There are many facets to what makes up a successful marketing strategy.
We’ve all heard that email marketing, blogging and social media ‘should’ be top priorities, right?
But what’s missing from that equation, that can provide an even higher (and faster) return is this: events.
Events for launching new products or services, educating your audience, thanking clients for their business, motivating your sales team, and the list goes on.
Let’s hold off on the type of events for a moment, and cover the ‘why’ first.
Why should you host events?
Do any of these sound like your company goals?
- Increase audience reach
- Put your name on the map
- Convert followers into die-hard fans (and clients!)
- Create demand for your entire product portfolio
- Skyrocket your sales.
Then I’m here to tell you, events are the ultimate needle-mover in many highly successful businesses.
Why? They are the most efficient and effective way to share your company’s messaging (internal or external) with a large group of people while allowing them to experience your brand at the same time.
We all know people buy from and work with people they know, like and trust.
When done right, events accelerate that process. What I mean by that is: people tend to get caught up in the ‘fun’ parts of planning (e.g. venue sourcing, theme choices, the all-important Instagrammable moments etc.) and overlook the beige tasks. Yet, it’s those tasks that provide the strongest foundation for hitting your goals.
As my gal Maren Morris sings: “when the bones are good, the rest don’t matter”. She may have been talking about love but the same is true of events. Ultimate event success can always be traced back to having a strong framework.
Building a strong framework for events
So now that we understand why we should host events, let’s go through the first three steps to building a strong framework so you can experience seamless, sold-out success.
Step 1. Clarify your event mission statement
Your mission is a short 2-3 sentence statement that describes your big picture objective and the reason for your event’s existence. Use this as your North Star to guide all decision making throughout the entire planning process.
The clearer you are on your mission, the more streamlined your entire event and its marketing will be. That is what gets you bums in seats and eyes on screens.
Step 2. Outline your event goals and KPIs
The main thing to understand here is this: “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time”.
It is imperative that everyone on the team knows from the get-go what you’re trying to achieve (goals) and exceed (guest expectations).
Whether you’re focused on elements like attendee growth or retention, sponsorship dollars, revenue targets, press hits, or overall attendee and stakeholder feedback, you should be:
- Using as few words as possible to clearly state the exact result you’re aiming to create
- Using numerical data to allow for easy calculating and reporting
- Aiming high but creating goals that are actually possible to achieve
- Ensuring every goal relates back to your event mission
- Assigning a start and end date so you can measure whether you achieved your goals in the allocated time frame.
And while many results will be measured during post-event reporting, it’s important that you track your progress so you can pivot as needed and implement additional measures along the way to influence success.
Step 3. Source a skilled and experienced support team
This is key because whether they are internal or external support, you are going to need more than just yourself to plan, manage and deliver your event.
Now you may be thinking, “I’m desperate for skilled help, but I don’t have the budget to pay for it.”
Here’s the thing, by delegating event tasks to people who don’t know what they’re doing, you’re likely costing yourself a lot more down the road than what you would have paid for a skilled professional or team upfront (Oh, the horror stories I could share!)
3 common mistakes you should avoid when planning events
1. Hosting an event before you have an engaged community
As I mentioned earlier, people buy from people (and brands) they know, like and trust so make sure you spend time building, and more importantly, getting to know your community before you launch your event.
Unless you invest heavily in a speaker line-up that sells your event for you, you are going to struggle on the ticket sale front without an interested audience.
2. Designing an event without considering your attendees’ goals
Remember that attendees have event goals too! The better you know your audience, the more confidently you’re going to be able to design an event they are going to want to pay to attend.
3. Don’t overcomplicate your marketing campaign
When it comes to marketing, always start with the 5 Ws:
- Who is your target market?
- What is your event elevator pitch? What are the top 5-10 features that are going to excite attendees? What makes your event different to any other event in the market? What problem does your event solve?
- Where does your audience consume their media?
- When are all of the industry and/or competitive events being held? Where possible, I always advise teams not to clash with established industry events that could be considered competitors.
- Why should people care? This is blunt, but it’s important to ask. With more choices than ever, if you can’t identify your event’s ‘why’ clearly and concisely, you might want to reconsider its existence.
Once you’ve defined all of the above from the perspective of your target attendee, not your own, you will have the basis to create a targeted marketing campaign that will convert rather than getting lost in a sea of noise.