In the highly competitive world of events, event organizers need to be thoroughly proactive in order to get their event noticed--yet so many are unclear on the best promotional strategy. At Event Insurance Services, we recently created an Event Promotion Tool Kit to help organizers spread the word of their event far and wide. Here’s some of the juicy bits of advice to come out of the tool kit:
When Should You Start Promoting Your Event?
While there is no specific timeframe in which you should start promoting your event, generally the earlier you start, the better. You should be trickling information to your audience as soon as you know that you’ll be planning an event--even if you don’t yet know the date, theme or location. A simple “watch this space” message will start to build anticipation with your audience, which can be followed up with the specifics later on.
It’s not just about promotion on the build-up to your event, though. You should also be actively promoting your event on the day-of and afterwards, too. Live updates on social media during the event will show everyone who didn’t attend what they are missing, while post-event promotion gives you the opportunity to re-engage with your audience, discuss what was learned and get them geared up for the next event.
Which Promotional Channels Should You Choose?
The promotional channels you use will depend partly upon the characteristic behavior of your audience. Do they spend hours online? Are they avid newspaper readers? Are there any brands they are already loyal to that you could partner up with? Once you know how to target your audience, you can then start selecting the best marketing channel to target them with.
When it comes to marketing channels, you also need to think about timing. Social media can and should be used throughout the promotion journey, while email should be used sparingly because you don’t want to irritate your audience by bombarding their inbox. Branded materials should be ordered for the day-of the event well in advance, and you should try to book any press advertising or secure any coverage in the local press well in advance.
How Do You Approach the Press?
When seeking out coverage of your event in the local press, you will need to be precise, professional and persistent! Newspaper editors receive many editorial requests every day, so you need to do something special to stand out from the crowd. There are three golden rules to contacting the press, which you should stick to if you want to see success:
1. Use a personalized approach--You should always do a bit of research first and try to discover the name and job title of the person you need to contact. That way, you can address them personally in your initial email, making them much more likely to respond positively to your editorial suggestions. If you don’t hear back from the email, you can then do a follow-up phone call to discuss your event further.
2. Hook them in--You can’t expect editors to be as excited about your event as you are. You need to give them a reason to get excited, so find a good hook to lead with. Have you got any interesting statistics that were uncovered during the research phase of your event organization? Are there any high-profile people/celebrities attending or contributing in some way? Find the hook and use it to lure the editors in!
3. Make it simple--Editorial staffers are always on the go and always time-poor. If your initial email/communication doesn’t make it easy for them to understand what it is that you are contacting them about, your message will get tossed into the trash. Introduce your idea straightaway, copy and paste the press release into the body of the email text, attach a Word and PDF version, and provide high-quality images!
What About Social Media?
Of course, social media will be a vital tool throughout your promotional journey. You should first assess which social media platforms your audience are active on, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other platform. You’ll then want to start using those platforms to share information, encourage engagement and get a two-way dialogue going with your audience to discover exactly what they want to see at your event.
Try to be as visual as possible with your posts and direct your audience to a page on your website dedicated to your event.
During the day of the event, post regular updates with photographs of your event, consider live-streaming the important bits, and come up with a unique hashtag for the event to encourage your audience to get the discussion going on social media!
How Do You Measure The Return On Investment Of Your Promotional Activity?
Throughout any promotional activity, you should be putting measures in place to evaluate the return on investment of each channel. This is much easier if you are promoting your event online, as you can simply use Google Analytics to track whether people came from the search engines, email, paid advertising or social media. For other promotional activity, such as print advertising or direct mail, it can be a bit more difficult to measure the return on investment, so you might have to conduct a survey asking your attendees where they heard about the event.
The return on investment isn’t just measured in financial gain, though. It’s also about increasing brand awareness, attaining leads for future business and creating overall satisfaction level of your event attendees. By implementing a data collection strategy at your event, you’ll come away with more information about your audience and contact details for future promotions, so don’t just think of return on investment as a financial gain, look beyond that and evaluate what else you gained from your event.
If you can get your promotional strategy really working, you’ll see massive benefits for your event. You can find out more about promoting your event using our Event Promotion Tool Kit, designed to take you through each stage of promotion.
Dan Rose is a director of British-based Event Insurance Services, which specializes in insuring events. His team prides itself on providing affordable, reliable insurance, tailored to fit the scale and style of the occasion – from school fêtes and small ceremonies to high-profile weddings and events.