This is a guest post by Allen Yesilevich from MC².
You may recall the phrase, “If you build it, they will come,” from Field of Dreams. While that’s a great sentiment for a feel-good movie, professionals know you can’t simply build something and hope people will show. And marketers know that in the world of event marketing, this approach is a prescription for disaster.
Read on for event marketing tips you can use to engage audience members before your event even begins.
Why you need event marketing
Marketing investments, such as trade show exhibits, festivals, consumer events, conferences, and a variety of other events require substantial effort to strategize, create, build, and set up, so it’s important that they’re well attended. Event marketing is a great way to get prospects to come to your events.
Trade shows generally attract large audiences, but attendees choose which brands’ exhibits to visit. In some cases, thousands of brands are vying for attendees’ attention.
Trade shows offer the unique feature of allowing face-to-face interaction between the lead or prospect and a brand’s sales personnel, executives, and product teams.
What’s more, live events provide an opportunity to connect with people on an emotional level, and as every salesperson knows, emotions often play a large role in a person’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
Since 69% of the people who attend trade shows are shopping for products and services, event marketing is imperative. However, before you can engage, you must motivate your targeted prospects and clients to attend your exhibit or event, which is where event marketing tips come into play.
Event marketing tips: what works and what doesn’t
Before you engage, you must attract.
Today’s information-saturated world requires marketers to work harder and smarter to attract the attention of potential event attendees. Promoters have access to numerous media, but which they choose depends on the event’s type and budget.
Making personal calls to invite your contacts to an event can be quite effective, but this isn’t practical for larger events like trade shows and consumer events (except when inviting VIPs).
Print ads remain viable for targeting certain industries or consumers, but the timing of magazines and newspapers can present problems. Some publications suspend issues during the summer; others reduce the number of issues and subscriptions.
Print ad materials must also be submitted well before the publishing date. Cost is another problem: Print ad rates have skyrocketed—not because they’re more effective, but because fewer brands now use print media.
Post office mail (aka snail mail) can be effective because the volume of mail individuals receive has diminished due to the rise of digital media. However, cost can be a deterrent for a large mailing list, especially for multiple mailings.
Using digital media is the fastest, most cost-effective way to invite your contacts to visit your exhibit.
Social media posts, whether organic or paid, allow you to act quickly. This approach is reasonably priced, and posts can be viewed on stationary and mobile devices.
However, social media posts are subject to fans’ viewing habits. Not everyone accesses social media sites daily—much less hourly. Because of the high volume of social media posts, skipping a day or even an hour can relegate a marketer’s post to the bottom of people’s timelines.
Text messages eliminate the issue of access, since just about everyone carries their phones with them wherever they go. You can be fairly sure your message will be delivered.
But even if you have a person’s approval to send texts, many people are annoyed by repetitive messages, and there’s a limit to how much a person can absorb from a single text message.
Other media, such as billboards, TV and radio commercials, and mobile ads (car wraps and bus ads), may be effective for large consumer events, but cost and effectiveness make them less practical for business-to-business events.
That being said, email may be the best medium for attracting people to events.
Although it was among the first digital communication tools, email remains a popular medium for event promotion. Even online events like webinars are a perfect time to send event marketing communications:
Here are a few reasons why marketers still love email:
- Email is cost-effective, especially when sending multiple (drip) emails. It can also be automated, which saves effort and money.
- Email is easy and quick to implement and send, and most providers offer templates if you can’t design your own emails.
- Email is omnipresent; it’s available on all digital message devices.
- Email is an effective medium, and it generates higher read and click rates than other digital media.
- Email is socially acceptable (as long as it’s permission based).
- Email allows an image-rich message experience.
- Email is a more personal form of communication than social media. It’s directed at a specific person, and personalization can be enhanced with unique content.
Creating an event promotion program
Email should be the backbone of your event promotion strategy: However, a multimedia approach is best for reaching large numbers of people. Here’s how I suggest using various media to promote an event.
Create a drip email campaign in advance of the event to inform potential attendees, create interest, send reminders, and distribute pre-show surveys. You can also ask email recipients about their expectations for the event. Surveys can be informal, or you can take a crowdsourcing approach to help you generate ideas.
This approach does require you to have a targeted email list. If you don’t have an existing email list, you may be able to find what you need through a list broker.
During the event, send emails to inform visitors of special activities, such as product demonstrations, speeches, or cocktail parties.
After the event, send follow-up emails to remind visitors of the important points that were covered. These emails should include a call to action, such as having a salesperson contact them or requesting more information, to help them along their journey to becoming a client.
Copy, messages, graphics, videos, and other content created for the event and event emails should be utilized on your site. Want a real-life example? Click here to see the Campaign Monitor Marketing & Mixology event infographic.
You can also use these resources for social media to create a holistic communication matrix. Landing pages for emails can be duplicated and used for social media posts as well.
Prior to the event, use organic and promoted posts to stimulate interest and help spread the word.
During the event, live posts, videos, and messaging can assist you in expanding your reach to those who couldn’t attend or haven’t yet visited your exhibit.
After the event, posts can be used to recap important information. These posts also help you extend your event’s reach by allowing those who couldn’t attend to experience your brand’s message.
Use texts during the event as alerts and reminders of activities or special offers.
VIP clients and prospects should receive personal calls or emails, inviting them to your event. It’s a great opportunity for the sales staff to connect with VIPs.
In some cases, important clients and prospects should receive printed invitations to create a sense of exclusivity.
A word about attention span
There’s a popular notion that people’s attention spans are getting shorter, caused by the sheer volume of information they receive.
Consider instead that people’s attention spans are getting more advanced. For instance, our original Gen Z research found that Gen Z customers want relevant information above all else. Rather than having a short attention span, they have a sophisticated filter.
People are pickier about what they’re willing to invest time in reading. A study by Prezi, The State of Attention, supports this premise. Prezi found that people stay with a message longer if it features engaging content, a compelling narrative, and stimulating visuals and dialogue.
The study points to the phenomenon of TV binge-watching as proof that people will invest time in a message that engages them. Most marketers don’t have entertainment industry budgets, but we do have the ability to communicate with our prospects using relevant, emotional, and interesting information.
With emails, the subject line is generally the first message the recipient sees. The more enticing the subject line, the better the chances the recipient will open and read your email. However, the message must follow up with information that fulfills the promise made in the subject.
Readers’ interests can also be piqued by including visuals and links to more detailed information. This approach also applies to social media posts.
Event marketing tips are great, but your tips and marketing tools will work much better if you take the time to see your offering through your customers’ eyes.
The better you understand your attendees’ needs and wants, the more you’ll be able to create effective messages that engage your prospects—and, if you engage them, they will come.
Allen leads marketing, growth and business development strategy efforts at MC² , an award-winning globally-recognized brand experience solutions agency. He has over 15 years of brand, marketing and advisory experience.