– What advice do you have about marketing an event to achieve a successful outcome? – Maggie was a veteran in event organization terms. Andy was a novice and he had approached her to try to avoid what he believed were elephant traps waiting for him.
– If you are running an event as a profit-making activity – Maggie began – then it is vitally important that you maximize the attendance. Where the event is educational or promotional, you should keep a keen eye on covering your costs which generally means that there will be a minimum audience at a certain ticket price. To ensure that your event enters the consciousness of your target audience you need to know who they are and something about their reading, watching and listening habits. This sounds really technical but it’s mostly common sense.
Marketing and promoting an event rarely involves just one activity. It often requires a mixture of creative, organizational and persuasive skills overlaid by a tenacious streak.
Firstly, there is a long list of people who you probably already know. They may be past or present customers, suppliers or business associates who you believe will be interested, to some degree, in what you are offering. They should receive a personalized invitation that spells out how the features of the event will benefit them.
Although you may not know them all individually yourself, there may be someone in the organization who can help you and, if you have a Customer Relationship Database, there may be accessible data to streamline the exercise.
Email invitations are certainly easier to organize but unfortunately they are also easy to delete without reading. Posting invitations can allow a little bit of added value by using quality card to print a personalized ticket and the event details can be included as a tri-fold brochure. These are less easy to overlook and may sit on the recipient’s desk for a while, making an impact that a screen image may not.
If you do not have contact details for part of your target audience and you know they are likely to be readers of particular trade journals, magazines or newspapers then taking out some advertising space to sell your event would make sense.
Professional design in advertising always impresses. It reflects the professionalism with which the product is viewed and sets up an expectation. If your budget will allow, put the advertisement in the hands of a good graphic designer or advertising agency and they will provide you with a range of alternatives that will sell your event in different ways.
For those with a limited budget, you may need to design the advertisement yourself. If you are not experienced in the art of writing advertising copy, here are a few guidelines.
• Keep the text direct and to the point
• Only use technical language if it is essential
• Answer the who, what, where, when, why and how questions
• Who should attend? Who is running the event? Who do I talk to?
• What does the event intend to achieve?
• Where will it be held?
• When will it be held?
• Why should I be interested?
• How do I confirm my booking?
• Use your branding in the advertisement
• Either use white space or a striking image to draw attention to your advertisement
Proof read the copy three times to make sure there are no mistakes especially in telephone numbers, web domain names and Email addresses
Your advertisement should speak directly to people who need your service as they read it. To do this the most visible words need to feature clearly the benefit that your event has to them. For most people in business the benefits usually include:
• a large amount of valuable information
• a convenient venue
• a short period of time
It is useful also to have a hook line that demands a Yes answer, drawing the reader into the detail of the advertisement out of curiosity. For example
Are you looking for the best Internet Marketing seminar?
Finally, don’t forget posters as a cheap and often neglected form of advertising. Cities with mass transit systems have enormous business oriented captive audiences who might be staring at your advertisement for 45 minutes twice a day. Costs compare well with magazine and newspaper advertising and the size, position and shape of your advertisement gives you more creative scope.
Andy felt a little dazed. His naive hope for a one-line answer disappeared about half an hour ago and his pen was rapidly running out of ink as he tried to keep up with Maggie’s endless stream of common sense. Marketing a seminar, workshop, roadshow or any other type of successful event can mean more work than running the event itself.
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