If you’ve tried event marketing before, you can probably relate to this: You pour your heart and soul into creating world-class events for your audience, only to have no one show up.
You’re great at what you do. You love what you do. You know that as soon as someone signs up for your events, they’re in great hands.
The only problem is… there are not enough people signing up. And you don’t know why.
Well, what if I told you, that by only implementing 7 core strategies, you can turn your event attendance from a slow, dripping tap of mildly interested prospects to a bursting fire hydrant of committed customers?
The Challenges Of Event Marketing Today
In today’s business world, it’s getting noisier and noisier in the marketplace.
Everywhere you go, there’s always a phone buzzing, a message notification on Facebook, a pop-up from an ad, cute cat videos, and tutorials on how to do something.
As a result, it’s also getting tougher and tougher to be noticed.
Event marketing has its own jungle of complications, and if you’re not careful, you can wind up lost. Or even worse – surprise attacked by a lion (in the form of ineffective strategy), that can shred your bank account into pieces.
I’ve personally tried over 50 event promotion ideas to advertise our events at Authentic Education. And over the last decade, I’ve only found 7 strategies that work consistently.
These 7 strategies have been responsible for generating our clients over $20 million in revenue, and helping us become a BRW Fast Starters Award Winner in 2013.
More importantly however, they can help you see through the fog and lay out a trail for you to navigate the event marketing jungle with ease.
7 Cost-Effective Event Marketing Strategies
#1. Facebook & Instagram Ads
Digital advertising is the fastest way to acquire new customers and comes in many forms such as Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads and Google Ads.
In our experience, what we’ve found to be most effective are Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, as they can be highly focused towards your target audience.
To demonstrate this idea, imagine your business as a restaurant. What’s the most important factor for running a successful business?
It’s not the food. It’s not how shiny the place looks. It’s the customers – They are the lifeblood of your business.
You don’t need the best food. You just need a hungry crowd.
And that’s exactly where Facebook and Instagram win the game – Helping you find your hungry crowd.
There are 3 ways you can do this:
a. Core Audience – Using the ‘rich data’ that Facebook stores (e.g. age, location, relationship status, education, behaviour etc.), you can specifically target the people that would be the best match for your event. For example, if you are running a speed dating event for single professionals aged 25-30, then you’d target that exact demographic.
b. Custom Audience – This is where you upload your existing database of prospects and customers (like an email list) on to Facebook, and you can market to the people who aren’t active with opening and reading your emails.
c. Lookalike Audience – This is where Facebook takes your custom audience and shows you all the people that look like your best customers. By doing this, you can expand your reach to people you normally wouldn't reach. For example, you might be based in Sydney, but now you can reach people similar to your current customers in Vancouver, Canada.
Once you’ve found your hungry crowd, it’s time to give them a taste of what your event will eventually offer. This is usually done through an ‘opt-in’ form, where you give away a free valuable resource (e.g. PDF report, video series etc.) in exchange for their email address.
NOTE: Sometimes, people think Facebook Ads are going to be expensive. While it does cost financially, the highly-targeted nature of Facebook Ads ensures you get a much higher and quicker return on investment than almost any other method.
#2. Speaking & LIVE Events
Live events can be a very effective marketing tool.
Because there’s no other marketing medium that exists out there, where you can have prolonged face-to-face time with prospects without any interruptions.
Just think about the last time you were at a live event of some sort listening to a speaker on stage – How likely were you to be distracted by technology compared to your time spent on an Internet-enabled computer?
Live events are the most lucrative marketing method (when you get it right). And in case you’re wondering – yes, you can use events to promote your events!
For example, at Authentic Education, we run a series of free MeetUps such as Marketing Your Message in order to give people a chance to get to know, like and trust us before deciding whether or not our paid programs are a fit for them.
And this is what we’d generally recommend you do too – rather than host a paid event, have a free event that runs for a short amount of time (typically 2-3 hours), but has enough value that people can get a sense of what it might be like to work with you at a deeper level.
#3. Email Marketing
Your email list is a goldmine (i.e. the most important asset for your business). There are 3 reasons for this:
a. You’re in control – you’re in complete control of your income with email, as opposed to having your revenue fluctuate according to sudden changes decided on a whim by other platforms.
b. You can build a relationship – with email, you can directly communicate and add value to your audience over time until they know, like and trust you, and are ready to buy.
c. You have more attention – email is the primary method of official business and personal communication, and with that comes a lot more attention.
It’s far easier to get someone to attend your event when they already know, like and trust you to some extent, and that’s exactly what email marketing achieves.
To make use of this strategy, the first step is to create a free valuable resource (as mentioned in Strategy #1) and use that to start a relationship. To do this, simply:
- Choose an email service provider like MailChimp
- Set up a form for your audience to ‘opt-in’ (i.e. fill in their name and email address) in exchange for your ‘appetizer’
- Create a landing page that includes the ‘opt-in’ form from Step 2
- Direct people to the landing page from various channels (like Facebook Ads)
- Continue building the relationship by adding more value via email
- Offer them the event you want them to attend
#4. Content Marketing
It’s hard to get a complete stranger who’s never heard of you before to attend your event, even if they’ve registered.
That’s where content marketing comes in.
It’s a free strategy that ensures that potential customers get a taste of the value you can provide them, before deciding to start a more intimate conversation (e.g email), to attend your event, or even to sign up for your services directly (when the time is right).
Content can come in various forms such as video, written text (blog posts), and audio, and can be distributed in various ways. As for what content to create for your event, there are a few things to consider, such as:
- Who is attending your event?
- What problems or frustrations are they currently facing that by attending your event, they’ll be able to solve?
- What are their goals, dreams and desires?
The key thing to remember is the intention behind this content – you are creating compelling, valuable content that can educate your desired audience about something.
NOTE: Content marketing permeates most, if not all other marketing strategies. Whether you’re running Facebook Ads, sending emails, posting on social media, speaking at a live event or giving away a free ‘appetizer’ resource, content marketing remains at the core of your ability to build trust with your business.
#5. Social Media
The average person spends about 14 hours per week on social media. And there are over 3.2 billion people on social media, 2 billion of which are on Facebook.
With so many ‘eyeballs’ on social media, it only makes sense to promote your event there.
However, the typical mistake people make with event marketing on social media, is they simply create an event page and post it once. Because most social media posts typically only last a few days, your message can be easily lost in the hurricane of other posts constantly populating the news feed.
It’s not a simple matter of repeatedly posting the same thing either.
Instead, you can use status updates, invites and your Facebook page effectively to generate traffic, interest and leads to your event.
How? Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
- Post high-value content on social media (refer to Strategy #4)
- Get people to take action by offering something valuable for free (e.g. PDF download, video series, free event etc.) in exchange for their email address
- Email them more value to continue building trust
- Offer them a next step (e.g. paid event, book, online course etc.)
The key mindset behind this is that until people attend your event, it’s just another date on their calendar (provided they’ve registered in the first place). So it’s important to maintain engagement with your potential attendees leading up to your event.
NOTE: The difference between this strategy and Strategy #1 with Facebook Ads, is that this strategy does not cost money. If you are limited with your budget for event marketing, I would suggest you start here.
#6. Joint Ventures (JVs)
Strategic partnerships can help you double your event marketing reach in a short amount of time.
If you’re not already familiar with this term, a joint venture is basically an arrangement between two businesses where they collaborate on marketing strategies to grow their lists and share profits.
Generally, the best method is to seek and approach another business that shares a similar vision, similar values and has a similar audience. That way, it makes sense for both parties to combine forces, as both parties benefit.
After you’ve found people you want to JV with, it’s just a matter of picking up the phone and reaching out to them with an offer.
A quick tip with JV event marketing once you’ve agreed on a partnership arrangement is to tell them exactly what you’d like them to say. One way you can do this is by writing an email template for them to send out to their mailing list.
It saves them time writing an email on your behalf and ensures your message stays as close to what you intend to say.
#7. Google SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Imagine a person working for you 24/7, directing an endless stream of traffic towards your event promotion.
That’s what SEO can do.
It gets you on the first page of Google for relevant terms your target audience is searching for (i.e. keywords), and has the potential to give you free traffic forever.
How it works can be very technical and confusing. However, to reach the top of Google, all you really need to do is focus on:
- Creating high-value blog posts filled with quality content
- Including keywords relevant to what your audience is looking for that your event can help with
A general rule of thumb is to have your keywords appear at least 5 times throughout your article. Once in your first sentence, at least 3 times in the middle section, and once in the last sentence of your blog post.
Be careful of ‘keyword stuffing’ however – it’s not simply a matter of forcibly repeating keywords over and over again. Google penalises this. Instead, just focus on providing great value and be aware of how you can include your keywords in a manner that makes sense.
Event Marketing Made Easy
So there you have it! 7 methods that will help you flood your event with prospects on demand.
Whether you’re a service provider (like a coach, consultant, health professional), events-based business, or just someone looking to grow your brand, these 7 event marketing strategies will prove useful.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how to promote an event with these 7 strategies, I’d like to invite you to check out my online course Digital Marketing Made Easy here.
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