Event planning always sounds easier than it is, at least to those who have never planned an event before. Those who aren’t in the profession will never really truly understand just how much goes into orchestrating and pulling off a conference or summit. It’s not just a matter of sending out a bunch of evites, maybe setting up a Facebook event page, and borrowing some AV equipment from that friend of your cousin.
Part of the magic of a successful event is proper marketing. After all, if you don’t market your event in the right way to the right people, you can’t expect them to buy tickets, or even know that the event exists. Few things are more discouraging than seeing pockets of empty seats when you’ve lined up some fantastic guest speakers, or having guest-less tables.
So let’s talk about the four must-do things when you’re getting ready to market your event and want to those tickets to sell out!
Answer the “What”, the “Why”, and the “Who”
If I asked you what your event is about, you could probably rattle off your rehearsed elevator pitch. But what if I asked you what exactly you want to accomplish and what you want your attendees to walk away with at the end of your event?
It’s not quite as easy to answer, is it? If you don’t know what your goals are, then how are your guests supposed to know the value of the event or why they should attend?
Now follow that up with asking yourself why you’re hosting the event. Is it to share knowledge about a certain topic? To increase revenue? There are tons of reasons for hosting an event – it’s up to you to pinpoint which one is the driving force behind your event.
Finally, do you know who your target market is? Be clear on who you want to attend your event. And I’m not talking about “I want middle-aged women to attend” or “This is for guys who like sports”. You need to figure out your buyer persona – occupation, education, income, etc. – which will lead you to understanding what’s going to turn those “maybe” guests into “yes” guests.
Marketing your event without knowing the what, why, or who is like taking a bunch of flyers, throwing them off a rooftop, and hoping for the best. It’s a spray-and-pray method that might work if you’re lucky, but more likely than not, you’ll end up disappointed.
Pick Up Some Steam With The Right Marketing
There’s a method to the marketing madness! One of the things you want to remember, is there are various outlets through which you can market your event.
One super effective way is by blogging. Create some juicy content and share it with your target audience, and make sure that it’s not just fluff. You want to offer up some substantial knowledge that’s useful and informative. If you are willing to share that for free, imagine what the event will have!
Social media these days should never be overlooked when it comes to building up buzz around your event. You don’t have to be on every platform – just the ones that are relevant to you and your target audience. Organize yourself a social media calendar that will allow you to map out your posts, leading up to the event. Sometimes a boosted post or paid ad can do wonders in getting your event info in front of the right eyes.
Also, did you know that good old networking is also a form of marketing? That’s right, it’s time to brush off those conversation skills and start connecting with people. With that being said, there’s definitely a right way and wrong way to network. For example, after you connect with someone, writing them a personalized message is great way to solidify that connection, even if it’s just a short and sweet note thanking them for their time. A wrong way to go about this would be to send out mass emails that either sound super generic or are blatantly copy-pasted (and have the wrong name inserted)!
So you see – there are a variety of ways in which you can spread the word about your event. It all just depends on who you’re targeting, the type of event, and your budget.
It Takes A Village (To Market An Event)
This is no time to be humble or try to do it all on your own. Use all the resources available to you, from bloggers to people in the press. Doing a guest post for an influential blogger can help you reach an entirely new audience. It will be a simple shout-out about your event that can reach thousands. The same with media connections. If you know your event is press-worthy, let them know and see if they can get your info into outlets that may not be accessible to you through your own singular efforts.
You can also secure sponsorships for your event which will bring it to whole new level! Not only can sponsorship help offset some costs, it can also help give a boost to your event. It can also connect you with a wider audience. The same goes for partnerships and affiliates. Add incentives and contests to your event promotion and you’ll see a healthy bump in activity and interest towards your event. (PS: for the full play-by-play on being a savvy sponsorship sales superstar, you can use my Sponsorship Sales Success Guide to help you navigate your way!)
The Days Before And The Morning After
As your event approaches, ramp up all of your marketing efforts. Ticket sales may have closed but you still want to build up energy and enthusiasm to get your attendees excited about all of the things to come on the day of! Start pumping out posts with a fun and unique event hashtag to create brand awareness so your guests can interact with you before and during the event. Make sure to stay active on all of your social media. to let your attendees know that you’re listening.
After the event wraps up, you still need to do a bit of work. In order to be prepared for your next event (yes, we’re already thinking about your next one!), it’ll be worthwhile to take steps such as getting feedback from your attendees. Make your own notes about what did and didn’t go well and what could be improved in the future. If you collected any data from your guests, such as email addresses, don’t let it just sit around! Get it filed and sorted so that this useful info is ready to go for next time.
So, how do you feel? Yes, events can be TOUGH but plan and market them right, and you’ll be high on success. If you want the full details on event marketing success (including some super helpful workbooks and checklists), you can download my guide here!