You are planning an amazing event. You’ve got a date, a venue and an overarching end goal -- you’ll make money, your attendees will benefit in a big way and you’ll build a powerful brand experience that elevates and enhances your business.
Haven’t taken those first few steps? Click here for part one. Get your foundation in place, then come back—there’s lots to tackle in part two.
With the wheels in motion, it’s time to start promoting your event like a pro. Even if this is your first time at the proverbial event rodeo, that’s no excuse not to pound the pavement, get the word out and, even, start pre-selling your systems and solutions now. You could have the greatest event ever, but if no one knows about it, no one’s coming to it.
Promotions are essential to cultivating strong event experiences. Having the right people with the right mindset and the right goals and ambitions in the room come event day is magical -- truly. Not only will you have greater engagement and conversion -- you’ll accomplish more, you’ll sell more -- but everyone in that room will benefit. And everyone in that room will be ready to take the next step with you.
So how do you promote your event and ensure your message gets to the right people when they’re primed to buy? Start with your existing audience and prospect list. If you have a database of names and emails, you can send a stunning invite to your entire list in minutes.
My favorite invite site is Greenvelope. Simply export your list to Excel, upload it to Greenvelope and click send. Your invite will come from Greenvelope and, when recipients open it, will direct them back to your site to register for your event. The initial visual experience is very powerful and very visceral -- done right, recipients want to click through. And now you’ve captured another prospect who has, at least, some kernel of interest in what you’ve got to say.
Another great option especially if your email list is on the small side is to create an event in Eventbrite. Eventbrite charges a small administrative fee for every ticket sold but, in exchange, they manage ticket sales and provide a professional platform to drive prospective attendees to. Even if I’m handling ticket sales on my site, I almost always add an Eventbrite page as well -- it takes a few minutes to set up and, once it’s live, provides a turnkey system for attracting new attendees. Use your email list and/or social media to drive prospects to convert, and easily track your ticket sales or requests online. People can even find your event via search or by navigating categories on Eventbrite. It’s a win/win.
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While retargeting is definitely a more advanced promotional strategy, it’s one that I love and have leveraged successfully over and over again. Retargeting promotes your event to people who have already visited your site -- maybe they landed on your ticketing page but didn’t buy. Or maybe they read through promotional content and closed out of the window after a minute or two. No matter their path, these potential attendees are engaged. Just because they didn’t convert on the spot doesn’t mean they don’t still have value to you and your event. You just need to bring them back.
You’ve likely experienced retargeting while online recently. Maybe you were looking at a pair of shoes at Macy’s, but didn’t buy them. You close the window, start a new search, land on a new site totally unrelated to those shoes but -- voila! -- there they are, in an ad unit front-and-center. That’s retargeting. That ad will follow you around the Internet for a set period of time, trying to entice you to come back and buy those shoes. Marketers know it takes six to eight touches to make a sale -- retargeting leverages that notion, showing you what could be over and over again, in a very organic way in the hopes that you’ll bite. And, in many cases, consumers do.
There are plenty of companies out there including RME360, Perfect Audience and AdRoll who can get your retargeting efforts in motion for very little cost -- some even offer free trials so you test out various tactics. Sign up, get a tracking pixel and put it on your website or specific web page. You can also put the pixel in an email -- if a recipient opens your email but never clicks on the link, you can follow them around the Internet, showing them what they’ve missed. It’s, truly, the power of personalization -- creating a relevant experience tied to your brand and brand experience that offers real value to the end user.
And, beyond that, it works. I recently launched a campaign that delivered 771,000 impressions -- that banner followed people around the Internet and loaded 771,000 times. Of those 771,000 impressive, 1,000 people came back to the website and 34 ultimately bought tickets. The campaign cost less than $3,000 to execute and yielded significantly more than that in ticket sales alone, not to mention money spent at the event on the products and systems we were selling. That’s a major win in my books.
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Especially in your early days of event planning, drumming up attention and interest can be a challenge. So how do find those engaged prospects? Look at other brands in your space and out, and see what you can learn and, even, gain from studying their audiences.
Even though I’ve done this countless times, I’m always inspired by the great work others are doing in the space. We get better by observing others who excel. Think about who’s set the bar on events in your industry and see what they’re doing. Then think about brands who complement yours -- maybe a financial firm if you’re a real estate investor, or a gym if you’re a trainer -- and jot down your “Dream 100.” These are the 100 people and companies you’d love to do business with, now or in the future. Then, grab your phone and start calling.
Now is the time to put your dreams and all of that incredible planning into motion to get the job done. Simply explain that you’re planning an event and see if they would be interested in including a free ticket in whatever offer they’re currently promoting. Or see if they’ll offer their customers and clients tickets to your event as a value add to their offer, in exchange for a percentage of sales generated by any attendee they send your way. It’s a win for this potential partner -- they get something high value to sweeten their own deals and, potentially, a cut of your revenue -- and it’s a win for you, as you’re expanding your reach and tapping into quality clientele already vetted and primed to take action. While you could lose a bit in the revenue department, it’s almost always worth it. Building an audience base can be costly and time consuming -- these partners and promotions are taking much of the legwork and much of the headache out of the equation.
Beyond these bigger, better promotional outlets, there are several free or low-cost opportunities you can integrate right now to spread the word about your event. Often planners get so caught up in the big fish that they forget the turnkey opportunities already in reach -- opportunities that can yield equally impressive results.
First, don’t forget about social media. Post your event to Facebook. If you have a list you can upload it and find contacts on Facebook, and market to them directly. Facebook also has a host of low-cost advertising opportunities that take just minutes to set up and can be targeted to your very specific attendee pools -- think gender, location, household income, interests and more. Even better, ads can be turned on and turned off at any point -- there’s no long-term commitment and, more importantly, you’ll have the option to assess what’s working and what’s falling short so you can invest more in the high performing ads in real-time. Depending on the nature of your event, Linkedin can also be a great platform for attracting and engaging professionals from across any industry. Post your event or tap into Linkedin’s advertising platforms and get your message in front of key players and prospects at any level, any industry and any company anywhere.
Newspaper ads are also good ways to attract attendees. Long-form display advertising can yield tremendous results in the right market -- and, of course, if you have the promotional budget in place. I’ve long used ads to fill real estate seminars, and they do work. If you’re short on funds, consider asking the paper to barter with you. Offer them a sponsorship of your event, for example, or a targeted promotion to attendees post-event in exchange for an ad or series of ads. Often newspapers leave holes for last-minute advertisers and, when those aren’t sold, they need fillers fast -- having your ad on hand and, more importantly, gaining a promotional opportunity for themselves in the process could be of huge value to a local paper.
At your event you’ll espouse the benefits of your products, services and solutions -- but it doesn’t hurt to start asking for the sale now. How can you influence attendees and prospective attendees before they arrive? How can you start building your case so they walk in knowing that, at the end of the day or end of the weekend they’re walking out with this system, and all of the opportunity that comes with it?
As you’re promoting your event be sure you’re always thinking about how you ask for the sale now -- or, at the very least, tease the ask that’s about to come. People like to be mentally prepared and they like to understand what’s on tap. If you can get even a fraction of attendees primed to buy before they walk in you’ll not only be in an incredible position to convert them but, also, to leverage their enthusiasm and path to purchase to influence others to do the same. More sales, less heavy lifting -- what event planner wouldn’t want that?
No matter how new or established you are in the event space -- and no matter how amazing your event is -- you need promotions. If you aren’t getting the word out, you aren’t attracting the right customers or the critical mass you need to make your event an unequivocal success. Sign up for a free strategy session and see how you can get your event and its promotions on track fast. With some effort, focus and determination you’ll find the promotional outlets that work for your brand and your events, and start engaging and converting even more attendees with less time, resources and effort -- and that means more on site sales and a bigger pool to pull from as you begin planning your next event. Good luck!