many times is your event website being shared on social? What is the click-through rate for keyword biddings on AdWords? Establishing KPIs is essential to understanding the performance level of each campaign.
The ultimate KPI that any event marketer wants to measure is the total number of event registrations. More specifically, they want to know which channels are leading to the most completed registrations.
This knowledge will help build upon the success you’ve seen with your event, and be tremendous insight for future events. Evaluate all your efforts and be honest with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your campaign.
That all sounds pretty easy, right?
Sure, it is.
The success of an event campaign will be determined by many factors. Take the time, take the proper steps, plan accordingly, and plan for obstacles. If it all seems a bit overwhelming, we have a team at Robert Sharp and Associates that is ready to help with every aspect, from website creation, to graphic design, to social media marketing and more.