We recently planned a large and very expensive event for a client. We were not involved in any marketing or awareness campaigns for the event, just the production and execution. At the end of the day, the number of attendees fell short. Here are some ways event planners can ensure the marketing team is doing its job in getting attendees at an event, so that all the hard work pays off.
Take some time to look at the historical data of the event. If the event has happened before there should be ticket numbers. Compare year over year for the last three years (at least) and then look at the calendar to see if there are any conflicting events on the same day. Crunching the numbers and knowing the timing should give you an accurate prediction of where this year's ticket sales trend will fall. If past data indicates reduced sales, or if you have a conflicting event, you may need to take extra steps (and spend extra budget) to keep your numbers up.
Influencer Marketing & Buzz-Worthy Experiences
A event page on a site like Facebook can tell you a lot: the number of people that plan to attend as well as information about who will attend. Pay attention to key influencers that may be interested in your event. Influencer marketing is a huge trend right now and these people can help you get more attendees. If your event count seems low, try reaching out to a few influential folks with free tickets, VIP experiences and other benefits that will get them to invite their friends and followers.
It may come as no shock but the event itself is the number one way to get traffic. Support marketers by creating buzz-worthy events that are exciting and have a real chance at going viral. Think of celebrity appearances, a trophy viewing, a sneak peek to a new product line or exclusive access to the best seats in the house. Have a strategic, coordinated effort of teasing the exclusive portions of your event via a mix of social, digital and print channels.
Social Media Outreach & Advertising
Diversify your digital marketing efforts at the beginning to do some testing of which strategy is working. This may include SEO, pay-per-click, running local ads, retargeting and more. Once you have some data, it's worth your while to take a peak at your event's website analytics. You can gain a lot of insight on who is visiting the site, their geographic location and what pages they are checking out. Website data can be a helpful predictor of event attendance. What's more, you can see which digital marketing efforts are working and scale up those with the most traction.
30% of all Americans' time spent online is on some form of social media. If social media isn't a part of your event marketing strategy yet, it's time to get on the bandwagon. The greatest part of the social platform for advertising is the audience targeting. You can target according to many different segments, such as Job Title or Company on LinkedIn and Demographics and Interests on Facebook. Each platform is slightly different and serves a unique purpose. Consider networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram for a start.
Check In With Marketing
Check in regularly on the marketing team, just to make sure that you are on the same page. If your attendance does seem low try to adjust the budget to increase advertising. Make sure that you are using all channels like social media, emails blogs and forums without duplicating efforts and that you are indeed collaborating in an effective way. If attendance still isn’t what you had hoped for, double down on the channels that are bringing people in. Maybe you extend a promo code or early bird pricing for a few days until you get attendance on track.
Let's say the worst-case scenario happens and your event date arrives and attendance is still under forecast. First, try to assess why this may have happened. Did you get some bad press at the last minute or was the weather less than perfect? This can help you do better next year. Then, take a deep breath and use this event as a stepping stone. Next year you will learn from your event experience and plan to make it a smashing success. Being resilient is a top quality in an event planner.
For more expert tips on planning your next well-attended event please contact Strategic Event Design.