When you host an event, you want to engage your customers before, during, and after it happens. 44% of marketers experience a 3:1 ROI from event marketing which incorporates a wide variety of domains and can help your company stand out from the competition. Event marketing strategies grab the attention of a crowd of people and leave a lasting, brand-focused impression.
What Is Event Marketing?
· A marketing strategy that involves an in-person or real-time event that may be online or off-line.
· Activities that take place to promote an event like an exclusive dinner, informational webinar or presence at a conference or trade show.
· A serial content strategy that reaches across communication channels.
Why Is It Done?
· Entertainment - to increase customer engagement; to provide goody bags with awesome giveaways.
· Networking – to generate leads, build brand awareness, and up-sell customers.
· Education – to provide value to attendees beyond general information about a product or service.
· Events are not for hard sales – they are to teach; they are to highlight a need and solve it.
· Be aware that attendees may have a different “why” they are there…they might rather be at an event than work, they heard there would be great food and drinks, their boss told them to go…
What Are the Parts and Pieces?
· Set tangible, well-defined goals for the event. Determine what return you expect for your efforts. What do you hope to achieve? More tickets sold, more registrations within a certain demographic, more sales, etc.
· Understand how you will measure the success of your event ahead of time. Set benchmark targets for each part of the process to understand how progress towards your goals will be measured.
· There should be a master plan that contains all aspects of the event, tasks, related deadlines, budget, and so on.
· Create a planning calendar or timeline for both you and your audience. Weekly tasks, who is responsible; as well as the sequence of marketing touches – who, what channel, messaging, etc.
· Brand your event – follow all of your established branding guidelines, use your business name, logo, tagline and event hashtag.
THE EVENT HASHTAG
· Should be short, memorable, and easy to understand.
· Use ONE version consistently across all communication channels.
· Include the hashtag everywhere – on printed materials, in emails, your email signature, social media (put it into your headers), website, blog, etc.
· Your event hashtag serves as a tracker throughout the stages of the event.
THE TARGET AUDIENCE
· Just as you develop buyer personas for your business, develop event personas to help your marketing be as targeted as possible.
· It is important to segment your audience in order to deliver more impactful marketing and service.
· Focus all your content on audience needs and how your event, and products or services will fill those needs.
THE EVENT LANDING PAGE
· Should include a compelling description that makes the benefits of attending clear and simple for various attendees.
· All other electronic communication channels should link back to the event landing page.
· Incorporate images into your content and avoid a heavy sales pitch – aim for helpful, filling a void, meeting a need.
· Change links that would normally go to your website so instead they drive traffic to your event landing page.
· Incorporate a strong call to action.
THE REGISTRATION FORM (on your landing page, of course)
· This is the perfect opportunity to capture demographic information.
· Make it easy and affordable to register.
· Fields should take into account (as appropriate):
o contact information needed;
o fees, if any, and levels for early/late/VIP registrants;
o food choices;
o t-shirt size;
o single registrant or guests;
o deadline for registration.
· Ask for only the information you need to effectively run the event
· To help target the ROI for your various efforts, include a field that asks, “How did you hear about this event?” Give drop-down options and a place where someone can type in a unique answer.
· Use a platform that enables you to identify incomplete or abandoned registrations and retarget those prospects.
What About Marketing?
· While the approximate number of required touches is up for debate, and differs between industries, it is agreed that multiple marketing efforts are required.
· Event communication should be engaging, not a heavy sales or marketing pitch.
· Choose the right marketing channels for your targeted audience – meet them where they spend their time with email, organic social media, paid social media, etc.
· All pieces of communication should include a call to action that links back to the event page or registration form. The fewer steps for the consumer, the better.
· Start with a Save-the-Date email, follow with tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, etc.
· Create a physical postcard or flyer as a leave-behind or hand-out. A pdf version can also be pushed out as part of the email campaign.
· Quotes or testimonials from previous events will lend social proof – include them everywhere in both written and video versions.
· Share pictures of behind-the-scenes action as your team is working towards the event.
SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
· 73% of event planners believe the most effective tool for marketing events is social media.
· Advertise your event in spaces you already own, on profiles and pages you already maintain.
· Make all event postings shareable to encourage word-of-mouth business.
· Welcome new followers with an invitation to the event.
· Host a contest across your social media channels with prizes to be claimed at the event.
· Make a Snapchat geofilter to engage attendees and advantage word-of-mouth opportunities.
· Tweets can’t be overdone because so many are missed. Tweet everything from pre-registration to a countdown of days to “thank you for registering” messages.
· Create a strategically planned email campaign – not just a single email.
· Keep lists clean and remove addresses as requested.
· Test different subject lines to see which perform best.
· All electronic communications, including emails, should be device responsive.
· Include strong calls to action.
Consider a joint market event with similar but non-competing businesses – share contact lists, bring out the best of each business through a common theme. For example, imagine an event that offers the expertise of an organic dog food company with a pet grooming business and a veterinarian office. Consider whether there are other groups who would add to the value of and benefit from your event.
BEFORE THE EVENT
· Add the event to local calendars both online and in traditional media.
· Market the location as you market the event – include inviting pictures.
· Offer a VIP package, at a premium price, with extra perks. Build a VIP list and/or offer the choice on the registration form.
· Incorporate in your blog post the event topic or invite event speakers to write guest blogs.
· Create promotional videos with teasers of this year’s event or clips from previous years’ events if they are available.
DURING THE EVENT
· Tweet quotes.
· Post pictures.
· Stream live video, it may encourage people to attend your next event.
AFTER THE EVENT
· Provide a summary of presentations.
· Post a photo gallery.
· Ask attendees to participate in a survey and provide feedback about the event.
· Send follow-up emails and thank you tweets…the more personalized you can make these communications, the better.
Events can be a great way to promote your business and hosting an event is a less daunting experience when it is well and fully planned. The keys are to: let people know about your event, convey how the event fills specific needs, convince people to attend, and create a brand presence. Sound simple? No? Either way, the experts at Strategy Driven Marketing are ready to help you launch your next event. Contact us today!