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Creating buzz and excitement around your events is so important as it makes it easier to convince people why they should attend in the first place. As well as encouraging them to sign up, successful event promotion can also drive people to share their experiences more and come back year after year.
Whether you’re looking for some fresh new ideas or want to go back to basics, have a look at our list of popular marketing activities that engage people and convince them to come to an event:
1) Create Exclusive Content
Content is so important – specifically exclusive content that is not available anywhere else. The content can take any form: such as blogs, podcasts or videos. But the key point is that this is new content. It is not recycled content.
You can create interest around your event by developing sneak previews of what will be on offer. For example, let’s say that your key speaker for a medical event is an expert in Toxicology. She has written many books on the subject. Her previous talks are available on YouTube and she has presented several webinars. Many potential attendees may already be aware of her work.
What you need to do is to offer people a sneak preview of what she will talk about that is new. Promoting the fact that she will be a speaker will generate some interest but with exclusive content you can really ignite potential attendees and increase their anticipation.
Related reading: 3 Content Marketing Tips for Event Planners
2) Harness the Power of Video
Video is a great tool for marketing events. It gives your attendees the opportunity to learn more about your event and does a good job of conveying the personality of your organisation. It also is a lot more engaging than text. Forrester Research claims that a minute of video can be equivalent to 1.8 million words. That is the equivalent of 3,600 typical web pages!
Mini videos can be extremely useful to aid your marketing efforts. You could create a number of mini 30-second video clips and release them as part of your campaign over a period of time, building interest in your event.
As well as previewing what is to come, you could use testimonials as part of your awareness raising. You could also get a few people to talk about why they are coming to your event.
The opportunity to use videos and tell the story of your event before it’s happened is enormous as long as you keep in mind the benefit to your viewer of attending. For more ideas, check out this article that lists a number of ways you can use video when promoting events.
3) Use Partners and PR
Events as you know, are not produced in a bubble. There can be any number of partners involved helping to bring your event to life. Just think of possible partners that could help with broadening the reach of your marketing. Partner up with the host venue, host destination, sponsors, an association(s) or speakers and discover ways in which you can work together.
For example, when working with a speaker you could ask them to produce a blog post or a mini video clip for you. It doesn’t have to be about the content they will deliver at your event. It could be on a separate subject, but it will provide potential attendees with a glimpse of the speaker.
You could provide partners with some pre-written social media messages, including registration pages and maybe a discount code to share with their followers or members. Promote your partners and tag them on social media channels.
If you can also obtain coverage in their newsletters or LinkedIn group(s) that would also help. It’s all about spreading the message far and wide. Don’t forget to use PR where you can. You or your partner(s) may have an agency that can help with media interviews, show previews and by-lined articles.
4) Engage Influencers and Use Word of Mouth
People are basically social. We rely on our circle of family and friends for support and assistance. We tend to trust people we admire and often model our behaviour after theirs. This fact along with the explosion of the internet and social media has led to the rise of digital influencers and influencer marketing.
Traditionally, an influencer could be anyone from an A-list celebrity to a subject matter expert. The only criterion being that they must have a substantial following on some type of online platform.
But, let’s change our thinking from seeing the ideal influencer as someone who has an impressive number of followers, to someone who might have a smaller but more relevant following. You can use micro influencers who are immersed with your target audience. They are extremely valuable and often have highly engaged followers.
As well as using influencers, you can use of word of mouth as another technique to boost attendance. Encourage your attendees and interested parties (stakeholders) to talk about the event and inspire people to come along. Word of mouth is great for getting people who are not on your email lists, in your event management system or on your social media radar.
5) Get Your Email Marketing Right
Email marketing is essential for promoting events. It is also one of those things that needs to be executed in the right way. For example: creating the email invitation, inviting VIPs and maximising email signatures are just three things that spring to mind. If you get any of these wrong, you could be in trouble.
Invitations are one of the most important things to get right. They help set the tone of an event and are often one of the first opportunities to make a good impression with potential attendees. However, research has found that getting people to open that email, click through and sign up to the event is something most organisers struggle with when it comes to event invitations. Strong subject lines and simple design and layout of your email will help.
Related reading: How to Create Invites that Draw People to Your Events
If you decide to invite people as VIPs, then make sure that they are significant to your event. Some organisations send VIP invites to lots of people without filtering who really should be a VIP. Send your special invites to the people that really matter. A small number of well-considered invitations could make a big difference to the success of your event.
Email signatures are often overlooked but they provide a great way of amplifying your event. Include a call to action to drive more registrations. Change the email signature as you get closer to the event and highlight different aspects of it.
6) Make Your Social Special
Social media is another effective way of promoting events. But you will need a strategy, otherwise you will waste time and energy. Target the right social media channels for your audience – there is no point creating buzz in the wrong places.
You will need a variety of content to share and a posting schedule. You can reflect your events’ branding throughout the campaign by replacing generic background images with event logos and your event hashtag.
You can tag in people that are participating such as speakers, hosts, the planning team and maybe delegates that have registered (just make sure you don’t violate any GDPR rules). Have a simple hashtag for your event, one, that is easy to remember and spell. Incorrect spellings of your hashtag will not help your marketing.
If you have some budget, you may choose to buy advertising or sponsor content on social media channels. There is currently a trend to do more paid social as the organic reach of social media is reducing – especially on platforms like Twitter. Use search engine marketing platforms like Google’s AdWords where you can pay to have your event advertised at the top of a search results page.
A combination of paid and organic social media is likely to provide you with the best results.
7) Use Text Messaging
Messaging potential attendees is another way to boost attendance. Not all of your marketing messaging should be done through using only email or social media. There are other ways in which you can get your message across. Some people respond well to texts or messaging apps. Whilst others are happy to take a phone call (yes it still happens).
Then there are messaging apps that you can use. For example, WhatsApp and Slack are pretty good for building interest and community.
Whatever means of messaging you decide to use, it has to work for your potential attendees. You will probably need to use a combination of methods as everyone has a preference on how they like to be contacted. You should be able to locate their contact preference information within your event management solution. Systems like Eventsforce can also help you track this consent to ensure you’re always communicating with attendees in a GDPR compliant way (watch video).
8) Personalise Registration & Don’t Forget Discounts
Though it has its own set of challenges and can vary in effectiveness from one event to another, personalisation doesn’t have to be as complicated as one might think. Most organisations today use some form of automated system to manage registrations around their events and it is good starting point for any kind of personalisation you may want to do.
You could use your event management system to personalise the registration journey for your different audiences to demonstrate how important they are. For example, having a unique registration path for your VIP guests will ensure the questions and prices offered to them aren’t visible to other attendees which will make them feel that the whole experience was ‘personalised’ for them the whole time. You can get all sorts of similar personalisation ideas from this industry eBook – ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation’.
An event management system should also provide you with the flexibility of offering tiered pricing, one off sales and early booking discounts. Using discounts is one way to boost event attendance but it shouldn’t be the one that you rely on.
The ideas we’ve outlined can be mixed and matched according to the individual event. Some techniques will work better for some events than others. The important thing to remember though is to adjust as needed. Make sure you have a strategy for your event marketing campaign and understand why you are following certain actions.
In all the ideas, there is a simple common thread: You have to be clear on what you are saying and why people should come to your event. If you are not clear, it doesn’t matter how many things you do or how much money you spend, your efforts will fail.
Understand who your potential attendees are, use straightforward language, offer a clear proposition and you should see the results you want.
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