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Marketing Your Business Event

Marketing your business event? Here’s how to ensure you reach the RIGHT people

Big business event coming up? Or maybe just a small one? Either way, if you want your event to really make an impact, you have to market it to the max.

This doesn’t mean grabbing your bell, playing the town crier and shouting till your voice is hoarse! It means taking a sophisticated approach to modern marketing and allowing the event itself, and the latest tools, to do the hard work for you.

Whether you’ve just got going with a start-up or are a seasoned entrepreneur or marketer, these tips will help you to reach the right people, achieve a great turnout and keep everyone talking about your event long after the last guest has gone home.

Contents

1. Planning and how to create a buzz

  • Location, location, location

  • Sponsorship – a no-brainer!

  • Influential figures and VIPs

  • Make full use of social media

2. During the event – what to do as the event unfolds

  • Live social media posts

  • How to live stream

3. After the event – don’t miss this golden marketing opportunity!

  • Email your guests

  • Get those testimonials!

 

Planning the event and how to create a buzz

It all starts with planning. Take your time and get this part right.

Location, location, location

Before the cameras start rolling on a movie, the location scouts have been hard at work for months finding the perfect settings to make the film pop. Business events aren’t always Hollywood, but you should still think like a location scout.

Of course, your budget is always a consideration, but a good venue doesn’t have to be expensive. Always go for somewhere as unique and memorable as possible so that it stands out and attracts attention in its own right.

The venue list for this UK Gin and Rum festival (effectively a touring expo for a group of artisan gin and rum producers) includes a race course, a cathedral, a warehouse, a museum and a pavilion! The one conference centre on the list soon starts to look very dull in comparison!

While the essential set-up here is unlikely to vary much (ten to twenty stands with free gin and rum samples, a food stall and a couple of bars for purchasing the drinks) the exciting venues add something really special and do a lot for ticket sales.

Sponsorship – a no-brainer!

Sponsorship works well for all parties. While your event gets a nice lift by being connected to some businesses and brands that people have heard of, the sponsors, in turn, get to extend their reach by having their name and logo exposed to your customers or network.

As renowned business psychologist Robert Cialdini tells us, we all respond to the small things in our environment in a big way. (Quick video explaining some of Cialdini’s insights here.) If we hear canned laughter in a sit-com we tend to laugh more and if we see that a brand we are familiar with is involved with an event then we tend to respond positively.

Influential figures and VIPs

An extension of Robert Cialdini’s thinking tells us this important point: an event will benefit if there are respected figures from your industry, or VIPs, in attendance. It might sound horribly shallow, but the fact is that as human beings we place a higher value on an event if someone with high status is due to be attending.

Apart from the crafty psychology behind this tactic, there’s an added benefit: anyone who has a following on social media can extend your marketing by posting about the event on their own channel or account. Speaking of which…

Make full use of social media

Social media is, of course, an incredibly important tool for marketing today. While the traditional methods such as sending out press-releases and picking up the phone are still effective, using social media is now critical.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all free to use and don’t require a creative genius to get results. Ordinary photographs and straight-forward, friendly comments work very well. Have you seen Tesco’s Twitter account lately, for example? As one of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK, you might expect a formal approach. Far from it! Tesco’s tweets are really conversational and have a personal feel to them. A recent example: “It’s Saturday night! Who’s enjoyed a refreshing cocktail this evening? Tell us your favourite!”

Using all the most popular forms of social media to frequently communicate about your event is a great way to build engagement. Post at the right times and you’ll increase your chance of benefitting from the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth: shares and re-tweets. Start the posts well in advance of the event itself and continue during the event…

 

During the event – what to do as the event unfolds

Don’t overlook the importance of live marketing. You need to take full advantage of social media to make sure your event comes across as an experience that people will remember.

Live social media posts

Nothing creates a buzz like a buzz. That’s not a typo – there really is something circular about the way we respond to anticipation. Emotional contagion is the term used to describe what happens when someone else’s stress makes you stressed, or when someone’s excitement makes you excited.

Well, you need to tap into this feature of human behaviour to create a buzz around your event. If you say something is really exciting, then it becomes really exciting. If you’re calm and slightly indifferent, other people will be too.

One of the best tools to encourage this is the hashtag. Come up with a simple, easy-to-use hashtag for your event. If you were creating one for this blog it might be something like #soinspired. Always check that it isn’t already in use for something else and then get the process started. It only takes one or two posts and then everything begins to snowball.

How to live stream

This option is not for the camera-shy! A live stream on social media is a great tactic to reach out to people, build excitement and even encourage a little FOMO to work in your favour!

There are many ways to do this. You may like to model your stream on a TV news set-up and grab guests for a vox pop. You may like to do formal interviews with speakers at your event or showcase some of the more eye-catching features of the day. Then again, you may prefer a very informal approach with one of the team giving a quick tour of the venue and answering a few quick questions.

It doesn’t matter too much how exactly you structure it because, in fact, the presence of live content is what really matters. Shown throughout the day, it forms a bridge between the event and everyone not there. It also gets the online world talking.

 

After the event

Businesses often make the mistake of thinking that once an event has finished the marketing stops. However, if you overlook your post-event marketing, you’re missing out on a brilliant opportunity.

Email your guests

In addition to all the social media tactics already mentioned, emailing participants a few days after the event is an effective approach. Requesting email addresses as part of the registration or ticket purchasing process is a classic way to acquire addresses.

Your post-event email should not come across as spam, which may irritate guests who have had a good or productive time at the event. Rather, it should politely thank guests and give them information on, say, best-selling items from the event (with the opportunity to purchase them by clicking a link).

Get those testimonials!

People trust people – you can always tell the difference between a crummy actor and a real person. Get testimonials from your guests, whether in video form, in writing or as photos with short captions. These can be posted online to continue the excitement about your event on social media.

They can also be used to promote any events you may run in the future. Remember that the better the reputation of your events becomes, the easier they are to market.

Marketme

Marketme

Marketme is a leading small business to small business news, marketing advice and product review website. Supporting business across the UK with sponsored article submissions and promotions to a community of over 50,000 on Twitter.

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