We get it. Your event is your creative brainchild. You poured hours of contemplation, endless phone calls, and about twenty last-minute reparations into it. Even so, event promotions can make or break your event. In the age of experiential marketing, your promotional plan is not only how you let people know about your event- it’s how you build strong relationships with your attendees and keep up with them as they constantly evolve.
Most event planners know the drill: Promote your event using social media and email lists, take live polls at events, create killer post-event surveys, and so on. (We’ll briefly go over these important strategies, as they’re at the heart of your event promotion). But what makes you stand out from all the rest? Event planning is an increasingly competitive market, but the good news is that there’s a lot of room for creativity. There are innovative ways to participate in every standard, essential promotional strategy- you just have to find the ones that work best for you. Showcasing your uniqueness is the key to building a loyal, interactive customer base. Here are a few creative ideas to make your event promotions your own:
1. Use Social Media- Creatively
This may sound like a no-brainer, and it certainly is the most commonplace of the unique advice we’ll give you today. But social media promotions are first on our list because it creates your main connection with your attendees. Without it, the rest of our ideas will fall flat. Using social media to promote your event is about more than creating a Facebook event page and checking it every so often. It’s an in-depth strategy that requires you to decide where your target audience is and connect with them. Ideally, you should be promoting your event on most, if not all, social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin, to name the most important ones.
Each social media platform has its own advantages and disadvantages that vary depending on your strategy and the nature of your event. Facebook events are somewhat limited, as its news feed is overcrowded by ads, and its new algorithm shows you the content you’re most likely to have a positive reaction to. This information is gleaned from varied data about your Facebook activity, and is highly non-specific. But you can maximize the visibility of your event by creating a page for it, linking it to your profile page and website, and posting frequent updates.
Create a catchy, unique hashtag for your event, and share it on Twitter. Once you create your hashtag, you should ideally be using it consistently on all of your social media platforms. But since Twitter is all about media-related news and current events, it might lend your hashtag the most exposure to a mass audience. Twitter is also the most popular place to follow celebrities, with Instagram coming in at a close second. But whereas Instagram is a better platform for connecting personally and sharing visual content with your customer base, Twitter limits Tweets to 75 words or less. Therefore, it takes users less than a minute to post to massive audiences. The trendy phone case brand Wildflower Cases, which propelled the family who created it to stardom, got its big break when Miley Cyrus famously tweeted about it.
No event promotion should exclude Instagram, which is the best platform for building personal relationships with your attendees. This is where you create an emotional attachment by interacting with them about the things they care about. Pay attention to the things your followers are passionate about, the places they go, and the products they buy and promote. But don’t forget to let your followers get to know you as well- without doing so, the interaction they want and need is missing, and a disconnect follows.
Speaking of visuals, why not create your own take on the usual video slideshows of past events? Design your video recordings of past events in the style of a movie trailer with an anticipatory beginning and exciting climax. You can end the mini-trailer with a call to action to buy tickets, revealing any perks your event promotion includes for early bird registrars. Sharing behind-the-scenes set-up and funny bloopers featuring your main players is another way to add interest to your event before it begins.
2. Tune into Your Attendees with a Podcast
If you’ve been following our blog- or any event blog for that matter- you already know that the power of visuals is harnessed best by engaging videography and clever infographics. But what about audiography? Podcasts are more popular and easier to create than ever before. The technology behind podcasts created on your phone isn’t as complicated as you might think.
Recently, Achor 3.0 was released for iOS and Android, and it’s super-easy to use. Anchor takes you directly to the recording screen. All you have to do to record is tap a button! You can record with the phone to your ear, or sit your phone down and make yourself comfortable. Anchor also gives you the ability to add segments and music. Even better is the fact that anyone who downloads this app can call into your podcast and speak to you as if on a normal phone call. You’ll also be able to answer messages. These interactions are then converted into segments of your show.
We recommend starting your Podcast before your event as a way to interact and develop relationships with your attendees. Depending on the theme of your event, your conversations could discuss industry trends, technology related to your industry, and feature influencers and professionals with their own fan bases. You can also create countdowns, host giveaways, and share updates related to your event as it approaches. One of the best things about Podcasts is that it gives you a chance to share your unique perspective on the topics you discuss- and have live conversations with attendees. Sure, there’s a lot of sophisticated event tech and data collection services on the market, and you should be taking as much advantage of them as you can afford to. But what better way to get to know your attendees than to just talk to them? Podcasts can create a relaxed social setting not unlike a cozy nook in a favorite coffee shop- only you have access to large audiences.
3. Include a Book Signing from Your Keynote Speakers
If your keynote speakers have written a book or been featured in a prominent publication, ask them to sign the book- and pencil in your event info. You may be wondering how your attendees would know if your speakers signed their own books, how many were signed, and where they can be purchased. The answer is, you tell them. Promote the information regularly on all your social media, along with pictures of the signed copies, relevant articles featuring the speaker, and the speaker’s website. People love an element of exclusivity- the more insider connections they feel they have with your brand, speakers, and vendors, the better.
If your speaker/author is able and willing, ask him or her to bring copies of their book to your event, and sign them live. Another promotional idea that puts your speakers and their work in the spotlight? Talk to your speakers about giving away ten free signed copies to the first ten VIP registrars- or giving away their signed work to people who donate the most money on a crowdfunding platform if you’re raising money for your event.
4. Go Guerilla
If your event is related to performance of any kind, start putting on your show before your event That’s right- in the weeks or even month prior to your event, have your staff dress up to fit your theme and use the streets as their stage. This may sound a bit excessive and is admittedly on the flamboyant side, but it gives potential attendees a live sneak preview, and how often does that happen? If you can obtain permission to put on your show in a public space where people will be walking by- or better yet, sitting down.
Once you’ve got the attention of your impromptu audience, you can do one of two things: reduce the cringe factor and connect with your audience by being funny, or go full drama and wow them with real talent. Of course, this depends on the nature of your event and the staff you’ve got performing. Recently in New York, a small ballet company put on small but dramatic live performances near subways, on street corners, and in Central Park. The short, whimsical performances breathed some life and color into the streets that day, and it was the perfect start to spring.
5. Host a Webinar for Your Event
Creating a webinar is an involved process, but it can be instrumental in engaging B2B audiences. In fact, recent studies have shown that over half of B2B marketers incorporate webinars into their content marketing strategies. If they have the means and the know-how, event planners should be no exception. Even if you’re not sponsored, you can host a free webinar by downloading software such as Livestorm, Onstream Webinars, BigMarker Webinars, or EasyWebinar.
When creating a webinar that will run smoothly, you’re going to want to relegate the right tasks to the right staff. Choose someone who is well-organized and fast, efficient worker to develop the content for your webinar. This might be the same person who secures a speaker for your event and is instrumental in carrying out your marketing strategies
The presenter of your subject matter should be an interesting speaker who knows his/her subject well and is passionate about it. This person should be charismatic but down-t0-earth and relatable enough to engage your audience. Presenters might also assist with webinar programming and event registration, although those tasks may be relegated to assistants as well.
Your assistants are the base of your support system, and your webinar could not run without them. The content developer and presenter won’t have time to answer questions that are technical in nature, such as audio issues.
The format of your webinar matters as much as the facilitators behind it. After all, it’s your format that dictates the way you connect with your attendees, and the way they connect with each other. For example, single speaker formats are exactly what they sound like: They feature one speaker who communicates with the attendees. It’s the speaker’s responsibility to demonstrate the contents of the webinar and answer all questions. Needless to say, larger audiences can easily overwhelm a single speaker, who will only be able to interact with a small portion of a huge attendee base. Single speakers are far better choices for webinars with small audiences.
For larger audiences or maximum engagement, we recommend bringing in the experts. In this format, a speaker interviews a panel of experts who also answer questions from the attendees. You can also facilitate a webinar in which the expert panel mainly discusses the subject in detail among each other. Then, at the end of the session, the panel can take questions from the attendees. The speaker can also collect questions from the audience beforehand.
Webinars need to use effective visuals to demonstrate their content. We’ve all attended PowerPoint presentations in high school, college, and dreary professional conferences; most attendees have zero interest in attending a webinar that looks like one. However, starting with a good introductory slide is essential. You can include colorful infographics to add interest to this informational piece, which presents the main points to be discussed during the webinar.
The next slides should introduce the presenter and experts, sharing background information that includes their experience and affiliation. This part should be brief and concise, but include the most important and interesting information about each presenter. It goes without saying that you’ll want to include your logo and professional photographs of yourself and/or your expert panel. Follow this section up by summarizing the topics that will be covered in the webinar. Illustrate them with powerful, eye-catching visuals, and a visual demo of how to use the tools and websites needed for participation.
We know that promoting your event involves enough work as it is, and we sympathize. But in order to gain an audience for your webinar, you’ll need to promote that, too. Here’s how to do it without breaking the bank or taking too much time away from your other event promotions:
Create a website that tells your audience who you are and introduces them to your brand, topic, and speakers. If possible, create a Q & A space for anyone who has questions about your webinar before and after signing up.
Just as you’re using social media to promote your event, use it in the same way to promote your webinar. If the expenses are racking up, it’s not necessary to take out ads on Facebook and other pages. (Actually, that’s not really necessary even if you can afford it, which many of us can’t- especially those of us just starting out). Create a hashtag for your webinar, post a countdown as the date approaches, and send reminder emails.
Now that we’ve given you some ideas on how to make your event stand out, go out there and do your best!