Engage Event Attendees Throughout the Year
The job of an event planner never ends. If you’re not actively managing an event you’re thinking about the event, either how it will go or how it went, what was right and what was wrong, how you can improve and how to bolster the aspects that work. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Of course, one item that is always top of mind is how to encourage attendees to return while also gaining new visitors. The best way to achieve both of those goals is to make sure that your event stays on their radar throughout the year.
Ramping up your marketing efforts into a year-round activity will require a bit of effort, but since the event is always on your mind anyway, why not send some of those thoughts out to the world.
Utilize Social Media
Research revealed that 96 percent of event attendees use a mobile device while they are on the show floor. Well, if they are walking around with their noses buried in their screens when they are at your event, you can be sure that they behave the same in their everyday lives.
Our phones and devices are practically an extension of who we are. We work on them, we play on them, we set them down when we sleep, and they are the first things we glance at when we wake.
If you hope to remain in contact with your attendees, you need to reach them through their phones – and that means utilizing social media. Choosing the platform and messaging that will best appeal to your demographic requires some trial and error. Delving into your data will give you some ideas, but even then you may not want to stick exclusively to one or two platforms. You never know what you may uncover when you reach beyond your comfort zone.
A couple of ways to takes advantage of each platform include:
• Utilizing Facebook Live to announce milestones, such as the first day tickets go on sale, speaker reveals, and any promotions you decide to run.
• Regularly sharing Instagram stories showcasing highlights from past events or the run-up to the latest show.
• Monitoring the Twitter feeds of past attendees, liking and retweeting relevant content while occasionally commenting to remain in the conversation.
• Using influencers to promote experiences at past events, the excitement around your speakers, and the activities available at the upcoming show.
• Promoting the use of your event’s hashtag, even once the event is over, and encouraging attendees to post and share their thoughts about the show.
• Scheduling a time for you and your speakers to engage in a Twitter chat.
When using social media marketing, especially for unfamiliar platforms, be sure to monitor your activity closely. It does no good to generate exciting posts if no one is paying attention.
As an event planner, you are likely intimately familiar with the wants and needs of your audience. I’m sure you craft your show to address several of the aspects that are important to your audience.
Understanding needs and having solutions to those needs makes you a content specialist. You can utilize this knowledge to craft a series of blogs full of information that your audience will find relevant and helpful. Be sure to promote your efforts on social media, and you can make your website a go-to destination for people seeking help for their industry needs.
Once folks get in the habit of checking out your site, it becomes easy to promote your events and any other campaigns or marketing efforts. Also, much of the content you create will be evergreen, meaning you can continue to push it out over time.
The content you create can also be repurposed (and augmented with new material) for newsletters.
Newsletters utilize that granddaddy of digital communication: email. Just because it’s been around for a while – almost 50 years – does not denigrate the importance of email. Business communication still runs on email, with 72 percent of consumers stating that email is their preferred source of communication.
So, sending an email monthly or semimonthly is a great way to keep your event in the minds of current and future attendees while promoting your place as a thought leader.
You can also utilize email marketing to alert people about ticket sales and promotions, highlight past events, and showcase this year’s speakers and sessions.
Support a Cause
People want to work with companies and attend events that support causes, especially when those causes align with their beliefs.
If you elect to hold a fundraiser or sponsor a cause during your slower time, you will be doing some good while maintaining a presence in front of your audience. This is known as cause marketing.
Cause marketing helps to illustrate the impact your brand can have beyond its intended original scope. While the effectiveness of your campaign is centered on choosing an issue that aligns with your company’s image and your consumer’s beliefs and once you have found a match, your efforts will be rewarded – and rewarding.
Timeline for Year-Round Engagement
During/Immediately After an Event
If you know you will be hosting an event next year, there’s no better time to announce it than when you have an active and engaged audience at this year’s festivities.
Then, once the doors close, be sure to reach out to attendees while the event is still a fresh memory. Send tweets and Instagram stories containing event highlights. Brag about how many people attended, send clips from speeches, post snippets from the entertainment, and shout-out the items attendees listed as their favorites from the show. Also, deliver follow-up surveys during this time. (The sooner you send the surveys, the better. We’re talking hours as opposed to days or – shudder – weeks.)
Three Months After the Event
This is the slow time between events when it is critically important that you find ways to maintain buzz.
It’s a great time to create and post those blogs solidifying your position as a thought leader (since there is likely no news about the event, you will need these additional topics to generate interest). If you find that you are running low on items, post some interviews with anyone who would be relevant to your audience, for example industry CEOs or speakers from past (or next year’s) events.
Midway Between Events
You have likely made some traction on the upcoming event by this point, so that means it’s time to boast about your plans. Any time you secure a significant speaker or book a performer, be sure to notify the public.
Sending out “Save the Date” notifications or alerts when tickets will go on sale will also be effective. Your goal is to create a steady stream of announcements and information.
Three Months Before the Event
This is the time for a big push. With the event just months away, it is time to put all of your marketing momentum behind converting “maybes” into “yeses.”
Ramp up your social media efforts, create email marketing operations, and organize retargeting efforts. Promote what made last year’s event great and how it will be topped this year. Don’t forget to push any promotions as well as deadlines, like the end of early bird registration.
By keeping the conversation about your event active throughout the year, you have the opportunity to create a community around your activation with attendees who return year after year.
If you have questions or would like some assistance crafting the conversation around your event, we’re happy to help. Please give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.