Pre-event marketing is a critical part of the event planning process. You not only need to make sure people are aware of your event, but you must also build anticipation so your attendees get excited about what’s coming up. As an international keynote speaker, I’ve seen how Content marketing can be an effective way to generate pre-event hype, which will drive ticket sales, engage attendees, and even spark a little fear of missing out.
96% of attendees look for information about an event online prior to attending, so it’s vital to create content for educational as well as marketing purposes.
Before the digital age of content marketing, event planners had to rely on flyers, TV and radio commercials, and word of mouth to market their events. Online content marketing has made event promotion easier and there are so many more opportunities for marketing your event online. However, it’s important to take a strategic approach to content publication and to plan out your marketing campaign just as carefully as you plan the event itself.
- Building anticipation is key to event planning success. That said, be wary of “over-hyping” your event.
- Content is highly effective for event marketing and can help to boost your attendance and ROI. Always be authentic with your content.
- Content in different formats such as video, podcasts, and ebooks works well for keeping the audience and attendees engaged.
- Utilize the power of social media to get your attendees to market your event for you.
1. Run Teaser Campaigns
Teaser campaigns can be an effective way to build buzz before the launch of any kind of product or event. The idea is to release small snippets of content over time, stirring up just enough intrigue so your audience keeps coming back for more.
One of the easiest and most common ways to start off a teaser campaign is with a “coming soon” landing page and graphics on social media. Hint about something exciting coming up but don’t give too much away.
If you’ve not run an event before, don’t just go ahead and announce it – drag out your launch a little by telling your audience you’ve got something exciting coming up, but not letting on that it’s an event. The effectiveness of this technique is that it keeps them guessing.
Just look at the hype that was generated around the teasers for each season of Game of Thrones before it started. The season 8 official teaser video amassed over 12.5 million views and promoted discussion all over the internet about what the final season would have in store.
Your corporate event may not be as exciting as one of the most successful TV shows of all time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the same marketing tricks to build anticipation.
2. Build Up the Hype with an Awesome Blog Post
Writing about your event on your own blog is one of the simplest and easiest forms of content marketing you can do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.
You can blog about your event to flesh out details of the schedule, introduce your guest speakers, and write articles on themes that you’ll be presenting at your event.
Blogging about your event is a good SEO boost and it gives you something other than your event landing page to link to from social media. If your posts offer value to your audience then they will also share them, which helps to increase your exposure, making it easier to reach a wider audience.
Guest posting on other blogs can also be an effective strategy. Come up with a list of other blogs in your industry and think about topics you can write about that will be of interest to your audience. You can work in a mention of your event rather than writing solely about your event. Those interested can click through to find out more.
3. Buzz Away with Social Media
Social media is a great way of building buzz in the run-up to your event, as many users check in daily to see what’s on their newsfeed.
You can do a countdown to your event with a short post each day, link to your blog posts relating to your event, and provide a convenient platform for your audience to ask any questions they may have.
Paid posts on social media can help to get more exposure for your event. They are an effective way of reaching an audience that’s highly targeted but doesn’t follow you already.
Make sure to keep posting to your social media account during the event with pictures and videos. You may even want to consider a live stream of talks and presentations.
Don’t forget to choose a hashtag for your event, and encourage attendees to use it when they post on social media too.
4. Interact with Your Audience
Content marketing doesn’t just mean writing articles and it shouldn’t be one-sided. Involve your audience to boost engagement and get them more interested in your event.
Social media is a natural platform for doing this. You could simply ask them what they want from the event or run polls and surveys. Make sure you respond to feedback – asking for input without responding to it is worse than not asking in the first place.
Make sure to follow your event hashtags on platforms like Twitter and join in the conversation wherever you can.
You could also host a live webinar or Q&A session talking about the event. Make sure you’re offering valuable content, though, and not just using it as a marketing opportunity.
One of the best examples of this is CMI’s Content Marketing World #CMWorld tweet chats every Tuesday where they keep the conversation going (and grow their community) all year long! I was honored to be the very first host for that series and now it has continued for YEARS!
5. Make Good Use of Video
Video’s visual nature makes it a natural medium for event marketing because it can capture the essence of your event in a way that written media can’t. Videos are also a popular content format for sharing on social media, so they can help get the word out about your event to a wider audience.
You can use video to introduce your guest speakers, show off your venue, and even give a behind-the-scenes peek at your event organization. You can also release clips of talks and presentations from previous guest speakers to give future attendees a taste of what they can expect.
Your videos can range from polished event previews to unedited interviews with your guest speakers, or clips of them speaking at other events. You don’t need a big budget or media production company to make them. Video can be off-putting to many event planners as it seems overwhelming, but even a quick video made on your phone can help to capture the interest of your audience.
As well as standard content around the theme of your event and what attendees can expect, make the effort to create more candid and less polished content that engages your audience by letting them in on your organization and planning.
Revealing some of the behind-the-scenes details of your event planning can make your potential attendees feel more involved and as if they’re getting access to VIP insider secrets.
You don’t have to use a huge amount of effort to create this content as it suits its purpose being rough and ready. Think about some tidbits you could show in a video such as a tour of the venue, or type up a quick informal interview with a guest speaker so your attendees can get to know them better.
Social Media Examiner took this idea to the extreme when promoting their Social Media Marketing World event. They released a serialized video documentary on YouTube, The Journey, documenting their efforts to get 5,000 people to the event. The videos have been watched tens of thousands of times and continue to act as a successful promotional tool several years later.
Whatever type of video you create, keep them short – three to five minutes is ideal – and distribute them across all your social media platforms.
6. Put in a Word on Podcasts
Podcasts are highly engaging in the same way that videos are, but you’ll want to use podcasts in a slightly different way to market your event.
You don’t have to create a new podcast just for your event, although this is one strategy you could consider.
If you already produce a regular podcast, base one episode around the event with clips of live talks, interviews with guest speakers, snippets from attendees, and other interesting audio. This can be a great way to promote future events if you intend to run them regularly.
Appearing on other podcasts is also a great way to get the word out. Podcasts are always looking for guests to interview, and this is a fantastic opportunity to reach a wider audience and build excitement for your event.
7. Don’t Overlook Good Old Email Marketing
Email marketing can be incredibly effective for promoting your event. It’s also the best way to stay in touch with your attendees both before and after the event.
Remember, these people are on your list because they’re interested in what you have to say, so the chances of them also being interested in your event are much higher than with people who find your site via search engines or see an ad on social media.
You can use email to announce your event (building a bit of excitement and intrigue by hinting that you’ve got something big coming up prior to the announcement usually works well), inform your audience of the schedule and guest speakers, send out reminders in the week running up to the event, and ask for feedback after the event.
If you send out a regular email, don’t forget to mention your event there too, even if you’re sending out separate emails to promote it. Personalize your emails as much as you can and make sure to educate yourself on effective subject lines and other tricks to maximize your open rate.
Release more details about the event as you confirm them, and be sure to link out to your other content online too. Let them know what type of content they can expect from you after the event too.
8. Encourage User Generated Content (UGC)
You don’t have to be the only one responsible for creating event-related content. Content generated by your audience can be a great way to get the word out, reach more people, and create a bit of peer pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out).
When you send out tickets or registration emails be sure to include your event hashtags and encourage attendees to post on social media before, as well as during and after your event.
You could even send out freebies that double-up as a photo prop for social media posts, or a competition to encourage some pre-event buzz (something like prizes for those whose posts using your event hashtag get the most likes). Setting up an affiliate or referral program is another option to encourage others to market your event for you.
The image below shows Instagram posts tagged with #flathandley – a cardboard cutout of my good friend Marketing Profs’ chief content officer, Ann Handley, that was sent out to attendees of their annual B2B Forum event. (I’ll be there this year. If you’re going, come say hi!)
7. Publish Local-Focused Content
Don’t assume that everyone knows about your brand or your event. Social media and paid advertising can be a way to get more exposure, but don’t forget about good old SEO – we are talking about content marketing after all.
Lots of people search for events in their industry by Googling something like “Seattle marketing conference”. Make sure you’re publishing content that includes these relevant location-based keyword terms.
You could also publish guest posts on the blogs of local businesses, or try submitting a press release to publications in the local area.
9. Maximize the Use of Interactive Content
Surveys are, of course, a great way to gather feedback from your attendees after the event, but you can also use them before and during your event to find out more about your audience and their motivations.
This enables you to tailor your presentations to the audience on the day and make sure you have a balanced program of talks, workshops, and other live presentations that will suit everyone.
10. Get Your Guest Speakers Involved
Hopefully, you’ve already got your attendees creating some content for you. Now it’s time to get your guest speakers involved too.
Your speakers can be a big draw for your event, particularly if they’re some kind of celebrity or influencer in your industry.
Ask them to post about the event and what they’ll be speaking about on their own blog and social media channels. You can also encourage them to be interviewed on other blogs and podcasts. Anything that helps you to reach a wider audience will bring more awareness and ticket sales.
I’ve done “come hear me speak” promo videos, walk off the stage videos, walking around videos, and WTF does this event’s headliner know about their main topic articles – all to help support the events where I speak.
11. Don’t Skip the Giveaways
Offering something extra to your event attendees as a way of thanking them for registering for the event gives extra value to your audience and is also a way to connect and engage with them in the build-up to the event.
You can send out resources that expand on topics covered in live talks or workshops or give out free electronic copies of books by guest speakers.
Everyone loves a freebie, but don’t be automatically choose something like the physical pens and tote bags that are commonly given out at trade shows. Think about what you can offer that will really provide value for your target audience, while also continuing to market your event and brand.
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BOOK ME TO SPEAK AT YOUR NEXT EVENT!
My favorite thing to do in the world is to speak to people at events. I try to use an inspiration to action model that gets people thinking AND ready to act when they get back to the office. I’m proud to have been the highest ranked speaker at a number of events with much higher paid (and bigger ego) speakers. I’m a 3-time author, listed as a Forbes top CMO influencer,