Do you have a big, high-profile event coming up in the next couple of months? If so, one is enough to get massive exposure for your company that can pay dividends for months or even years to come. With a little bit of planning you can use the digital mediums you already have in place to put your event to work advertising for your business. You’ll need a little bit of lead time to make it work, but by implementing the following strategy, you can use the success of just one event to gain many more leads and clients.
Note: This strategy works only if you have the permission of the client to share information about them and their event. Speak to your clients about it, letting them know how beneficial it will be for your business. Be specific about what you want to use, including things like information about them or their company, images or video footage.
Step 1: Take inventory of your marketing channels.
The more time you have before the event, the better. But six weeks should suffice to make the necessary plans and start building hype around your event.
The first thing you need to do is take an inventory of your digital marketing channels to see what mediums are available to you. Don’t worry about starting up new channels if they aren’t already in place. Chances are those channels won’t work very hard for you anyway if they are new and you have yet to build up a following. Start by making a list of possible digital mediums. It will look something like this:
Then put them in order from most influential to least influential:
This will help you determine where to direct the bulk of your efforts. Focus on your most effective mediums. If you can easily integrate other mediums into your more effective ones, then do so. But if not, leave them out of your strategy.
Step 2: Brainstorm and create a content calendar.
You have experience using these various channels toward one central goal: to get users to your website and eventually to contact you and pay for your services.
Now, you’re going to do the same thing, only with content about one event. The goal is to have all your content work together to tell the story of success. Using various types of media and marketing channels, you can tell a more complete and effective story that gets you more clients.
In order to do this, you’ll need to create a strategy and plan every move. It may sound like a lot of unnecessary work. You might be thinking, “I’ll just write a couple of blog posts, share some photos on Facebook, and create a video.” But putting these actions in your calendar will make it much more likely that they get done.
Use the mediums where you have an audience and those that have proven successful in the past. If you’re looking for ideas or inspiration, here’s a general template to get you started:
Four weeks before the event:
1. Write a blog post announcing that you will be catering or hosting the event. Give a background of the company, couple or organization. Ask your client for high-quality images you can use to tell the story better. The pictures could be of them, their history, their venue or anything else that your audience would find interesting.
2. Share your article on Facebook and Twitter. Particularly if your client is an organization, ask them to share your post with their social media followers, too.
Three weeks before the event:
1. Write a blog post about something practical you are doing connected with the event. For example: “8 Tips for Planning Outdoor Corporate Gatherings” or “5 Unusual Fondue Ingredients You Need to Try.” Mention your event in your article.
2. Share on social media with high-quality images.
3. Create and send a newsletter including both blog posts you wrote, as well as a few photos.
4. If you have a presence on YouTube, create a how-to video to share with your followers.
One week before the event
Take photos of everything you’re doing to prepare for the event. Add them all to an album on Facebook you created specifically for this event.
One to two days before the event
1. In the days leading up to the event, designate a person on your staff to “live-tweet” the event to followers, posting live and frequent updates for followers. Twitter and Instagram are both great mediums for sharing lots of updates in succession. Share everything you can think of: food prep, table settings, venue decorations, guests, etc.
2. Take video footage of the event and get the permission of your client to use the footage in promotional materials.
One week after the event:
1. Ask your client to leave you a review on Yelp (or your preferred customer review site). Ask their permission to use the testimonial in other marketing materials along with an image. Don’t forget to respond to their review publicly on the site.
2. Write a detailed (1,000 words or more) synopsis of the event on your blog, including colorful, high-quality images. Include and highlight their testimonial.
3. Share your blog post on social media and send the blog post in an e-mail newsletter.
4. If you use YouTube, create a video with the footage from the event and share it on all of your marketing channels. Don’t forget to post it on your blog as well!
5. Consider using paid Facebook advertisements to drive even more traffic to your website to showcase your excellent work on this event.
You may prefer to share content and images in other ways or through other mediums. Whatever you choose, make sure you are sharing content before the event (at least a couple of weeks), during (both during the event and during the prep, a day or two before), and after the event (within a week afterwards).
Now that you’ve come up with your plan, schedule each initiative in your content calendar, down to every last social media update. You can easily create a content calendar in Google by creating a new calendar. Call it “(your business name) Content Calendar” and share it with everyone who will be helping you produce and post the content. This will prevent any part of your plan from falling through the cracks. Avoid scheduling content over the course of a couple of days, or even for an entire day. Set specific times that you will generate and share each piece of content. Allow there to be no ambiguity as to whose responsibility each initiative is.
Step 3: Execute.
Now comes the hardest part: executing the plan you’ve created. Here are some tips to ensure that your strategy goes according to plan.
● Set alerts on all of your deadlines on your content calendar. Send e-mail reminders to everyone involved in creating and sharing the content to ensure everyone is on the same page.
● Make sure that whomever you choose to share social updates in the days leading up to the event has no other responsibilities during that time. Don’t give the smartphone to a server or an event coordinator. If you truly want to maximize this event for the highest possible marketing dividends, you need to have a dedicated staff person sharing updates about your event 24/7. You may not be keen on paying someone to spend the day on social media, but trust me: this will pay dividends in the future! Remember that this marketing project is relatively inexpensive because you are being paid to cater the event. Not having a staff person dedicated solely to digital marketing during this event is leaving money on the table. Don’t make this common mistake! Invest in personnel now and reap the rewards later.
● Designate someone on staff to oversee all of the marketing for the event and make sure that every initiative gets completed on time. This could be you, the business owner. But if you know that you realistically don’t have time to make sure this is done correctly, delegate to someone else.
● If you have several people on staff taking care of the marketing efforts for the event, have a contest to see who can execute their portion most accurately, creatively, or beautifully.
● When the event and any post-event marketing efforts are over, have a party for your staff to congratulate them on a job well done.
Sure, it takes a lot of work, strategy, and planning ahead, but it’s possible to make one single event work exponentially to gain you more clients. You are already doing the fabulous work: marketing is simply about letting your potential clients know about it.
Digital marketing is the most effective medium to get the word out about your involvement in an event. Don’t let your high-profile event opportunity slip away into oblivion. Instead let everyone know about it and watch new clients come to you to be next in line!
Anna Wickham is founder of Charm House, a digital marketing agency that specializes in helping catering and event companies increase revenue using the power of online content. She is author of the book How to Get More Catering Customers with Content Marketing. Download her free quick-start guide to marketing your business by clicking here.