How To Use Event Marketing To Attract Prospects and Increase Sales

A successful event starts with an understanding of a buyer persona and continues through a targeted marketing campaign

A successful event starts with an understanding of a buyer persona and continues through a targeted marketing campaign

Informative well planned events are an effective sales and marketing tool. Events are in demand. Unfortunately, they're also often disappointing. A survey conducted by HubSpot and Eventbrite revealed that, while 84 percent of respondents felt that attending events was essential to their jobs, and 79 percent attend events to learn something specific, more than one-third of all attendees were disappointed by the event they chose to attend.

If you're a business owner looking to use events to grow your lead pool, you need to make sure that the event you invest in generates high-quality leads. A critical part of that is making sure that attendees show up and that they enjoy the experience. A 2014 event explaining the benefits of geothermal heating and cooling to residential homeowners generated 15 solid leads and a sale. For less than $400 and three hours of the time, my client produced a positive ROI and greater awareness of our services locally and online.  

One of the lingering problems in event marketing is a lack of work on the organizer's part to define a particular attendee persona. Nearly half of all organizers don't have a well-defined buyer persona, meaning that they're marketing their event to a faceless consumer—a complete waste of valuable marketing resources. In practice, this has meant that a slight majority (51 percent) of event organizers have been unable to increase attendance.

A successful event starts with an understanding of a buyer persona and continues through a targeted marketing campaign leading up to the big day. We've taken the time to distil some of the best ideas for event marketing that will help you attract prospects and grow your business.

Find Your Audiences Persona and Get In Touch In a Meaningful Way

The first step in successful event marketing is figuring out who is your ideal attendee. You need to get inside the head of your buyer persona and think about their struggles, pain points, goals, knowledge gaps—all the things that would motivate them to attend your event.

Additionally, you need to understand how that persona consumes information. You'll develop your event marketing content based on the most favorite channel or channels your buyer persona would check to find out where he or she could attend an informative and engaging event.

One option is a press release to announce your event and the planned topics for attendees. Be able to provide a list of the main speakers and explain the proposed value to clients. If you have a strong presence in the blogosphere, this may be the best way to deploy information about your event. (It's not an either-or situation; you could and should put out information over multiple channels.)

Multimedia options include video marketing and images or infographics. If this isn't the first year you've hosted your event, a compilation of highlights from a previous year or years is an excellent way to give potential attendees a taste of what they can expect. You can embed the video on your website and also post it on YouTube. If this will be the first year of your event, see if you can interview scheduled speakers to get previews of their topics and generate interest about the upcoming get-together.

Images and infographics can both provide information and create striking advertisements to catch the eye of potential attendees. Images are excellent options for postings to social media—adding yet another channel to your marketing campaign—and allow you to combine the power of a picture with a few words or phrases about your conference.

Marketing tools like HubSpot offer a variety of templates for images and infographics, as well as press releases, so you don't need to design everything from scratch.

 It's Event Marketing, Promote, Promote, Promote

There's a reason we repeated ourselves: You need to promote your event multiple times on multiple channels. Creating content is only half the battle; promoting it—again and again—is the second half. Your first thoughts might go to an email promotion, and email is still an effective promotional tool when used properly. The key is to create tailored, targeted emails that grab the interest of your ideal attendee, not generic, blanket emails that are likely to fall short regardless of who receives them.

The best case scenario is to create a compelling email that will generate a user click-through to take recipients to a landing page where they can learn more or even sign up to attend. From the subject line to the call to action, everything should focus on your upcoming event. Make sure to include social links in your email, so motivated attendees can share their pending attendance with others who may be interested.

For Eventbrite users, you can send personalized invitations to potential attendees in your contact list and also schedule regular reminders. With Eventbrite metrics, you can see how many invitations are being opened (and by whom) as well as the number of click-throughs that result from your campaign.

Social media is another place to engage with potential attendees. Don't just rely on text, however. Images are one of the most powerful influencers in social media, and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest all offer easy ways for you to deploy your image-rich content to social media sites.

As with email, Eventbrite provides the opportunity to connect with potential attendees through your social media accounts.The Eventbrite Social Stream feature helps you integrate all of your social media accounts and draw attention to your collective social media effort. You can also establish affiliate programs that encourage your closest followers to help you spread the word. There are few things more powerful in marketing than the buzz generated by word of mouth.

Your blog and website are other ready options for promotion. You can include a call to action at the end of your blog posts or throughout your website. You can even add them to your email signature line or at the conclusion of any videos you host. Add calls to action anywhere it makes sense, but don't go overboard. A call to action in an unwarranted place—or in extreme density—can smack of desperation.

If you're already well known or well-supported financially, there are a couple of other prime options. For one, you can get in touch with the major influencers in your field and see if they'll share your event with their email list or social media followers. Be prepared to engage in a little bit of flattery, including the possibility of offering them a VIP experience at your event, or a speaking position. Paid distribution is a useful option for the well-financed, especially if you're trying to reach out to a narrow audience.

Make It Easy To Sign Up to your Event and Share the News

Generating interest with great content and widespread promotion intends to bring potential attendees to a decision point—the sign-up. Signing up for your event should be clear and easy. Think of your sign-up process in the same way you would think of any other conversion point. You need a strong call to action on a dedicated landing page.

A well-designed landing page follows similar rules regardless of the goal. Use (sparingly) striking images that drive home the point without cluttering your page or slowing down the page load speed. Focus on one or two images that connect with the experience your potential attendees want to have. A color is as important as your copy, but no single color is more important than another. The key is contrast. You want your call to action to pop from the page to keep visitor attention focused on the goal of conversion.

Any relevant information you need to provide should be clearly and succinctly communicated with titles, heads, and subheads, as well as bullet points. Use bold or italicized text to emphasise key details. If relevant details would result in a cluttered landing page, add a link for FAQs that can provide, all the information potential attendees may need without damaging the impact of your dedicated landing page. Also, be sure to include easy access to contact information so that potential attendees feel confident about their choice—they have someone to get in touch with if something goes amiss.

Build Momentum and Encourage Attendance with Email Outreach

Getting the sign-up from potential attendees is a significant achievement, but it's no time to sit back and wait for the event to occur. After registration, stay in touch with potential attendees by reminding them of the event and encouraging their attendance in the days and weeks (or even months) to come.

Immediately after sign-up, send out an automated email that confirms their decision. This is a great time to include any relevant information about your event, as attendees likely will keep your confirmation email as a reference point for when the conference draws near. It also provides you another opportunity to include your FAQ section in the body of the email or as a link to your site.

If your event requires a ticket, make sure the details of that ticket are clearly described as part of the title of the ticket. Often, multi-day events may offer tickets for single days or the entire event. Ensuring that attendees know what their ticket entitles them to is an essential part of creating a pleasant experience for them. If there are any question upon arrival, adding that information to the title of the ticket guarantees that it will serve as an accessible point of reference on any version of it, whether digital or print.

Nobody Attends a Bad Event Twice

Let's face it, no promotion will rescue a poor event. But there are plenty of great events out there that struggle to succeed because attendance is poor due to a lack of event marketing. To ensure that your event doesn't look like a ghost town, you'll need to start by creating marketing content—from exciting press releases and blog posts to brilliant images and videos. Making your event valuable to the recipient demands dedication to promotion on all marketing channels, including email, social media, blogs, and your website.

After you win over attendees, turning them from potentials into actuals, remember to stay in touch in the time leading up to the event. This will pay dividends both in attendance and in growing and managing expectations.

If you're able to execute these steps, you'll get to savor the fruits of your work. A great event, while it may last only a few days, is the culmination of a process. Take advantage of the ways that digital marketing can ensure the success of your next event and, as a result, grow your business.


About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems.

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