Are you considering event marketing for your business?
First, congratulations! Event marketing is a great way to engage your customers and develop a lasting relationship with them. It also offers the opportunity to meet your customers and industry influencers face-to-face, rather than simply pitching at them.
But what you’ll find is that event marketing isn’t always well understood – even by many professionals – so we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you think about how best to market your next event.
Getting started with Event Marketing
Let’s start by understanding what is event marketing:
What is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is where a business invests in an event – such as a conference, exhibition, or tradeshow – with the aim of reaching and influencing its target market. By attending these events, they can position themselves as thought-leaders and experts in their industry
Types of Event Marketing
There are many different types of event marketing, each with its own unique advantages.
Let’s look at some common types of event marketing:
- Tradeshows and Exhibitions (including trade shows . Though some companies also hold consumer-facing events such as open days)
- Live Streaming
- Online events
- Virtual events
- Physical events
In essence, there are many different types of events, depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re an eCommerce brand trying to sell fashion or electronics directly to consumers then a consumer-facing trade show will likely suit you best; while if you’re in financial services then attending conferences and seminars will be more effective at generating leads.
Problems Solved By Event Marketing
It’s worth considering what you hope to get out of event marketing before investing in an event. This will help you identify your goal(s) and ensure that your approach is on track.
Here are some common business problems that event marketing can solve:
- Generate leads
- Grow brand awareness
- Improve reputation
- Educate customers
- Build thought leadership
- Build a sales pipeline
- Demonstrate expertise to potential partners and suppliers.
So you’ve decided that event marketing is right for your business. What are the steps to getting started?
Essential Steps To Get Started
1) Understand your event’s objectives
The first step is to be clear on what you want to achieve from the event. For example, will it be a launch of a new product/service or an update on existing products and services? Will it be targeted at existing customers, channel partners (e.g., resellers or distributors), or prospective customers (e.g., marketers and media)?
2) Identify your target audience
It’s also important to be clear who you want to attend – and, just as importantly – who not to invite! It may seem obvious but we’ve seen too many events that end up with a room full of people the host company doesn’t really want to speak with.
3) Build relationships with event decision-makers
Don’t just view the suppliers or organizers of an event as a means to an end – you have every chance of being successful if you build strong business relationships with them before your event. For example, do they share your industry sector? What is their experience in running events like this one? How can you add value to them before your event? How can they add value to you?
4) Agree on the messaging and positioning with key stakeholders
It’s also important to agree on what you want to achieve with colleagues (both internal and external), suppliers, speakers at your event, and, of course, senior management. This should be a joint effort that ensures that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet!
5) Ensure the event fits your marketing budget
Don’t forget that an expensive-looking and -sounding event does not necessarily equate to a successful one. It’s worth testing the waters by hosting smaller events with different audiences leading up to your main one, if necessary.
This is where things start to get interesting
So you’re ready to plan your first event. But how do you make sure it’s a success? Here are some key areas to focus on.
1) Price your tickets correctly
Consider commissioning research into the price sensitivity of your target audience – or even do this as part of pre-event promotion. This can help you decide if you should charge a higher rate for certain attendees. You should also consider how you can leverage your sponsors, partners, suppliers to help cover the cost of event services.
2) Promote your event
It’s not just about buying advertising – remember that there are plenty of free techniques you can use, such as using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter to drive registrations (and think about promoting your event over other channels, too).
3) Prepare your audience for the content you plan to deliver
What are the ‘pain points that you plan to address? How can you highlight these to potential attendees before the event? For example, if there’s a new product/service being launched at your event, then send out an advance briefing to attendees.
4) Make sure your event is engaging
Consider adding an element of gamification to the registration process, for example, or developing a competition that encourages pre-event engagement with buyers. You could also use smart technology such as iPads to help attendees get the most from your event.
5) Don’t forget post-event activities
It’s not just about your event: what happens after the event in terms of follow-up and post-event engagement is crucial to maximize impact. Do you have a specific plan for this? For example, will there be a strong digital element to help capture leads following the event?
6) Evaluate your results
How do you plan to measure success? The key thing is that you need to establish what you will be looking for so that everyone can agree on the level of achievement. This should be discussed in advance with your management team, too.
Event marketing is always evolving and it’s crucial that you keep up to date with your knowledge base. This means attending relevant events, reading the right publications, subscribing to key industry blogs, networking online and offline, working with other companies in your sector – pretty much anything that helps to keep you abreast of the latest developments.