My newest client hired me to help her market a fall event. There was little lead-time left. Were we ready to hit the panic button? No way! With a focus on content marketing that targets the right audience, we’re working together to fill every seat.
We’re implementing marketing tactics I’ve used successfully when I ran conferences. They came from trial and error – but by always putting myself in the minds of ideal attendees.
If you’re planning an event, you must think like an attendee. What will make someone jump at the opportunity to be there?
My advice for building interest that leads to a sold-out event includes these 5 overlooked tips:
1. Answer one key question: “Why would someone want to attend?”
Make a list. Put the heading “Ideal Audience” at the top. Describe the audience in a short profile (type of professional, years of experience, geographic location, industry). Then write down every single reason why someone would want to register. Each reason must have high perceived value to your target audience.
Maybe it’s the company they’ll keep, or the rarity of this type of event. Perhaps it’s a speaker, professional development, or the lure of an incredibly attractive venue that’s a popular destination. It could be a low price or super convenience. Hopefully, your event promises to solve or address a pain point your audience is dealing with. This will guide every piece of your marketing efforts.
2. Identify every channel where you have an audience. Start with the obvious:
- Do you have and use a good email list?
- Do you publish a regular enewsletter?
- In which social media sites are you active? Obviously, the larger your audience in each, the better your reach.
- Are you currently a contributor to any industry or professional publication, online and off, or relevant website?
- To what professional associations do you belong? Is there an opportunity with any one of them for you to write an article that shines a light on your expertise and therefore links back to your site?
- Do you have a decent web site and does it attract visitors?
3. Write out a plan for using every channel for event marketing. The message will be different, depending on the channel. Assign specific dates for each action.
- When will your emails go out (to your list, to past attendees, to potential sponsors)?
- If you did a news release, where would you send it?
- Are there LinkedIn groups in which you’re a member that are ideal for event posts?
- When can you tape and publish mini videos about the event?
- Do you have time and resources to mail an event postcard?
4. Feature the event on your web site. Have a special, highly visual promo on the home page with links to internal pages that provide full details.
- Build out your site with event information, so that links in all of your other marketing efforts point to it.
- When you think you’re done with a basic overview of the event, including schedule, pricing, venue details, registration form, and attractive visuals, add deeper content. If you have speakers, include headshots and bios as well as a description of each session and what you’ll. Ask speakers to make mini videos, which you can add to the site.
- Add content that talks about who’ll be there. People like to know who they’re likely to meet. If you’re promoting the event to the right audience, they’ll identify with this list of who’s coming and be more likely to register. Social influence is powerful.
- If you’ve had previous events and collected glowing testimonials, add them strategically to this site content. Use them in emails, too.
- Tape and add mini videos in which you discuss the event.
5. Enlist help from your network. You have a great reputation in your professional network, right? Think about who might help you get the word out about your event, with a promise to return the favor when needed. If an association will share your news with their members, what can you offer in return? How can you encourage past attendees to return and spread the word?
- Can you give away some free tickets?
- Have you written an ebook that would be valuable to early registrants?
- Is there a discount you can extend to past attendees and to networks who agree to help you?
- If you have speakers, ask them to promote their participation in their own channels.
All 5 of my tips involve high-level content marketing. The key is replacing your “Register now!” instincts with a “Here’s why you’ll want to be there!” approach.
Earlier this summer, I wrote another post about customer events. These discuss broader planning issues. Have a look and tell me if you have any questions.
What’s worked in your own event marketing? I’d love to learn from you.
© 2014 Margie Dana.