Event marketing is, together with experiential marketing, one of the most important components of a successful marketing strategy. Organizing an event will help spread the word about your brand and get your targeted audience interested. It will draw consumers into a specially designed environment where they will learn more about your brand and perhaps even try out your products and services. As a marketing strategy, live events are a vital asset that can have a substantial positive impact on your sales. Getting up close and personal with consumers and building a relationship with them should never be underestimated.
If you’ve decided to host an event to increase brand awareness and drive trial to your business, you likely already know that it takes a village to execute everything properly. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of little details to consider, from the very conception of the idea all the way to analyzing post-event data to gauge the success of the campaign.
With this post, we hope to ease your way into developing the best event marketing strategy for your business. We’ll start from the beginning by shedding light on what you need to know before you decide what type of event you need, taking a step-by-step approach from there.
Understand Your Consumers (And Stakeholders)
Who is your target audience? What do you know about them? Your event’s success largely depends on your familiarity with your target market. The questions you need to answer are:
- What do your consumers need?
- How can you connect with them in a way that strengthens their loyalty to your brand?
These will help determine your path forward and what types of events to consider.
Likewise, you should take into account the stakeholders, such as event speakers, sponsors, partners, exhibitors, etc. What are their objectives? What would they like to achieve by taking part in the event?
All of this will shape your event idea and what the event should look like. In the case of your consumers, you can utilize social media and branded content to survey their opinions and needs. At the same time, face-to-face meetings are more appropriate for stakeholders.
Analyze Your Competitors
Before actually putting your event plans in motion, you should take a moment to analyze the market. Is it highly competitive? If so, what are your competitors doing? Have they organized any marketing events recently?
You could benefit from analyzing your competitors’ previous events and taking notes. Is there perhaps a gap in the market where consumers’ needs aren’t met? Can you meet these needs? You should also consider whether or not you are innovative enough with your event marketing ideas. Following the current marketing trend is fine, but, to stand out, you should think outside the box.
Determine Your Goals
When coming up with goals for your event marketing campaigns, use the SMART goals tactic. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. The purpose of having SMART goals is to avoid vague objectives, such as “bring in more qualified leads.” You need a target that is as specific as possible, measurable, and preferably one that can be attained by the end of the event. At Pro Motion, we like to always start with the end in mind.
Here is an example of a SMART goal: Acquire 100 new names on the list of prospective leads by the time the event wraps up. Compared to the general goal from above, this one has clear definitions that will help you determine whether or not you achieved this goal by the end of the event.
Develop Your Budget
With a bit of thinking, you should now have a general idea of what your event will be and a solid list of SMART goals that you want your business to achieve. You are confident in who your consumers are and what they need, and you’ve found a way to meet those needs that is both interesting and effective.
The next step would be to develop your marketing budget. Consider which areas of the campaign you need to focus on to achieve your end goals – these will require the most cash. Tailor the event to your budget because, ultimately, it’s not worth going into debt over a marketing event, no matter how successful it may be.
Put Together a Game Plan
The actual organization of the event should start right after you set your marketing budget. Here is a list of things you need to decide on when you’re putting together the event game plan:
- Event’s theme, brand, name, and purpose
- Venue and schedule
- Staffing, team training, and recruiting
- Customer engagement plan
Think about these questions: why should consumers attend the event? What will they gain from it? This will also give you insight on how to promote your event. If you want to have a keynote speaker or entertainment, you need to work out a schedule for all of these things.
Promote Your Event
Ideally, event promotions should start a few weeks or even a couple of months before the event. Set a promotion timeline and determine what type of content you’re going to send out. Social networks are the obvious marketing channel here, as it’ll be hard to draw any significant attention to your event without this segment of digital marketing.
Design and upload event websites that are easy to navigate and offer all the relevant information. (A pre-event blog with a new blog post now and then is also a useful marketing tool.) Perhaps you should invest in a mobile event app that will provide special discounts or offers to consumers. If your event is local, consider print material, such as pamphlets and posters around the area to promote the event.
It’s important to emphasize that event promotion doesn’t end with the start of the event. Additional content during the event engages attendees further, especially if you have something new that’s being offered right in the middle of the event. Not to mention that those who didn’t attend your event will be curious about what’s going on.
Live streaming, such as via Facebook Live, or live-tweeting the event also builds brand awareness.
Activation and Data Collection
Prepare for the unpredictable, as our company always says. Think about what could go wrong with the marketing strategy – and with the event itself – and do your best to prevent it. Once the event begins, stay on top of your game.
Keep an eye on the data that comes pouring in – the attendance numbers, social shares, customer stories, and the number of qualified leads. If necessary, don’t be afraid to shift your course of action during the event itself. Watch the release of event content and the reactions. Which segments left the crowd in awe, and which were not as thrilling? All of this information will come in handy for future events.
Measure Your Event ROI
Finally, after the event, it is vital to measure your event ROI (return on investment). An ROI will give you the best idea of whether or not you had a successful event and whether you implemented a successful event marketing strategy.
Choose a few KPIs (key performance indicators) that will help you evaluate your event’s success. These can be any of the following:
- Attendee engagement
- Social media engagement
- Coupon tracking
- Number of qualified leads and their conversion to paying customers
- Actual sales (if you are selling)
Coming up with an event marketing plan is not a walk in the park. It is a significant undertaking for your business, with potentially high costs and even bigger potential profits on the line. You need to pinpoint your target audience, differentiate yourself from your competitors, think about the practicalities, potentially look into event management software, then turn towards social media marketing (and other forms of online marketing), keep track of a great deal of data, and much, much more.
Don’t lose sight of the main goal: for the event attendees to have a good time. Your consumers and potential customers should always be your number one priority. Have open and honest communication with them through your brand, and everything else will fall into place.
If you feel like you need additional help to build an event marketing strategy, you can always look into hiring event marketers to get the job done. Our company offers just such services!
Pro Motion is an industry leader in creating engaging, unique experiences, and effective marketing campaigns. Give us a call at 636.577.8507 to have a high-level strategy discussion.
Learn More About Experiential Marketing from PMI President Steve Randazzo in his book Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters.