You’ve carefully planned your event. The speakers. The sponsors. The exhibitors. The location (whether online or at a venue).
But how much thought have you given to your promotion?
When planning an event, your promotion strategy needs to be front and center. You can’t assume that just because you’ve built the show, your audience will come. Likewise, it’s not enough to channel your inner P.T. Barnum by proclaiming that you have the greatest show on earth.
Remember that your show is an extension of your brand, so you want to promote it with the same diligence you promote your products and services. The following ten tips can help.
1. Get people excited on social media.
You’re missing a huge opportunity to get people excited about your event if you aren’t using your organization’s social media platforms for promotion. No matter which social media you use, you can give your audience a glimpse into what they can expect at the event—from speakers to sessions. In addition, you can provide important information about where to register, get educational materials, and socialize with other attendees. Also, it’s a good idea to create social media pages specifically dedicated to your event so followers can get all of the information they need in a dedicated space.
2. Create and spread your event hashtag.
Using your social media for promotion is great, but in order to further increase your show’s brand recognition, you should create a hashtag dedicated to your event and spread it far and wide. Be sure to choose a hashtag that is relevant to your show and easy to remember, and then use it whenever you post about your event on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Also, you can include the hashtag in any promotional materials you send out about the show to encourage people to use it and talk to each other.
In addition, you can ask your show’s speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees to use the hashtag in the months leading up to the event to get people excited about it, as well as during the show to let people who aren’t there know what they missed so they’ll want to attend the next one.
3. Engage your email list regularly.
If your organization doesn’t already have an email newsletter, the event planning process is a great time to start one and get subscribers from all of the other outreach that you do. If you already have a newsletter, you can make announcements about the event, including reminders of when the registration deadline is, information about the speakers and sessions, and, if it’s an in-person show, suggestions of places to visit in the city where it’s being held. Also, it’s a good idea to encourage your audience to share your emails with their contacts who may also be interested in the event.
4. Work with influencers.
Partnering with influencers in your industry so they’ll talk about your show can help bolster its credibility, as well as its reach, because it gives you the opportunity to get in front of followers who trust them. You may already be connected to influencers in your network through your existing contacts or the organizations that you’re a member of. If not, you can find people to partner with through tools like SocialLadder.
5. Mobilize your stakeholders.
Although you can enlist an industry influencer to act as your brand ambassador, also keep in mind that you already have access to people who can sing the praises of your event—your exhibitors, your sponsors, your speakers, and even your past attendees. Just as you should be active on social media about your event, you can also ask your stakeholders to post information about the show. To make it easier for them to do, you can supply prewritten social media posts that include your established messaging. Also, encourage them to always use the show’s hashtag when they talk about it to their audience.
6. Utilize your blog.
Your company’s blog is also an excellent place to share insights about what’s going on with your show. During the planning stages, you can expand on the information you’re supplying on social media and write detailed posts that can include interviews with your speakers, previews of the programming attendees can expect, and logistical information on registration, hotel choices, and transportation. But be sure that your blog isn’t just about the show: To keep attendees interested, you still need to continue providing content that offers value to them, such as industry news and tips that make their lives easier.
7. Alert the media.
When it comes to spreading the word about your event, the media is your friend. Be sure to send out press releases to publications that specifically cover consumer and trade shows, as well as those that cater to members of your specific industry. In addition, you can send information to local news outlets that maintain event calendars so members of your community are aware of your show, and try to secure interviews on your local news to help get the word out.
8. Tell your story with videos.
Posting videos on your social media platforms, blog, and event website helps to bring your show to life and increases potential attendees’ interest. Behind-the-scenes videos that detail the planning stages of the event not only increase awareness, but they also help to create a bond with audience members because it makes them feel like they have access to something special that no one else does.
You can also post videos during the event—and encourage your attendees to as well—in order to show people who didn’t make it what they missed. From product demonstrations to keynote speeches, sharing videos is an effective way to start marketing your next show during your current one because it triggers the "fear of missing out" effect.
9. Organize contests to increase engagement.
Everyone loves a contest and by doing them during the pre-show phase of the event, you’ll get more engagement with your content. You can offer discounts or free tickets to your audience in exchange for things like answering a question with the event’s hashtag included in the post or responding to a post with a certain number of their followers tagged. Also, caption and photo contests are a fun way to engage your audience. By doing giveaways regularly, you get people coming back to your social media pages again and again.
10. Keep the momentum going with post-event marketing.
The promotion of your event does not end with the closing remarks to attendees. In order to keep the momentum going that can be carried into the next show, post photos and videos that illustrate highlights of the event. Also, create post-event blogs that provide a more in-depth look at how the show went. Additionally, be sure to encourage your attendees to share their stories online to let their contacts know how valuable the show experience was for them.
No matter what industry you’re in or what kind of event you’re organizing, you need a solid marketing plan that will allow you to leverage the goodwill that your brand has already established with your audience, as well as your event stakeholders. Make sure that anything you do is consistent with your current brand messaging and that it helps to use your event to deepen your relationship with the existing members of your audience while attracting new ones.
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