This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
Events can be great marketing tools. The power of a face-to-face interaction is hard to match. The trick is getting bottoms in the seats in a cost-effective manner. Snail mail invitations aren’t the only way to promote an event today. Here’s how to promote your event online to make an impact.
Before you start publicizing your event, prepare a consistent creative message. You want your promotional campaign to feel cohesive. This allows you to gain momentum by building on your existing event brand with each promotional activity.
Determine the name of the event and how you’ll describe it. Consider adding a graphic branding element. If you plan on preparing multiple types of promotional pieces for the event, determine what needs to be on each item and what creative branding elements must be included.
Drive your guests to one site for information, sign-ups and ticket purchases. This location is up to you and should remain consistent throughout the event promotion. All base camp options should be mobile friendly and include your event’s creative branding, description, details, sign-up form and payment options (if needed).
Your website. As a web designer, I always suggest driving the traffic to your website for event information and sign-ups. Your site is a controlled marketing environment. You’re not encumbered by another system’s limitations. And best of all, users might stumble upon something else they need while they’re visiting.
Other online event sign-up options. If you’re only planning on one or two events per year and you don’t have a complicated sign-up process, a third-party event registration service may be a good cost-effective solution for your event.
As you promote your event, always drive traffic back to base camp using your event brand imagery and message.
Promote it on your website. Even if base camp isn’t your website, promotion on your site is a must. Add a pop-over ad on key pages of the site to call attention to the event. Add an ad to your home page slider and place it in a prominent location on blog posts and high traffic generating pages.
Email blast. Blast it out a few times — once, a few weeks before, like a save the date; then once, a week or so before, like more of a true invitation; then a final email, the day before or the day of, as a “last chance” reminder. If you send regular email newsletters, include an ad for the event. Make sure to review your stats. Some email marketing systems allow you to see who opened and clicked on each email. Marry that with your event sign-up list and send a personal email or make a phone call to follow up with those who clicked but didn’t sign up.
Promote via social media. This is a no brainer — post about your event on all your social media outlets. Keep your audience updated during each step of your planning journey. Keep them dialed in and interested for must-have giveaways or big reveals at the event.
Boost a Facebook post or run an ad. Boost your Facebook post about the event to make sure your current fan base doesn’t miss the invite. Consider running an ad to reach out to new event participants. Target people in your geographic area who have appropriate interests, job titles or even connections to specific companies.
Add event imagery to your email signature. In the weeks leading up to the event, add the event imagery to your email signature and link the ad back to base camp. Then you’ll be sure not to miss a single contact!
Place an ad on your digital invoices. If your event is geared toward current clients, consider adding your event graphic to digital invoices. This is a great way to multipurpose an existing communication with clients. Remember, the person who receives the invoices may not be the only person you want to invite to the occasion.
Capture visitors with Google remarketing or Facebook retargeting. Both Facebook and Google offer low-cost retargeting solutions that are great for large events generating new customers. Think of retargeting as advertising insurance. You went through all the trouble (and money) to bring the visitors to your site initially. Don’t miss an opportunity to remind them about the event and convert the sale.
Even with all the digital hoopla leading up to the event, don’t discount the value of a physical invitation and a follow-up phone call. A personal touch may be what many attendees need to take the leap.