Planning a successful event requires more than just organization–it demands strategic marketing along every step of the process. Whether it is an annual meeting, a recurring themed conference, joint meeting, or new event, you have to think about the marketing of it before you even choose your speakers.
How can you optimize the process? There are a few key ways to approach marketing that will help you get the best ROI on your event.
Perform Market Research on Your Audience
While it may go without saying, you need to know who your audience is. If you take the “market to everyone” approach within a certain industry, you will end up spending more time and money with fewer sign-ups and more touchpoints.
Many smaller organizations and institutions do not have robust marketing departments, but that doesn’t mean your organization can’t research who they need to be reaching out to. Market research on your past target audience–as well as the audiences you are trying to capture–will help you create better marketing materials to attract top speakers and attendees.
First, know the demographics of your audience (age, gender, etc.) and where they interact. Are you hosting a veterinary conference? You’re most likely to find very active vet groups on Facebook. Are you hoping to attract more millennial veterinarians to your conference? Then look at other platforms vets in that age bracket are using, such as TikTok where the #veterinarian has over 1.6 billion views.
Develop a Social Media Marketing Strategy that Converts
When it comes to social media, less is more. While it may seem like a good idea to join as many platforms as possible, it is impossible to manage them all well.
Depending on your organization’s focus and industry, it’s best to choose only two to three platforms. For instance, if you are in the medical industry, it probably makes sense to be active on Twitter and Facebook. If you are in the hospitality industry, it may be more advantageous to be on a visual platform such as Instagram.
Optimize your LinkedIn account
LinkedIn is a powerful platform to leverage your marketing. In fact, LinkedIn drives 64% of traffic to organizations’ websites.
Don’t have a LinkedIn profile for your organization? Create one and post any relevant content to your organization or event in your status. Be sure to link to blog posts and pages on your website to help drive traffic there. In addition, look for groups to join so that you can connect with people in your field.
Compared to Facebook, LinkedIn generates 277% more effective leads, so if you only can manage one platform, go all-in on your LinkedIn strategy.
Choose a venue with an active Facebook page
One very overlooked marketing strategy is simply choosing a venue that has strong marketing itself. Facebook, which has over 1.8 billion active users daily, is the best place to identify if the venue you choose has an active marketing team behind it. Facebook business pages with thousands of likes will keep your potential attendees interested and more likely to sign up for your event.
When vetting hotels and resorts, ask if you can cross-promote your event with event hashtags, tagging, stories, and posts. A hotel that is willing to promote your organization and event is a simple, cost-effective way to broaden your reach beyond your targeted marketing efforts.
Create event hashtags and conference social handles
Once you have your chosen platforms, be sure to create event-specific hashtags and conference handles in addition to the ones you’ve created for your organization. By creating event-specific social media content, you’ll make your event and organization more easily searchable online.
Use your social media hashtags and accounts to provide sneak peeks, giveaways, interview content, and more to get attendees excited for your conference.
Promote Your Event Before, During, and After
While you may think your marketing job is done on the first day of the conference, it’s only just begun. Successful events are promoted while they occur and long after they are over via email, social media, advertising, and more.
Pay attention to SEO
Not only is SEO critical to the success of your event, but it is also essential in its promotion long after your event ends. Some information that you need to be sure is optimized for SEO includes:
- Location or Venue
- Location or Venue address
- The Event Name
- Start Date
- End Date
- Location or Venue name
- Offers availability
- Offers price
Be sure that any images you post along with any written content is also properly tagged so that it appears in search.
Segment your email lists
No matter how large or intimate the gathering is, you need to identify different groups of stakeholders and participants in order to better target them and keep them engaged.
Email segmentation allows you to communicate different information to different groups of people without spamming them. For instance, your welcome email to your keynote speakers shouldn’t be the same as the one to your participants. By creating audience-specific messaging, you’ll like to see an increase in open rates and responses.
There are many email communications software tools on the market. However, an abstract management system that can collect and store information and content associated with your contacts will help to reduce the headache and complexity of managing all these communication channels.
Leverage the Networks of Your Sponsors and Speakers
Finally, make use of the networks of your sponsors and speakers by encouraging them to promote your event. Send them an email with the hashtags and social handles you are using, suggestions for content that they can post to their accounts, and incentives for them to drive traffic to your website and social channels.
Another great way for them to promote your event is by simply adding it to their email signatures. For example:
Senior Event Producer, PCA
Look for me at #Precis2021
You can also encourage them to share the URL to your event in their signatures as well as their social media posts.
There Is No Such Thing As Bad Marketing, Just Better Marketing
Ultimately, it takes some trial and error to learn what works best for your organization. Keep track of how emails, posts, and platforms perform. What posts got a lot of engagement? Which ones fell flat?
As you learn, you’ll be better able to market your events throughout the year. By using an abstract management system that integrates with the software platforms you currently use, you can better centralize the process and improve your marketing efforts year-round.