We’ll admit—it’s a challenge to put together an event. But, if you break down the process into simple steps, you can have an event marketing plan that will not only ease your own worries but will rock the socks off your attendees.
- Use your website as your online home base, augmenting it with personalized communication, social media reach, influencer promotions, and guest blogs by featured speakers.
- Select a venue that will attract attendees for its industry significance and encourage local businesses to become event partners and sponsors.
- Start marketing next year’s event as soon as the last attendee walks out the door after this year’s event.
1. Maximize Your Event Website’s Reach
Your event deserves its own website. As a footnote to your corporate website, it might get lost in the clutter.
As a standalone website, or as a section on your main site at the very least, you can optimize it, brand it, and attract visitors that wouldn’t have found it if it were on your corporate site. Use press releases to give your site more exposure, linked social media accounts to reach potential attendees’ preferred channels, and conduct registration and communication through the site and its official email address.
Make sure that your company or industry organization links to the event website—and encourage members and employees to do so on blogs, social media accounts, and other digital assets.
If it’s a recurring event, you can post throughout the year on the event website’s blog, building anticipation as you release the names of your keynote speakers, session topics, nearby attractions, and activities during the event.
2. Leverage Content Marketing to Attract Industry Leaders
Invite some of your featured speakers to write thought-provoking blog posts. Not only will this strategy strengthen their position as thought leaders in the industry, but it will also motivate other industry leaders to attend your event.
What digital marketer could resist an opportunity to chat with Neil Patel over hors d’oeuvres at your event’s gala reception? Or what golf equipment manufacturer would pass up a chance to pick Tiger Woods’ brain at a golf equipment industry event?
Then, empower your speakers to promote their blog post—and their upcoming appearance at your event–on their own website and social media channels. Their followers, too, will be more likely to reserve their spot at your event when their favorite expert will be there.
3. Find a Venue with Significance to Your Target Audience
If your event moves from city to city, find a place to hold your event that has historical or emotional significance to your industry. For example, a hockey coaches’ training event would have even more significance if you could hold it in Lake Placid—the town in which the “Miracle on Ice” happened back in 1980.
Likewise, food and beverage shows will attract more restaurant owners and grocery store executives when you hold them in a town—or area in town—known for its great food.
Or, you could just name your conference after the place it’s held in:
4. Use Personalization to Draw Attendees In
From your invitations to your speaker and topic selections, it pays to take a deep dive into your target attendees’ data to see what they’re reading, talking about, and commenting upon.
Use this information to deliver personalized communication, speakers and topics that interest them, and then at the event itself, make sure that the organizing team makes themselves available for personal chats with your attendees.
Not only will this make attendees feel as if they have a voice, but it can also help you improve next year’s event when you use feedback from some of these one-on-one conversations to tweak your program.
5. Get More Commitments Early On with Early-Bird Discounts
Global event management company Eventbrite advises events to offer those who commit soon after the event’s announcement a deep discount for early registration. Not only does this strategy build goodwill among attendees, but it also gives early birds a chance to contact their friends and colleagues to encourage them to take advantage of the discount as well.
6. Find Partners That Complement Your Event and Its Attendees
Find brands that provide goods and services your event attendees will likely need to set up booths around the venue. Don’t forget to invite the media and local businesses, too. Find local restaurants and hotels willing to provide discounts to attendees. It’ll be great publicity and boost their business—and make your attendees happy to get financial perks for attending.
7. Get Referrals from Regular Attendees
Whether it’s testimonials about last year’s event or promoting next year’s event to their colleagues and friends, your regular attendees can be your event’s best friends. As soon as your event ends, reach out to them to help you get next year’s off on a good foot. You might even consider providing those who bring a certain number of friends or colleagues with a free or deeply discounted admission.
8. Gain Authority and Clout with Influencers
Industry bloggers, podcasters, media figures, and social media influencers can help raise the profile of your event among their followers. Involve them early and often to get their imprimatur—and buzz—about your event. Invite them to attend the event and report back to their followers. Lure them in with free admission, free invitations to receptions and dinners, and other perks.
9. Use Email to Communicate with Attendees Before, During, and After the Event
Don’t forget about your attendees after they’ve sent in their registration form, says a post on Crazy Egg. Use email automation to inform them of any changes, additional events, and to remind them to make their hotel registrations early (remind them about any discounts your partners or sponsors have provided).
During the event, do quick surveys about the helpfulness of workshops or speakers. After the event, survey them about their experience at the event—and use their input to help plan next year’s event.
10. Make the Experience a Once-in-a-Lifetime One
Nothing sells next year’s event better than an amazing experience at this year’s event. That means that your marketing team must work hand-in-hand with your organizers and other event workers to provide:
- Seamless registration onsite and off: Self check-ins, pre-printed name badges, and plenty of smiles and goodies help to get everyone off on the right foot.
- Consider an event app: There’s nothing like instant phone notifications and the ability to connect with help teams to smooth out any snafus to keep attendees happy throughout the event. Reminders about don’t-miss events and get-togethers help to keep everyone on board.
- Keep your onsite team on their toes: Make sure that onsite event staff members are easily identifiable, well-informed, and ready to help attendees find workshops, booths, restaurants, museums, or whatever they need to make their experience something to write home about.
With superb marketing beforehand working together with your on-site team to provide attendees with quality programs, a seamless experience, and valuable information and contacts, your event will become one that goes on the calendars of industry movers and shakers every year.
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,