Lights on, doors open. The day is finally here.
You peek your head out looking for the long line of excited attendees. To your shock, no one is there. Where are they? At the back entrance? And why did my high school science teacher just show up in costume?
You wake up in a cold sweat. Phew — it was just a dream.
But you quickly remember you still need to develop an extra-strength event marketing plan to ensure your audience knows about and shows up for your event.
There’s a lot of money and planning that goes into events — so it’s probably no surprise that being an event professional is consistently dubbed one of the most stressful jobs out there today.
Developing and implementing a water-tight event marketing plan can relieve some of that stress, attract an eager audience, and give your event content a shelf life that lasts long after your event ends.
Simply put, an event marketing plan outlines the strategy for event promotion and future marketing activations related to the event, including the tools and tactics needed to bring the plan to life. It typically has three stages –– pre-event, mid-event, and post-event.
But before your event marketing plan can take shape, the foundation for the event itself needs to be crystal clear. That means settling clear goals and objectives for the experience.
You’ll also want to determine the event theme, branding, any experiential marketing activations that will be in the mix, if sponsors are required, and if so, how you’ll procure them.
It can be tempting to put all your event marketing energy into promoting the experience before it begins. After all, you’re laser focused on getting people in the door.
But don’t underestimate the power of mid- and post-event marketing. Defining plans for these stages of your event’s lifecycle is critical to delivering long-lasting value for your audience and, in turn, meeting the goals and objectives you’ve set.
Read on to learn more about building an event marketing plan that drives value before, during, and after your event –– and helps you avoid any stress-induced nightmares.
Pre-event marketing activities
Craft an enticing and informative event home page
Your event home page is the heartbeat of your event marketing plan — it’s where all the core details of your event live and where you’ll typically be pointing potential registrants.
Make sure to include the date, time, ticket options, speakers, topics, theme, sessions, networking opportunities, and any materials attendees will need prior to the event.
Your branded event home page will serve as the front door to your event –– it represents your event and your organization. Effective branding will make your event stand out, appeal to your target audience, impress sponsors, and generate buzz.
Your website is an ideal place to showcase any hype videos, photos, or other design elements. Not sure where to start with event branding? Check out your guide to effective event branding for some pro tips.
Make sure your event homepage has a very clear call to action to register for the event.
Consider offering ticket tiers
Providing a tiered ticket system such as early bird, VIP, add-ons, and more, can help you reach a wider audience and sell out faster.
For instance, an early bird discount can create a sense of urgency for those thinking of buying tickets. It will attract an eager audience and can be quickly shared — organically expanding your reach.
Additionally, VIP or premium add-on options can add extra value and excite attendees. These add-ons can include one-on-one sessions with expert speakers, special cocktail hours, and exclusive networking opportunities.
Lastly, offering a referral discount, where those who refer a friend get perks, helps turn your attendees into brand evangelists as you tap into their network — which is likely a group of people who are part of your target audience too.
Generate high-quality content
In this competitive, experience-filled market, content is still king. Producing high-quality content related to your event can generate organic traffic, anticipation, and buzz. There are a million events out there — content can help yours stand out.
Consider articles, tutorials, guides, stories, social posts, and more, all slated to attract your audience to your event. You can highlight speakers who will be featured at your event, craft stories related to your event theme or topic, or review existing content to determine what can be repurposed.
Lean on internal stakeholders to help promote your content and use it to generate excitement with prospective and existing customers. And be sure to link to your event website as a call to action (CTA) in each piece so folks can easily register.
Spread the word through social media and influencer marketing
Social media marketing is standard for any seasoned event marketer today –– it’s formulating the right approach that can be tricky.
When creating a social media content calendar or campaign for your event, you’ll want to consider a few things:
- Where your target audience spends time: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, Reddit, or another network. When it comes to social media, seek to meet your audience where they already are.
- What type of content they’re likely to engage with: Videos, quote graphics, infographics, editorial content, highlights from previous events, speaker information, or something else. Find what’s likely to resonate with them.
- Who influences them: 75% of brand marketers plan to engage with influencers in 2022, and for good reason. Investing some of your budget into paid influencer marketing can improve brand positioning with target audiences, generate buzz, and create content to reuse in secondary marketing campaigns.
Announce your event with a press release
Whether you rely on a firm to handle press or you publish press releases in house using tools like PR Newswire or PR Underground, you’ll want to make a push to get your event in relevant media outlets to drive reach and awareness.
If you’re dealing with high-profile speakers, it can be helpful to lean on a PR professional who can ensure you have a high-quality release and handle any media inquiries.
Tap into the power of email
Start by communicating with your own database to let customers and any prospects you have permission to market to know about your event. Make sure anyone you’re considering emailing has agreed to receive marketing communications from your organization before sending anything. It’s always a good idea to review the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) checklist to ensure you’re meeting all email outreach requirements.
Consider the following cadence for promoting your event:
- An invitation email: You’ll want your first point of contact to be an invitation to your event. This first invitation email should include all the details of the experience, any relevant promotional materials, and a clear CTA to sign up for the event.
- Registration confirmation: After folks sign up for your event, they should immediately get a confirmation email. Let them know their registration went through and include an “add to calendar” integration so they can seamlessly input event details into their calendar.
- A reminder email 24 hours before the event: People tend to be busy and may need a gentle reminder before the event. Send out an email that lets registrants know you’re excited to see them tomorrow. This can help boost attendance. You might also want to include an “add to calendar” integration here in case they didn’t add it the first time.
- A final reminder just before the event: An hour or so before the event, send out one last reminder. Keep it short and sweet — you’re just continuing to build excitement and reminding them to attend. Whether your event is virtual, in person, or hybrid, sending out this email should give them enough time to prepare and join on time. If the event is virtual or hybrid, be sure to include the joining link.
Invest in paid advertising
Set aside some of your event budget for online advertising to ensure news of your event gets to your preferred audience. There are several types of online advertising out there.
Some of the most popular types are paid social media advertising and search engine marketing, or SEM, which includes the ads you see at the top of a Google search as well as display advertising or clickable banner ads.
Paid advertising can directly target the audience you’re looking to reach and can be effective in driving momentum for your event.
Lean into partner networks
Look to your sponsors and other partners for help promoting your event — they likely have access to some members of your target audience and it’s in their best interest to boost attendance. In return, you can agree to promote their activations across your owned channels.
You’ll also want to send speakers a speaker toolkit. Lauren Sommers, interim chief marketing officer at Hopin, says this is “one of the best ways to set your speakers up for success and amplify your event.”
The kit should include information on how speakers can promote the event on social media, how to update their LinkedIn profiles to show they’re speaking at the event, and how to amplify promotion through other channels.
Mid-event marketing activities
Push usage of your event hashtag
As part of your social media approach, you’ll want to develop a unique event hashtag that brings your event theme and brand to life. Ahead of the event, share your hashtag with attendees, speakers, partners, and anyone involved in the experience. Use it to tag your own posts too.
Then, during the event, you can encourage attendees to use the hashtag when sharing related content. Virtual or physical photo booths are also a fun way for attendees to take and share photos during your event –– and you can incorporate your event hashtag on all photo frames.
During the event, you can perform searches for your hashtag and share relevant posts from those involved in the event in real time. If your event is multi-day, include a CTA for folks to grab any tickets you might have left.
Simulcasting or streaming your event content on secondary or tertiary sites, helps you expand your reach even further.
You can simulcast on Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or other platforms simultaneously to get your event in front of more people while it’s happening.
Simulcasting also helps make your event easier to access, so if you’re planning to do it, mention simulcasting in your promotional activities. But be sure to check that your technology is able to handle this before promising it to your audience.
Give attendees and no-shows access to recorded content
There’s a chance some of your audience members missed portions of your event or maybe they loved it so much they want to watch it again, share it, or reference it. Beyond that, you’ll likely have no-shows who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it.
In any case, you can give them a chance to conveniently watch event content after the show has ended with your event recordings.
Repurpose and remix event content
Review your content and evaluate how it might fit into future marketing campaigns and activities. Was there a quote from one of your speakers you can plug into editorial content? Was there a scene where your attendees reacted well to a product launch? Can you draw from your event content to power up your social media content calendar?
Repurposing your event content gives it a longer shelf life, fueling other marketing activities, and ensuring you’re extracting as much value as possible.. Look for opportunities to reuse event content in your:
- Editorial pieces
- Social media posts
- And more
Send out a post-event thank you email
Let your attendees know you appreciate them taking the time to participate in your event by sending them a thank you email after the event.
It’s a great way to keep the connection going with your attendees as they could be interested in additional content or attending more of your events in the future.
Analyze your attendee experience
After your event is over, you’ll want to do a full review of your attendees’ experience. This will help you identify where engagement was the highest, where it was the lowest, the content that resonated best with your audience, and the champions of your experience.
Post-event analysis can unlock a world of insights, paving a path for you to create better relationships with your attendees and wider community. From there, informed, strategic follow-up campaigns can turn these attendees into new customers, and eventually, evangelists of your brand.
Where to turn for event marketing support
Put together an event marketing plan that covers all the bases –– so you can rest easy. And, don’t forget, your event content is the marketing gift that keeps on giving long after your experience is over.
Looking for technology and a team to support your event marketing efforts? Find out how Hopin can help you build and execute your event marketing plan. Contact a member of the team today.