David Epstein, content marketing manager at Bizzabo, shares his top marketing strategies used by event planners and event marketers.
Marketing an event is a full-time job in itself, but it’s often the case that event organisers find themselves managing some or all of the marketing strategies related to an event as well.
All too often this results in hurried marketing campaigns that rely on outdated notions of what works and what doesn’t in order to attract attendees and build an event brand.
In the Event Professionals Of Tomorrow Survey, involving nearly 500 respondents, Bizzabo found that 69 per cent of planners rely on word of mouth marketing to promote their event, despite the fact that many realise that other methods are actually more effective.
How to use digital advertising to build buzz
By now you’ve seen thousands of online ads, the most common of which are called PPC or ‘pay per click’ ads often displayed when conducting searches on platforms like Bing or Google.
Given that online ad spend is projected to grow to over US$135bn in the next year, according to Forbes, it should come as no surprise that a popular and effective way to promote your next event is with online PPC ads.
To get started, organisers must first determine the keywords potential attendees are searching in order to discover interesting events to attend.
If you’re planning a conference on digital marketing, then a good key term to target might be ‘event marketing conferences’. In order to determine the best keywords to target, it’s important that you put yourself in the shoes of an event attendee. Most likely they are searching for the ‘best’ conference in the category in a location that is convenient for them.
The cost per click can vary greatly. Some keywords cost less than £1, while others can cost upwards of £21. As a way of getting started with limited risk, organisers should consider running a PPC campaign that lasts a few weeks and that has a maximum budget that fits well within the overall marketing budget.
Don’t be intimidated by what might seem like technical online ad platforms. With some patience and trial and error, online paid ads can be mastered, making them
a valuable resource for event marketers hoping to quickly generate event buzz.
Secrets to building communities that lengthen the life of an event
Even when organisers create an event networking community online or on an app, the typical life of an event is short lived.
Most attendees log into these communities a few weeks in advance (at most) and soon after an event has finished, attendees forget about the contacts they made and the content they saw.
For organisers to build an event brand that has real staying power, it’s important to create an event community that can last year-round.
Look at some of the great events today: the Sales Hacker conferences, Hubspot’s Inbound Conference, Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World, and many others. All of these events feature thriving networking communities that are used by attendees and potential attendees throughout the year.
In order for organisers to build a similarly thriving community, they must first shift their mindset. Instead of planning an event, organizers should imagine they’re building a private network.
Members of this network should be able to connect with industry experts, consume awesome content, and share their insights with other members. This means that the live event is one part of a larger community building strategy that organisers launch and control.
To implement an ambitious plan like this, organisers first need an event networking platform. LinkedIn or Facebook groups might work; alternatively, there are some event planning software platforms that offer great tools as well.
Then they must create or at least share content related to both the group and to the event in these communities.
Interviews with keynote speakers, blog posts written by influential attendees, or video hangouts with knowledgeable sponsors are all great examples of content that should be shared in networking groups. Content helps to spark conversations, while educating members.
Building an event brand
There are many components to building an event brand that attendees revere. Part of building a successful brand is consistency. Creating a brand image and repeatedly conveying it in all marketing materials, from colours, to logo, to font and to the way the event communicates with attendees – these are all key components of designing a compelling event brand.
An additional component is providing customers with lasting value, and if organisers are already working on building robust event networking communities, they’re ahead of the game.