Even in our increasingly impersonal world of texts, tweets, Tumblr and tech, people still enjoy human interaction. We are social creatures. Whether in social, academic or business settings, we’re wired with the desire to build relationships and seek out camaraderie. You prefer doing business with people you know and trust, right?
Yet with all of our virtual wizardry and incessant phone-staring, face-to-face meetings remain a crucial aspect of conducting business – and events are still a great way to facilitate business-boosting face-to-face interactions. Events are an important part of the marketing puzzle that can help you create genuine, lasting relationships with customers.
That said, you need to be on your game if you want to have a ‘successful event,’ as opposed to just an ‘event.’ Let’s talk about how you can maximize your event marketing.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Before you determine the particulars of your event, it’s critical to start by defining your win. What is it you’re trying to accomplish?
- Brand awareness?
- Direct sales?
- Newsletter subscriptions?
- Website traffic?
- Getting some top-notch celebs (Screech, etc.) in the house to boost your visibility?
Regardless of your endgame, develop a plan to reach specific objectives. Get a strategy in place for how you’re going to meet your goals and monitor your results. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What can you do before the event to approach your win?
- What can you do during the event to achieve your win?
- What can you do after the event to cement your win?
Nitty-Gritty Details Can Break (or Make) Your Event
After getting your date and venue nailed down, it’s time to plan your event setup, and ferret out the nitty-gritty details about the venue.
Are you going to have a booth? What are the specs of said booth? Make sure you account for:
– Layout and flow
– Staffing needs
– Furnishings and signage
How about utilities? Make sure you have a back-up plan in case of any internet or electricity issues.
Get Your Other Departments Involved
You’ve determined what your ‘win’ is. What about your colleagues? What’s their win? How can you leverage your event to involve and benefit them as well?
Being inclusive and proactive about coordinating your internal promotions will help you smash down office silos, foster some workplace symbiosis, and gin up more overall support for your event. You might just become the office hero, or at least earn some praise from your boss for rallying different departments together.
Getting Engaged Traffic, Generating Buzz
Obviously it’s important to invite folks to visit you at your event, but make sure you’re selective in your messaging. The trick is to generate buzz without being annoying.
Here are some options for getting the word out:
- Direct mail
- Online content
- Banner ads
- Interstitials (Careful with this one)
- Owned media
- Print ads
- Trade show apps
- Skywriting (go big or go home, right?)
- Social media
- Email campaigns
Hyping your event with video on social media is a no-brainer. One poll found that 82% of an online audience found it helpful to see an event virtually when decided to attend in-person next time.
Provide Value, Be Welcoming, Don’t Do Tai Chi
In order to get your message through, you need to offer real value in all your audience-facing communication. Is what you’re saying useful or helpful? Instead of white noise…
- Take them to show registration
- Tell them about content they can only find at your booth (and where they can find you at the show)
- Reward repeat visitors
- Solicit their ideas and feedback
How you interact with folks before your event sets the tone for your actual event. If you’ve established rapport, that’s a good first step toward creating a welcoming ambience.
As for being welcoming, don’t make it hard for people to connect with you and with others at your event.
- Create a fortress
- Stand in the aisle
- Sit inside the booth to eat, read, or doing anything weird like practice your Tai Chi moves
- Be pushy
- Smile and say hi
- Give people a reason to mingle
- Be “show” knowledgeable
- Collect data
Win the #Swag Battle!
We’re all different, but everybody likes free stuff. Swag is still a powerful tool in the belt of any event marketer. But don’t just give it away! (Unless you’re giving stuff away via t-shirt cannon, which is always awesome and memorable.)
Try to create and protect value in an exchange, and utilize swag to open up conversation. If your plan is just to leave USB sticks with your company’s logo on a table, save your money.
On the topic of money, invest in your staff. Take good care of them. A happy, informed, empowered staff are the underpinning of every successful event.
You may think your event was a smashing success, but if you’re not collecting data, tracking your results and soliciting feedback, you’re missing the boat. You have to be able to prove ROI. In order to do that you need the right tools and methodology that pertain to you and the metrics your boss cares about.
So take time to rate and score leads, purchase the show attendee list, do what you have to do to get as much data as you can.
However there’s no point in gathering information your company doesn’t plan to do anything with, so make sure the data you’re collecting is useful, and something you can integrate into your CRM. Work with your bosses and other departments to see what kinds of data they value.
Event marketing isn’t rocket science, but it’s important. You create experiences that foster customer loyalty, and you bring people together. That’s something we can always use more of.
Now get out there and be an event marketing hero!