When discussing my favorite topic—event management—with colleagues and clients, I’m often asked: what’s the best way to get the word out about an event and attract attendees? Given the nearly endless ways we can communicate with prospective attendees, what’s the most effective and efficient way to publicize an event?
The art and science of event promotion is dynamic, to say the least, thanks to the chaotic world of social media. Traditional promotional methods such advertising, press releases, snail mail announcements and invitations are still appropriate for some events. But given typical budget and time constraints, social media is often your best friend when promoting an event. The real-time nature of the media often makes it easier, faster, and more effective in reaching true prospects for your event.
But before rushing into tweeting, posting and sending email blasts, there’s homework to be done. I work with clients to establish a promotional plan for an event; a plan based on strategic marketing principles and practices. That plan then guides all marketing and communications work and maximizes the impact and reach from our promotional efforts. I encourage creating a plan that covers advance communications, as well as communications during the event and after.
In creating the plan, first define your target market. Be sure you’re clear on the people and professions the event is aimed at and who prospective attendees are. Who will enjoy and benefit from the event? Who is the event NOT aimed at?
You may find that you have multiple target audiences who need to be communicated to via different channels. So being clear, and as specific as possible, on who your event is—and isn’t—designed for helps you to create enticing promotional content and use the most promising channels.
Now the fun part: creating and delivering the promotional communications. Colleague and Social Media Expert, Corene Caley provides these techniques to consider:
Use as many different forms of communication as is appropriate for your target audience: snail mail, video, photos, emails, social media, posters, ads, etc.
Make the communications personal and engaging with photos and commentary from your speakers, testimonials from past attendees, enticements from sponsors, etc.
Now, tweet and post! Tweet and post the event date, location, content, speakers, sponsors and special activities before and during the event
Don’t forget the thank-you’s. Before, during, and after the event thank everyone involved: guests, speakers, sponsors, and the behind-the-scenes crew. (By the way, event sponsorship is a big topic that I’ll cover in my next blog.)
Post-event satisfaction surveys are an important way to restate your thank-you, in addition to gathering valuable input on the event.
There are endless moving and changing parts in planning and conducting any event. An event marketing plan is one incredibly valuable tool that helps maintain calm within the storm that is event management.