Strong marketing is critical to the success of any event, whether you’re hosting a nonprofit fundraiser, community festival, concert or business conference. Successful event organizers are proactive about solving common event marketing challenges. The following lists common problems plus event marketing tips you can use to solve them before they derail your next event.
1. Low event marketing budget
A low event marketing budget doesn’t mean you can’t hold a successful event. It just means you need to be strategic about how you promote it.
Choose low-cost event marketing tools such as banners, flyers and short-run posters, which make it easy to reach many people for minimal investment. Place them in high traffic locations as well as targeted areas where your audience will notice them.
If you’re printing invitation cards, send them to a well-targeted list comprised of people who are likely to attend your event. You should also explore social media and email marketing. Both are affordable ways to market your event. Stickers are likewise low-cost event marketing tools: print promotional stickers, then place them in strategic areas your audience will notice them.
Another excellent strategy: enlist sponsors or charge exhibitors to attend your event. Sponsorship and exhibitor money can be used to fund your event marketing campaign.
Consider partnering with media members. Reach out to relevant journalists and influencers to offer them press passes to your event, special access and interviews with your presenters. They’re likely to mention your event to their audiences, which can offer outstanding exposure for minimal (or no) investment.
2. Stagnant annual growth
If you host a successful annual event, but attendance hasn’t increased year after year, it’s time to revisit your marketing strategy. It could be you’re expending most of your efforts to attract people who have attended in the past rather than new attendees.
Develop a strategy to collect contact information from event attendees. That way, you can send low-cost invitation cards, flyers and emails to a targeted list. Then, identify attendee demographics and broaden your marketing to people who share them. For example, you can create a mailing list based on past attendees, then send direct-mail postcards to boost attendance.
3. Heavy competition
Does your event go up against other events your audience likes to attend? If possible, you might want to change the date. If that’s not a possibility, you can leverage marketing to make your event more attractive than competing events.
Start by identifying attendee benefits. What will they get out of attending your event? Will they make industry contacts? Learn something they can use in their businesses or personal lives? Solve problems? Have fun? Make sure you promote your presenters and tell your audience why they need to hear what they have to say.
Once you’ve identified key benefits, craft compelling banner, poster, flyer, invitation and postcard designs that create excitement and tell attendees how to register. You should also set up a registration page and consider an early bird discount to motivate registrations.
Study competitors’ marketing materials to identify ways you can make yours stand out and position your event as better than the rest.
4. You got a late start
It’s best to begin event marketing several months ahead, even up to a year in advance, so you have time to reach your audience with repetition. However, a late start doesn’t doom your event to failure. It just means you should market fast via multiple channels to make up for that lack of repetition.
Start with marketing tools that reach the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time: banners, flyers and posters. If you have a large social following or email list, use them to get the word out fast. You can also consider partnering with media outlets: take out radio and television ads, advertise on targeted websites and blogs, and consider a newspaper flyer insert for local events.
If you blanket the market, a late start doesn’t need to hamper event attendance. In some cases, a robust multi-channel marketing campaign might even produce better results if you reach people who are seeking upcoming events to attend.
5. Unpredictable attendance
It’s tough to plan your event if you don’t know how many people will attend. Some events are free, so they don’t sell tickets. Some allow same-day registration, which can mean an unexpected rush of attendees or an empty venue.
One of the best ways to combat unpredictable attendance is to offer an attractive early bird incentive. That can be a discount for paid events. For free events, you can partner with a sponsor to offer freebies or sweepstakes entry.
Add a strong call to action to all your marketing materials to promote your early bird incentive, which will motivate early registrations, so you know your event will be a success before you open the doors.
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