Getting people to turn up to your events is tough. I know. Very few events and certainly none of the ones I have worked on have ever ‘sold themselves’. Persuading somebody to part with the cash or just to register requires tenacity, creativity and determination. You simply can’t bash out a few circular emails and think it will work. A structured, detailed and thorough event promotion plan is a necessity.
Here’s a truism:
Great event, poorly promoted = certain failure
Your event may be the next big thing but, if your event promotion misses the mark, your event will fail. The aim of all your promotional activities must be to draw people to your event: to excite them to buy, enquire, email, talk to you, sign up, purchase tickets or to register interest.
It is important to use a combination of great words, visuals and sharing facilities. Don’t forget that people are the ones who make all the decisions, so make sure your promotional content reflects this fact – be human and appeal to people’s emotional sensibilities.
Every event must have a promotional plan. Depending on the size or importance of your event, the plan may be quite a simple affair with few activities or something that contains multiple activities and preparatory tasks.
Here are eight stages you must consider when putting an event promotional plan together:
- Set some objectives. What is the purpose of your event promotional plan?
- Do an audit of what promotional media you already have or can access. It would also be wise to conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis (SWOT) at this stage – so you know where to plug any gaps in knowledge.
- Decide who your audience is. Where do you find them? What are the voices in their head saying? What problems do they have?
- Create the content and key messages. Clearly your promotional material and content needs to be speaking to your audience. It needs to make compelling reading.
- Select what media (on /off line) you are going to use, then cost it. Your choice of media is determined by whatever your target audience typically uses. The amount of money you need to spend promoting your event depends on the size of the risk – big budget event (big risk) requires a big promotions budget.
- Continually test, check and review your content and the plan. Run split tests to see which campaign (subject line) headline has the greatest traction. And be ready to make all necessary changes quickly and deviate from the plan, if a better opportunity arises.
- Implement the plan. Run it to time and create continuous urgency. Delays in getting the word out can be very costly.
- Monitor each part of the promotional plan to determine what is working: namely delivering people, sign-ups and enquiries.
It is also wise too note…
- When promoting to an existing list of subscribers or members, you still have to be persistent. Very few of us actually sign up straightaway and we will need persuading, so offer great incentives. Most of us need three to seven “touches” before we do anything. Some need a lot more
- Your promotional plan needs time to succeed. We are all busy people with hectic lives, who need time to plan any event visits. I would recommend a 12-week lead-in time.
- Keep building your list of subscribers, fans or audience database. The more prospects you have on your list the more people you can market your events to.
- If you know your audience uses social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it might be beneficial for you to do the same. However, it might be a good idea to take expert advice before running a social media campaign
- It is important to think beyond a company’s own customers in order to draw a larger audience – think about with whom you can collaborate. Can you create a joint venture with a non-competing partner? (Support from them usually means getting access to their list, which adds legitimacy and reach to your promotional activities.)
- VIP lists. Consider if there are any industry or thought leaders you really do want to attend your event Invite and send them complimentary passes. Their presence will provide kudos and may encourage others to sign up.
- Be realistic, not optimistic, about numbers
Chris Powell, The Event Expert
The Event Expert specialises in helping accidental and occasional event planners develop the skills and confidence to design, programme, promote and deliver their own exceptional events. I deliver In-house event management courses and coaching programmes and books covering all types of public and business events.