Promoting Your Event is Half the Battle
Are you looking for a great way to grow your audience and build awareness and community? I’m Suzanne McDonald with Angles and Insights Marketing Consultancy. Say you’re hosting an event, whether it’s a fundraiser, a free talk, or a networking night. Here are the tips and tools that I’ve honed over hosting 70-plus networking and other events.
Have your event completely outlined: the type of event, the goals, the venue, and all these details. That’s half the battle. The other half is the task of promoting the event and making sure everyone knows about it. In seven-plus years of doing events for Newport Interactive Marketers, I have picked up a few tips. In fact, we have a road map of key components that really will help make your event successful. We’ve done so many of them that an intern typically manages the whole promotions process.
Make Registration Easy
First of all you want to make sure that it’s easy for people to register, to pay, to be able to email them, and to track those emails. And one good tool to do that is Eventbrite. Eventbrite is a great tool because it helps make sure that your event is set up properly, whether it’s your venue or some time and information details, but you also want to make sure that you don’t just stop there. You want to make sure that you’re embedding the information from Eventbrite into your website. You want your website to come first. Another reason why Eventbrite is really helpful is because you now have a comprehensive database of your contacts. You can sync those contacts with MailChimp or a CRM, and you can export them.
Share Your Event on Social Media
Eventbrite also makes it easy for you to share your event on social media, whether it’s through Twitter or LinkedIn. You can do LinkedIn updates, you can share to groups, and you can send direct messages to members on LinkedIn to make sure that they know all about your event.
Now when it comes to promoting your events, you also want to think about other organizations with aligned interests, such as MeetUp.com groups, your local chamber of commerce, PRSA, and different organizations who also would be interested in the same content. Many times they’re more than happy to help share your event.
Use Local Media
When it comes to promoting your event, you can’t forget about local media. A lot of times when you’re online, you’re looking for something and you’re looking everywhere. When it comes to a local event, it’s so much easier to just flip open the paper and look at the events column. The trick to engaging local media is to make sure they actually see it. Local papers get tons and tons of event announcements, PR, and press releases, so you want to make sure that you’re using your email service provider.
Rather than using Gmail or a Yahoo! account, you want to use MailChimp or Constant Contact. They are going to actually show you which email addresses opened and which clicked. That’s really important to know because then you know which newspaper outlet or media outlets actually open your emails and know about your events. If they don’t ever see the email, they’re never going to publish your event, and that’s not helping your promotion efforts.
Generate Pre-Event Buzz
Let’s say you want to have some pre-event buzz. You could set up a poll or some questions right within Eventbrite. You could also set up a survey using Survey Monkey. You could even set up a petition using tools like MoveOn.org petitions or Change.org.
Remember, when it comes to social media, very often a hashtag can be super helpful. A hashtag, or the pound sign, can be really good for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It creates a common stream. You choose a distinct set of letters or numbers. For example, for Newport Interactive Marketers, we use the hashtag NIMRI. Pretty much nobody else uses it. Other people started using NIM, so we had to change it. And now all of our community knows, whether they can make it to an event or not, that they can look on Twitter with the hashtag NIMRI and see what all the people at the event are saying about the event.
Document the Event While It’s Happening
It can also be helpful, and a lot of times this happens, that people will say they’re going to the event on social media. They’ll tweet that out and then maybe mention other people who maybe missed the reminder or all of a sudden realized, “Oh hey, I’ve been meaning to connect with that person.” A hashtag is also extremely helpful at the event. You want to make sure that you’re documenting it on Twitter and Instagram and other social media channels. For example, you want to be taking pictures of key speakers, of people having fun, and of your great venue.
You also want to think about your sponsors if you’re hosting a fundraiser. Now a quick tip is to make sure that you have those handles and those signifiers so that you can easily tag your sponsors. If you’re taking a picture of a gift basket that was sponsored, then you can tag whoever donated the gift basket. Put it on Twitter and Facebook. Tag them. Boom. Easy.
Thank the Attendees Afterward
After your event has happened, make sure that you thank everyone for attending the event. This reinforces the positive feelings that people have. The wonderful thing about events that social media and all these other technologies cannot match is human interaction. Enhance and continue that feeling by sending a thank-you. Bring back those emotions as positive feelings with a warm thank-you. Even if they don’t read the email and they just read the subject line, it brings that trigger.
Promote Future Events with Your Thank-You Email
You also want to think about connecting with the people who couldn’t go to the event. Maybe they just had a baby. Maybe they were sick; maybe their child was sick. Let them know what the event was like and remind them that you do have other events coming up and they do want to stay in the loop. If you already have an event scheduled, you can announce a save-the-date, or you can use a tool like Eventbrite. Have that set up and embed that information right into your email thank-you or email announcement.