Marketing Your Event

Put the focus on the attendee. Make sure all marketing materials address the benefits he or she will gain. Translate all the features (content, location, etc.) into benefits, emphasizing the valuable takeaways your event offers. Create customized pieces that address the different groups, so each recipient will feel that the event is “just for me.”
Walk to the edge of the abyss. Don’t be afraid to make your marketing message bold and provocative.
Address objections head on. When potential attendees hedge about an event, don’t be shy. Instead, wave the objection like a big banner—actively dispelling notions as to why the objection is not an issue.
When designing a marketing piece (either print or digital), create a killer headline to grab attention. Practical information (date, location, session descriptions, etc.) should appear lower, as should the company logo or pictures. Other design elements should include using short bullets, as well as numbers or percentages, to emphasize key points.
• Sincere, attributed testimonials from people who attended your event last year can be terrific, especially if they are humorous. The best way to solicit testimonials is to ask open-ended questions on evaluation forms, directly after the event, and follow-up again with email questionnaires a month later. Tweak the testimonials down to their essence.
• The early bird gets the worm. While they are actively engaged in this year’s event, get them to register for next year’s gathering. Entice them with an attractive offer (perhaps 35% off if they sign up early), but provide a strict deadline.
• Make it easy. If someone goes to your website to sign up for an event, create a dedicated landing page for it. You don’t want them hunting all over the place for the link.
• Offer a money back guarantee. It will make attendees feel that they have nothing to lose by signing up for your event.
Create urgency by stressing exclusivity. Emphasize that there are only 75 seats left, or state that they don’t want to miss out on the valuable information their competitors will reap.
• Marketing is a continuous loop. You need to market before AND after your event, because after the event is actually promotion for your next event.
• Use ambassadors to help promote your event. Ask your ambassadors (your speakers, sponsors and attendees) to share content via word of mouth or through social media, especially Twitter.
Employ all types of outreach. While digital channels are very popular and efficient, they have become saturated. Surprisingly, an old-fashioned letter printed on nice paper with a handwritten signature can be an effective way to market your event because they attract attention.
• Let audience members choose their channels. Some like print, others prefer email, while others like Tweets. Don’t make choices for your readers. Let them choose the channel they feel most comfortable with.
• Constantly test what works for your particular audience. It can constantly change.
• Build excitement by creating a media calendar. Post one article per day on different channels for two weeks leading up to the event. Another good idea is to create a quarterly or “Best Of” collection of content.

Marketing Your Event with Snapchat
Snapchat posts may be ephemeral—texts, posts, photos, and videos disappear within 24 hours—but their impact on your meeting could be long-lasting. It was an instant hit with teenagers when it launched in 2011, but now Millennials make up 73% of Snapchat’s 150 million daily users. It is especially popular with 18 to 34 year-old women. Snaps are like events—temporary experiences that can have a lasting impact. Event planners can start by opening up their own Snapchat accounts and follow event industry pros who already use it for their events to pick up some pointers. Snapchat has the highest engagement value of any of the social media platforms. It is five times more effective in engaging people than Twitter and twice as effective as LinkedIn.

Show behind-the-scenes action. Share your snapped photos and videos from pre-event and prep activities. One example: Show volunteers stuffing the conference bags with goodies, then share a picture of the room full of stuffed bags just waited to be picked up. This builds buzz because people know they are going to get these bags stuffed with goodies. It makes it exciting. You can also show the set-up crew setting up and breaking down the sets to give people an appreciation for what goes into creating the magic.
• Do pre-event interviews with key speakers and vendors. You also can do a “takeover” where you let an influential individual post on the account for a day to show their own perspective on what’s happening behind the scenes.
• Capture fun networking moments. Even on the hotel shuttle, fun can happen. Show a still video from a video shot of the shuttle that has a gregarious emcee interacting with others on the bus. If you have an exclusive event, you can share snaps so those who can’t attend still get some access. Post snaps from an invitation-only sponsor event, which also gives sponsors a boost as they are highlighted in snaps over the course of the event.
Use geofilters. Unique to the Snapchat platform, geofilters are words or illustrations that can be overlaid on snaps being sent from a specific location—say in the meeting room. Event organizers can design and submit their illustration to Snapchat, choose the location and timeframe, and for a relatively small fee (it starts around $5 for 20,000 square feet) the event brand is automatically overlaid on the snaps sent from that location.
FOMO. Through snaps, those who aren’t at the event see their friends and colleagues engaging in activities in real-time which makes them wish they could be there too. Snapchat is especially popular at festivals and special events such as weddings. The fact that it disappears over time makes it addictive. It creates a buzz and ultimately helps you increase ticket sales moving forward.
• Content. It provides user-created content that you can use to fill your marketing pipeline on other platforms. If you see some snaps getting higher engagement, these may be good to share on Facebook or Twitter, or repurpose for your event website.