In this Ultimate Guide to Event Marketing, we’ll be showing you how to fully prepare, plan, and promote your event based on the advice and experience of our digital marketing and event marketing specialists. Regardless of whether you’re hosting or being hosted at an event, there are three key stages that you need to consider in order to maximise the return on your investment; that could be gaining reach for your brand, selling a product or service, or networking.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” —Benjamin Franklin.
The common misconception we are often met with is that after you’ve arranged the practicalities of your event – hired the space, set up your stand(s) and decided on who will attend – the majority of the work done.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Social media and other forms of promotion should never be an afterthought and need the same consideration at the early stages of event planning. Alongside any preparation and arrangements you make for your event, you need be considering how you plan to promote your event. This is the same approach you need to take whether you’re hosting your own event or attending another event as a partner or speaker.
Choose Your Channel
Firstly, you need to choose your channels through which you plan to promote your event. Event marketing can be delivered on social media or through email and direct mail. To help you choose your channels we’ve provided a short overview of the strengths and weakness of each one:
Facebook is a great platform for Business to Consumer (B2C) companies who are selling a product or service. The platform has the capability to reach millions of people if used properly, both organically and through paid ads. It’s a bit more informal and requires you to have strong visuals to accompany posts and boost engagement.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram has amazing potential but you need to have extremely strong visuals to create the feeling of an experience, which can be challenging for services. Advertising on this platform is a brilliant option but be mindful that the majority of users are aged between 18-34 so depending on the target audience for your event, you might find your ad spend used more effectively on other platforms. Moreover, Instagram is tricky for business to business (B2B) companies as the platform relies heavily on personal experiences, even if these are advocated by influencers.
Twitter is an extremely versatile platform but really lacks the same advertising strength as Facebook and Instagram due to the set up of ad targeting. As an organic platform, Twitter works well for B2B and B2C businesses as you can freely tweet – and sometimes Direct Message (DM) – business, influencers, and customers. Their search feature isn’t so advanced, so putting together a targeted organic campaign can be very time consuming but, through this research, it indirectly allows you to get a snapshot of your audience and their hashtag habits.
LinkedIn is perfect for reaching businesses and professionals. It’s a great platform for promoting your event and getting your company on board and sharing it with their network. Typically, LinkedIn is a more formal platform, but it’s recently embraced a more casual tone and hashtags.
Provided you have the correct permissions, email marketing can be an extremely effective method for event marketing. You can easily promote your event through an email or newsletter, making it a personal or general as you like. The only drawback is having a good understanding of what you can and can’t send, and who you can contact without violating any General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
More of a traditional approach, direct mail can take time to plan, design, print and distribute, but has just as much, if not more, impact on the recipient. Gathering addresses isn’t necessarily straightforward and can take time to gather, especially if your database is mostly email addresses – and remember, this is still covered by GDPR law so ensure you are compliant.
Of course, choosing the channels to promote your event depends greatly on what you already have set up, your resources, and your budget. Furthermore, you need to ensure that your multi-channel marketing strategy really complements and builds upon one another. We strongly suggest you review your platforms, looking at your audience and their engagement as well as the effectiveness of your schedule.
Collate and Create Collateral
Collating and creating images and video to promote your event can take longer than you think. If you want a video to be created as part of your event marketing you need to plan for this in advance. Depending on the availability of you and the production company and the number of edits you want, this could take a week, to several months depending on budget and deadlines – so if it’s something you think you might need, don’t leave it to the last minute so you can maximise the potential of the video.
In terms of images, you might want a photo shoot to promote your product(s), team or stand, and you need to think about where these images might be placed. Are they going to be used in a newsletter? Featured on a leaflet? Or, perhaps, be used on your social media? It’s okay to not have the answers to this at this early stage, and we’re more than happy to help decide on this with you, but it’s worth giving it some thought. At OggaDoon, we have experience working to tight deadlines, creating all the collateral needed for a nationwide app launch at one of the biggest industry events of the year – delivering video and photo in advance of and during the event.
Writing Web Copy
With your event ready you need to have accompanying web copy hosted on your own site, and possibly others. You need to know the basic details, such as timings, location and cost, as well as any additional offering. Think about the purpose of your event; Are you selling a product/ service? Promoting you and your team? Is there a special offer?
You should have a dedicated webpage on your website, making sure it’s front and centre. There are a number of ways you can do this regardless of the advanced capabilities of your website. At a minimum, we suggest a dedicated page and a blog piece signposting to more information and the purchasing page.
Without careful consideration of your goals and milestones, you’ll have no idea of when (or if) you’ve reached success. You need to think about SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals and decide on how you’re going to track them. Setting these milestones and goals can give you content ideas to shout about on social.
You can use ticketing systems, website and social analytics to help you measure and report back on these in order to track your progress. These things must be considered at an early stage because they can take time to set-up or have reporting back in time for your launch. Always be prepared for issues with technology so you’re not caught off guard – or give us a call and let us sort this out for you, as we always offer reporting as part of our packages.
By this stage you should have an idea of what channels you want to use based on where your audience(s) are and when they’re engaging with your content. Creating a social calendar or plan to market your event can take an initial time investment for research and the creation of a schedule to ensure that everything you post works in tandem with each other. You need this plan to ensure that you’re not oversaturating your feed with repetitive content or putting out the same content across every channel. You can approach social by writing the same, or similar (phrasing, Calls-to-action etc) copy for each channel and posting it out at the same time, but we strongly suggest you go above and beyond, offering a variety remembering to treat each platform uniquely based on their audiences and algorithms.
Identifying your tone of voice, and making sure this matches with both your brand’s and the event’s tone is crucial, especially if you have multiple services or products that you’re promoting through the same channels. You want to have these key fundamentals laid out before you start writing any social. Yes, you can learn as you go, but having a plan in advance will make all of your event marketing so much easier. A short document stating your selling points, Tone of Voice, schedule/timing, and any other supported media on social – such as images, GIFs or hashtags – needs to be created to maintain consistency in your communication throughout your event marketing campaign.
We’re proud to offer unparalleled branding workshops and social media planning thanks to the expertise of our team. For us, we like to work collaboratively with our clients, feeding off of their passion and translating it into a brand and meaningful communications that generates impact and engagement.
For bonus points, consider press and media opportunities in advance of fully rolling out any marketing for your event. Will you create a press release? What titles will you target? What’s your angle? Why should journalists care?
This activity can be a rather large time-suck but can have immeasurable pay-off if you successfully manage to pitch your event into a journalist or press title. Collecting information about titles and journalists can be a bit of a headache, especially if this is something you’ve not given a lot of thought to. As you can imagine, journalists don’t always have their contact details readily available, and this is where having an established network of connections really comes in handy.
We’ve had extensive experience in pitching our clients and their stories into press thanks to our priceless index of journalists, knowledge of the market and investment of time into researching journalists’ request.
Pick your Partners
A partner is an individual or company that you work with to promote your event. The purpose of these collaborations could be to market your event, using that partner’s network and reputation as leverage, making the sharing of your event their responsibility for being a part of it or offering them a financial incentive to do so.
Just remember, not all partners are the same. Some partners might be potential attendees, sponsors or guest speakers. You need to approach each uniquely – though there might be some overlap in what you send over to them – with a clear message to pique their interest. You cannot go for the one-size-fits-all approach – it’s lazy, incredibly obvious and rude. If you value what the relationship with this partner on board will bring to your event, you need to dedicate the time, more so than they do.
By this time you should have some analytics set up for your website so that you can track traffic to your landing pages, referrals, and customer journeys across your site. We strongly suggest Google Analytics as it provides accurate and in-depth reports which you can customise to display correlations between different measurable metrics. What’s more, it’s totally free.
Each member of the team here at OggaDoon has experience and/or Google training in Google’s Analytics platform and we deliver comprehensive website analytics reports every month to track the progress and impact of the work we do, as well as drawing insights and making recommendations for future strategy and content. There are so many different metrics to track that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But, with an understanding of what those metrics are telling you, alongside a clear understanding of your own goals and milestones for your event marketing campaign are, it’s easy to know what is and isn’t worth tracking.
Push for Press
We put this consideration first in the ‘Promote’ section because, with some stories, press might want exclusivity meaning you’ll need to have it all planned in advance of your launch date. Exclusivity would require you to have not promoted your story elsewhere, on your own channels or with other media companies.
This isn’t necessarily applicable with smaller events as there might not be the same mass appeal as there would be with a large scale event. Nonetheless, your research at the planning stage should give you a good indication whether your targeted media companies would be interested in running this as a prominent story, or whether this might be on the smaller, local news scale.
When you’re ready, craft a press release and collate any additional media because it will be an intense week. Pushing out to press requires you to contact them and follow up throughout the week, all whilst keeping a close eye on your inbox or phone in case you get a response. Press can be a slow process, even if you are diligently following up with journalists. On the flip side, it can move extremely quickly and you’ll need to be reactive to ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity.
We do the legwork for clients, writing press releases and gathering appropriate media contact details well in advance, and then dedicating the necessary hours to try and secure your story in the press at the right time. The rapport we have with journalists alongside our writing skills has given us a great track record. For HAB Housing, we were able to secure exclusive Monday coverage in the Guardian’s finance pages which lead to a 92.25% increase in their website traffic and a 300% increase to the number of mentions HAB received on Twitter.
Just like journalists, partners need to be managed and followed up with to guarantee you’re maximising the potential of the partnership. It’s your responsibility to ascertain whether your partner has everything they need to market your event on your behalf and help spread the word. If it’s a question of scheduling, sharing or difficulties with uploading your content then you must be on hand to help resolve these problems as best you can.
We’re not suggesting you go into their website’s back-end or log into their social, but talking them through the steps and advising them can go a long way to guaranteeing that content gets shared – subsequently, you’ll build up a trust, and that in itself is priceless.
Shout-out on Social
With all that prep-work and planning complete, writing your first week of social should be a breeze. That advanced planning will give you time to craft reactive content and respond to your community during the week. Having the capacity to check in on your social and, most importantly, any trends will give you an advantage because you’ll have an opportunity to build rapport with your audience and elevate your content with trending hashtags and themes; we’ve seen evidence of this with all of our clients whose social we manage.
Thanks to our understanding of our clients and their business needs we are able to create targeted content strategies by segmenting audiences and crafting unique content to generate interest in their event. We’ve demonstrated our abilities to crack event marketing for our clients regardless of their industry and have a track record that we’re incredibly proud of, sparking conversations on social media and smashing ticket sale targets.
That brings us to the end of our guide but this shouldn’t mark the end of your marketing efforts for your event! Your event marketing should extend throughout the event and beyond – there are plenty of creative ways you can do this but we hope that this guide has given you the guidance and inspiration you need to fully promote your event up to this point!
It might seem like a lot, but this is what we live and breathe here at OggaDoon.
From discussing and confirming everything at the preparation stage to creating, curating and managing communications during the planning stage and beyond, we are happy to advise and implement at every step of the way, bringing our guerrilla marketing skills to your event. If you’d like to learn more about how we can support you and your event and the results we have delivered to clients in the past then get in touch with us here.