If your event has no differentiators or draws to get your attention and make you take notice, you’re probably not alone (although you WILL be at risk of being the only one at the event).
Sometimes event marketing is easy. If you’re giving away $1 million or hosting the celebrity du jour, then you almost certainly have filled seats in your future. But if your client is on a shoestring budget and has no big names to feature, things could get challenging in a hurry. Luckily there are some levers you can pull to make sure you’re maximizing your chances of increasing that headcount.
In order to get people to an event, you have to know which people to target. How old are they? What’s their income level? In what industry do they work? Will they respond to a discount code? It’s always a good idea to develop audience personas so you and your team can be sure you’ve got your eye on the right people.
Do you need to attract hundreds of young people from the iGeneration? Stay away from Facebook. Are you tasked with getting older professionals to your event? Instagram and Snapchat aren’t going to help you much. Take time to craft compelling copy and put it on the right platform to secure eyeballs and convert. Whether you deploy a street team for some experiential marketing, implement an email lead nurturing flow, or engage in a text messaging campaign, remember it’s important to create as many touchpoints as possible to ensure conversion.
If you’re looking to increase attendees organically on social media, consider using hashtags. You can make your own and start including it in all your social copy, or you can piggyback on existing hashtags that are relevant to your audience. For example, if your event is during a conference you should definitely use the official conference hashtag to drive people to your specific event. But be wary – hashtags are advisable on Instagram and Twitter, but less so on Facebook. Know your platform.
Organic posts are necessary, but some digital advertising is advisable as well. Creating a paid post or advertisement on social media ensures you’ll reach more people, but you’ll need to use strategic targeting to make sure you’re reaching the audience that best fits your persona research. Provide clear calls to action so people know where to click to register or sign up for more information, and consider investing in paid influencer campaigns to supplement digital advertising.
If paid media isn’t cutting it, you can always try the earned route. Securing media coverage is tough and you’ll need a compelling news hook to offer a journalist if he/she is going to cover it, but a news piece in a prominent outlet prior to the event could do a lot for lead generation. If that’s not possible, consider calendar listings in area newspaper and on local websites.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words. Videos are worth even more. The point is you should be using/creating visually compelling assets because that’s what people want to see right now. Their eyes might glaze over yet another block of copy, but enticing them with an eye-popping picture or an attention-grabbing video is a much better bet to earn a conversion.
Yes, you’re trying to sell an event. You and everyone else. Instead of focusing on the event itself, look a little deeper and find the stories worth highlighting. Maybe it’s one of the keynote speakers. Perhaps it’s an event organizer who overcame significant obstacles. The point is people are much more likely to respond to content that’s about someone instead of something. Use the best story possible as a way to soft sell the event, and you’ll likely see the desired results.