Sometimes I wonder if people even attend business conferences and seminars any more. But then invariably, I stumble on to some start up or event management company that drives visitors by the boatload to even the most insipid gabfest and I think to myself, what a wonderful worl – Oops! Got a little carried away there! Anyway, what I used to wonder about was how these small time (albeit highly creative) event managers drove horde after horde of executives to hotel conference rooms and convention centers all over the country – and all on a budget that you’d charitably call ‘shoe-string’.
After few days and a lot of intense research, I think I’ve got it down pat. I present to you, the definitive guide to savvy event marketing in 6 bite-sized info-chunks!
1. Integrate your social media strategies. Blog posts and articles can serve are a reference point on Facebook and Twitter and will drive traffic to your site/blog. Ensure that you link from your blog to your event page – do so prominently. That means you should put up pictures from your past events and repost the coverage that you may have given. Videos are also a great way to give folks a peek at the experience you intend to deliver. These strategies create excellent awareness about your event and help to draw participants and spectators to the venue. Additionally, you should also create marketing visuals and promote them on your social media pages and across your fan base.
2. Segment your audience and target your messages wisely. If this seems like a basic move to you, you’d be shocked at the number marketers and event planners who barely implement it. If you haven’t created an organic list of invitees, you should probably pick one up from a mailing list vendor. However, before you invest in the data, it’s a good idea to figure out whether your event caters to a vertical or a horizontal market. Once you got that down, you can ask your mailing list vendor to segment your list accordingly, saving you time and manpower for what is usually a nominal sum. However, as far as promotion is concerned, I wouldn’t place all my eggs in one basket – split your mailing list and split test with different copy and visuals to see what generates the optimal response.
3. Advertise online. Google Adwords, Selling Power or whatever floats your boat really. Just remember that online advertising costs money. Not a whole lot of it, but enough so that you’ll want to see some measurable results, so ensure that your ads draw attention for all the right reasons.
4. If I were opening a resort or an island getaway geared toward a corporate audience, I’d probably use direct mail. There’s exists a certain freshness and a touch-and-feel aspect to glossy, embossed brochures that you simply can’t replicate with email. If I were planning a business event, online marketing is what I consider the best way to get things done, for three reasons. It’s cost-effective, measurable and far more frequent. An email campaign allows me to send out hundreds of thousands of communiqués at a fraction of what it would cost to mount a direct mail venture on a similar scale. Plus, digitalization allows me to track every single mail and registrant and delivers a significant amount of information on each of them, which in turn allows me to determine trends and figure out whether my targeting strategies are off kilter. Finally, electronic comms gives me the chance to hit my mailing list up every week with interactive content and event teasers.
5. Inject some dynamism into your campaigns! Create multiple back-ups and alternative marketing materials that you can fall back on if your initial efforts don’t quite generate the response you were expecting. Then again, even f your campaign is performing up to expectations, there’s absolutely no reason that it can’t exceed them. Always push to make your marketing initiatives stronger and don’t be afraid to tweak a campaign even if it has already been launched – a bad campaign will stay a bad campaign unless you make the necessary changes. Split you target audience into groups and engage in multi-variate or split testing endeavors. This will help you gauge you audience better and will allow you to respond more effectively to an under par response rate.
6. Get creative. Contract an agency or handle it in-house. But always keep it fresh!
If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to indulge yourself and your fancies too! And yes, I know I lied about the ‘bite-sized info-chunks’ bit.