The first in a series on best practice in event marketing. Event Insurance Services shares its event marketing toolkit, starting with pre event promotion. Read on and make sure your event gets noticed by the right people in the right places!
According to the recent Event Industry Report by Eventbrite, 77% of event organisers in the past year had a dedicated budget for promoting their event, with the average budget increasing year on year by 13% to £4,914. With this much money being spent on event promotion, it’s important that you use the most effective strategies to ensure a valuable return on investment
The report also revealed that 53% of event organisers use three to four different marketing channels when promoting their event, with a further 32% using over five. It’s clear that the more marketing channels you use, the further the reach of your event promotion.
While there are no set rules for promoting your event, there certainly are some best practices which will ensure you are on the right track. The key to success is to be organised well in advance so that you can start promoting as early as possible. But event promotion doesn’t stop when the day of the event arrives. You want as many people as possible to be talking about it on the day, and it’s just as important to follow up with attendees afterwards to maximise your data and ensure future events are even more successful.
If you want a decent turnout to your event you need to invest time and money into your pre-event promotion. As soon as you have decided you will be hosting an event, it’s time to start trickling information to your audience to get them excited. You’ll want to assign an official budget to promotion, spend some time researching the best place to target your audience, whether that’s online, via print or at their local clubs, and think about which channels would best be used to target them.
If your company, business or organisation has its own website, this is a great place to start. If you want to invest in search engine optimisation (SEO) to encourage attendees to find you through the search engines such as Google, you’ll need to start optimising well in advance of your event. This is a great way to get more eyes on your event online. One SEO technique you can use is to publish blogs and other content about your event during the build up to the big day.
Another way to promote your event through your website is to use pay per click (PPC) advertising. This allows you to promote your event at the top of the search engines to people searching for topics relating to it. You will pay money every time someone clicks through to your website so make sure the page they land on is fully optimised to encourage the user to come!
No matter what the nature of your event, social media will be a critical tool for getting your message out there to the masses. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or one of the many other social media sites, your audience will probably be there. Developing a social media strategy will help you to promote your event in a highly responsive environment. Social media also offers the opportunity for paid advertising with some very specific targeting options. You can advertise to people of specific ages, genders, locations and interests through paid social advertising which can really improve your return on investment.
According to the 2017 Eventbrite Event Industry Report, email is ranked as the most effective marketing channel when promoting an event. For email to really work, you need to have your own database of people to email. These will be your ‘warm leads’ and should have a personalised email sent to each person (eg. including their name in the email). Personalisation can be automated with most email software.
To build your database, you will need to implement some sort of data capture strategy within your marketing. This should be an ongoing process and you can use several strategies to capture this data, including competitions, content downloads and using the data captured from previous event attendees. There is the option to buy an email list, however these ‘cold leads’ will be less responsive and they may interpret your email as spam.
Traditional marketing techniques
Of course, there are plenty of traditional marketing techniques which you might decide to use to better reach your audience. Print advertising or sponsored content in magazines and newspapers can be very successful, depending on the audience you are targeting. The success of this type of advertising can be harder to measure than online advertising but it’s important to grab your audience’s attention from all angles.
There is also the opportunity to promote your event via direct mail. This is quite an old-school approach and you must be careful not to post advertisements to people who have registered their wish not to receive unsolicited material by mail. You can purchase data from The Mailing Preference Service which will identify residents who do not want to receive direct mail. Other than direct mail, you can try leaving flyers at shops, clubs and other places used by the public to get your message out there further.
It is likely that you won’t be running your event completely alone. You may have guest speakers or entertainment playing at the event. You may be hiring equipment from external businesses or working with other organisations on content. This gives you a great avenue for promotion if you simply ask them to help spread the word about your event, whether that help is via a blog on their website or flyers in their shop.
You can also seek sponsorship, which will not only help lower the overall cost but will mean another organisation will be proactively promoting your event. Sponsorship gives you the opportunity to get it in front of a whole new audience and is mutually beneficial for you and the sponsor
To really spread the message of your event, you might want to consider creating a press release to send out to relevant publications and newspapers in your local area. When sending your press release to newspapers, try to have a newsworthy spin to encourage them to publish a story.
Many online news sites, especially local news sites, will have a section on their website where you can upload an event to their events calendar. This is free to do in most cases, and if you invest a small amount of time doing this you will be able to get your event out there to people within the relevant geographical areas.
Next up, we’ll look at marketing that can be done during an event. You are going to be busy, so the more preparation you can do beforehand the better – watch out for Part 2 of our Event Marketing Toolkit in the next issue!
To do list
- Decide on your promotion budget
- Audience research – where/how can you target them?
- Create your promotion plan (a Gantt Chart will help you to stay on track)
- Get any physical promotional branded materials created/printed
- Organise your partnerships/sponsorship and supply them with promotional materials
- Book any printed advertising
- Create your ‘event page’ on your website and publish it
- Write and schedule blogs surrounding your event
- Send out your first email invitation to your guest list – include links to your website event page
- Announce the details of your event on your social media channels
- Create a social media schedule so you are sending out updates and relevant information on your event often
- Set up and schedule paid social advertising
- If you are using flyers/posters send these out to consenting businesses
- Prepare and send out your press release to relevant publications
- Send out reminder emails to your guest list
About the Author
Established in 1996, Event Insurance Services is a specialised intermediary offering competitive event insurance. Its policies provide affordable, reliable insurance, tailored to fit the scale and style of the occasion – from school fêtes and small ceremonies to high profile weddings and events.
Event insurance is the safety net for anyone organising an event. It can cover a policy holder against public liability, employer’s liability, damage to event equipment, cancellation of events (including cancellations due to adverse weather conditions) and much more.
As well as the support of 2,500 insurance brokers throughout Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, Event Insurance Services also has a valued network of more than 1,000 UK venues, outlets and support services in the wedding and event industry. 01425 470360 / www.events-insurance.co.uk