New year, new goals. But in order to achieve them, you've got to be specific about what you want. Here's how to make sh*t happen...
If you’ve ever run events, you know that no matter how amazing they are in theory, they rarely simply “sell themselves” (annoying, right?).
To sell tickets, you need to be armed with an event marketing strategy that effectively promotes your event to your target audience. So, basically, getting said audience’s eyeballs on your gig… and then making sure they buy tickets to said gig.
But first, let’s chat about what event marketing actually is…
Event marketing, in a nutshell, involves launching an event idea, ensuring “bums on seats” (ticket sales), then persuading attendees to invite their friends or colleagues and attracting a steady pipeline of leads through channels such as email marketing, blogging and advertising.
According to Reabetswe, event marketing strategy is all about raising awareness of your event. You want to direct potential attendees and previous attendees into the “awareness” stage of your marketing funnel so that you can inform and advise them as they make the journey towards buying a ticket.
A few helpful tools for you to consider…
1. Early bird discount(s)
Once you’ve gone past the initial launch excitement, you’ll need to engineer more reasons to encourage people to register (and register now rather than later). This where the “early bird discount” comes in.
Early bird discounts work by staggering your tickets so they go up in price the closer you get to the event – and it’s not uncommon to have more than one of these specials. The rest of your marketing activity should be geared towards building up interest and leads in the run-up to the expiry of your discounts. The result: ticket sales spikes!
2. Pre-event page
Too many people forget they can create an event page on Facebook to capture early interest, even if all of the details aren’t finalised. The point: You have a central page to drive people to, which also acts as a strong reminder in the build-up to the event.
3. Social media
Getting on social media early is important to creating momentum for your event promotion, building a community and spreading the word (use it to link back to your posts!). At this stage, you should already have an event hashtag sorted. Tip: Use relevant influencers to drive home the messaging your target audience.
4. Partner outreach
Reach out to potential collaborators, complementary brands and media partners early – before your event has officially launched. They’ll help you spread the word from the very beginning.
5. Event press release
Press coverage can help to amplify your event beyond your own network and increase ticket sales. It will also help to build your future brand strategy and increase links to your website (and traffic for future events too).
Now for the actual process: how to manage event promotion…
1/ Create a hashtag and promote it
A specialised event hashtag can enhance social buzz, increase participation and even boost attendance. When creating your hashtag, try to keep it relevant, unique, short and sweet. Sounds simple, but don’t forget – not everything sounds good as a hashtag.
Here’s an example of what not to do… Susan Boyle’s album release party used the hashtag #susanalbumparty. Say no more.
Your hashtag means nothing if you don’t use it! Promote it everywhere, including your event website, dedicated emails, social networks and on the event’s mobile app.
The hashtag is also a great way for your attendees to engage with the event’s content, speakers and each other. You’ll be able to watch what’s trending around your event in real-time and get relevant feedback in the process.
2/ Start early
The earlier you start promoting your event and your event hashtag, the higher your chances of success. Promoting early creates momentum and helps you reach a larger audience. Start promoting the event at least six to eight weeks in advance to ensure a wider reach. This also helps potential attendees to clear out their schedules and make travel arrangements if necessary.
3/ Your guest speakers should be your event advocates
Your guest speakers will have a network of their own, and some of them could well be influencers in their own industry! Having more people at the event means more people will get to hear the awesome stuff they have to share. So ask them to tweet about or share the event on their social channels. Make it frictionless for them by creating easily shareable content assets ahead of time.
4/ Invest in content creation
Before you kick off your event promotion, make sure you have all the required assets to get more mileage out of said promotion. Start by creating cover images for your social media profile pages. (Note: Image sizes vary depending on the social network.)
NB hacks: how to handle last-minute or unexpected setbacks before and during an event
1. Set aside some “last-minute cash” in your budget
Make sure there’s a line item somewhere in your budget for emergency expenditures. This is a broad category that leaves you cash for last-minute expenses.
2. Build some extra time into your schedule
Your event starts at 5pm and you know it takes three hours to set up space. What time should you start preparing? The day before! By the time the event day rolls around, you should have everything prepared and ready to go, even for the smallest events. Major events could take weeks to set up, especially if you have thousands of attendees and structures or props to build.
Don’t let yourself get caught unfolding tables or hanging signs as guests start lining up at registration. Anything you know you’ll have to do should be done well in advance.
3. Delegate to people and give them autonomy
It’s tempting to micromanage your team to make sure they put your event together properly, but that’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy. Instead of doling out tasks, put people in charge of projects, give them instructions all at once, and leave them to it. If you’ve planned everything thoroughly, they should be able to build your vision with the help of your event brief.
4. Enlist as much help as you need
A sure way to create last-minute problems is to try to put an event together without the right number of staff. You’ll just burn everyone out. Or worse, fail to set up in time.
Having extra people on site — even if they only stick around for set-up — will ensure you have enough hands to manage last-minute problems. Yes, hiring more people will inflate your event budget, but charging more for the event is better than throwing a poor one.
5. Create checklist templates to help you track everything
When an event is about to start and you have a million things running through your head, it can be difficult (frankly, impossible?!) to remember everything. Did the caterer bring cocktail forks? Did someone double-check the dais supports? Is there cash for change at the registration desk?
Instead, create checklists to help you remember everything. For instance, you might create a tech checklist to make sure you have working devices in all the right locations. You can run through the list quickly or delegate someone else to do it for you. These resources are useful because they’re applicable to all your events. Create them once, then make slight modifications for each event. Easy. Now lights, camera and… action!