16 week promotion plan for your trade event
“If you build it, They will come!” is a famous quote from 1989 film called “Field of Dreams”. Later on it is adopted in business setting and often means, if you build something, people will buy it. But in today’s time, it seems unrealistic. Before people come and spread word of mouth, we have to go out and market our products.
Trade shows and exhibitions are not separate from it. Organizers and event marketers have to put lot of efforts to bring visitors to trade events. Day by day visitors are becoming very selective when it comes to visit a show, being an event marketer you have to keep visitors well informed in advance so they can add your show in their schedule. Last moment marketing doesn’t work now.
To organize a successful event you need to develop marketing plan long before you launch it. With many years of experience working in trade show industry, I have prepared a 16 weeks marketing strategy for events which drives results if implemented properly. Following is the list of elements to use in marketing plan.
Pre-event Landing PagE
As you decide to launch an event, create a pre-event landing page for it. This will be a central page for your promotion activities. Keep it brief and informative, so visitors can easily make out what is there for them. Interested visitors would love to get informed about future activities, so don’t forget to add email capture form on landing page.
The next task in your pre-event marketing strategy is to tell people why you’re organizing it and blog posts are the best medium to share your thoughts. Prepare a series of posts well in advance and put it in editorial calendar and publish post time by time. Two posts per week are sufficient if you are starting it early.
Getting on social media early is important to create momentum for your event promotion, building a community and spreading the idea you’ve written in your blog posts. There are many social media platforms available today, so you have to choose the best platforms for your event. If it is a B2B event, go for LinkedIn and Twitter. For consumer shows Facebook and Twitter can work. If you are organizing a fashion or kids event go for Instagram and Facebook. Likewise you can select one or two platforms and build your community.
Event marketing partnerships can be crucial to your even’t success. You need to start reaching out to potential collaborators, complimentary brands and media partners. You can save lot of money in event promotion if you have good partners. Identify complimentary brands who would like to promote them during the event and ask them to help you in event promotion. In return you can offer them space in exhibition or time slot in conference to compensate it. Same goes with media partners, you offer them space or time and they give you coverage in magazine and up-coming newsletters, articles they publish.
Emails are nearly 40 year old and still voted the single most effective tactic by event organizers, so it will no doubt be central to your campaign and space sales too. In my career as sales manager for exhibitions, I generated more than 50% of sales through emails. Keep your potential audience informed and engage through emails.
Press coverage is highly important for events in reputation building and attracting audience. Prepare a press release kit and send it to all relevant reporters and submit it to all free PR portals. If you have budget go for paid PR portals, they surely drive good audience.
You need to reach to new audience to find new attendees. The best to do this is through guest posting or creating pieces of thought leadership that others will be happy to share. A great example of success through guest posts is Buffer. In initial phase of Buffer, co-founder Leo Widrich wrote more than 100 guest posts in 6 months. This non-stop guest posting leads to 100,000 users for Buffer. Guest posting is a great way to develop relationships with like minded people, which is worth more than anything else.
Early Bird Discounts
For paid events, early bird discounts works by staggering your ticket sales to go up in price the closer to the event it gets. It’s not uncommon to have more than one of these events. For example, GrowthHackers.com started early bird offer for 2018 conference.
As you are getting closer to the event, it is advisable to go for paid promotion. By this time you come to know from where maximum traffic is coming to your landing page, start paid promotion through that source. For example, If Facebook is driving more traffic than any other social medium, go for Facebook Ads. In general you can opt for Google Adwords and choose PPC (pay per click) model.
Why not reach out to your existing attendees and incentivise them to promote your event on your behalf? You can even offer them referral fees if they become an affiliate.
If you’re looking to fill a few last minute places or get word out in an impact full way, then influencers could be your best shots. But these people should be contacted in early stage of event promotion so they can get time to look into it. These are busy people and if you contact them at last probably they won’t be able to help you. It’s not that, they don’t want to but due to lack of time they won’t be able to help you. So please keep this in mind to contact them as early as possible.
It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but it’s much harder to ignore a phone call than an email or one of the thousands tweets in their timeline. Last few days before event, you and your team should call to potential audience, who opted in early stage but didn’t finalize participation so far. It is no harm to contact them via phone as event is closer and you want to get a final confirmation whether they are participating or not.
If you take these suggestions above as a road map to help shape your event marketing strategy, you will be in a much stronger position to build momentum and ultimately achieve success for your event. To help you more, I prepared a template in spreadsheet which you can save and utilize for your event marketing planning.
Kindly share it with your friends and colleagues in event industry, so they can also get benefited.
Sushil for Growth Marketers