All networking and conference events have to be marketed. Even high-profile sporting and concert events require extensive promotion. However, along the way, there are mistakes novice marketers commonly make that seriously hamper ticket sales. The result is a half-filled venue or more empty seats than you can count on your finger and toes. Know what these mistakes are and how to avoid them.
Incessantly Promoting the Event
While it’s hard to put an exact number on it, it’s probably not wise to be sending five event-related emails a day. This will make you come off as a haggling car salesman. We suggest starting promotions about three months out and begin at about one email per day plus a few social media posts. You can bump it up to two emails once you’re about two weeks out.
Sending a Confusing Message
We know this can be a bit tricky with the one email a day rule, but each email should only contain a single message. This keeps the information simple and easy for the follower to digest. Each correspondence should only have one campaign message followed by a call-to-action. In other words, if you have an early bird ticket sale and speaker confirmation, mention those in separate emails. As long as you start three months in advance, you’ll have ample time to make all the important announcements with one email a day.
Not Stating the Event Goal
Why should people sacrifice a weekend evening to attend your event? Be concise what kind of event it is and be clear about what they get out of it. First, identify the nature of the event. Is it a networking event, a trade show, or a Ted Talks-like conference with industry speakers? Also, what’s your promise to guests if they attend? Will they meet new employers, learn inner-circle industry information, receive in-person coaching, etc.? Establish early on the event type and its purpose.
It’s a PR nightmare for marketers when events badly fail to live up to the hype and promise. To avoid overpromising, be certain to include it in clear print that event activities and offerings are subject to last-minute changes due to unforeseen circumstances. You should also have a plan B in place if such changes do occur.
The Build-A-Bear toy store is an example of a company that overpromised and consequently suffered a horrendous PR fiasco. It hosted a “Pay Your Age Sale” event where parents can buy any bear for the same price as their child’s age. Far more people attended than anticipated, and stores had to turn people away due to safety and inventory issues. Needless to say, the parents who waited hours in line with their children were not too pleased and made their sentiments known on social media.
Think long and hard whether you can carry out certain offers and accommodations before announcing them.
Relying Solely on Your Own Internal Team
It’s all about the numbers when selling tickets. You and your company staff can reach X number of people. If you get your brand advocates into the fray, then you’re potentially looking at X number times 10. Identify your most loyal followers and have them refer the event to their own social media followers on your company’s behalf. In return, promise them something of value for their efforts, perhaps a VIP pass if they get Y number of their friends to purchase tickets.
Not Marketing to Your Demographic
You need to hone your marketing to your main demographic. What makes up your core audience? You should know the average age range, gender, economic status, etc. Certain groups respond differently to different forms of marketing. If your demographic is mainly female, for example, then you should market heavily through Pinterest, which has a 67% female user base. Likewise, if your demographic is mostly millennials and generation Z, then consider a heavy Instagram presence, as those two generations make up 61% of the social network’s user base.
Ignoring Post-Event Marketing
Some newer marketers focus solely on pre-event marketing. They completely forget that the marketing continues well after the event. Post-event marketing includes surveys, promotional offers, and posting event highlight content. This first post-event marketing needs to be done within a day of the event, followed by incremental follow-ups. Without post-event marketing, your followers will quickly forget about your brand as competing companies draw away their attention. People have short attention spans, so you need to continually remind them of your company perks.
Event marketing is largely a trial and error process. However, knowing these common mistakes puts you ahead of the pack and helps you avoid the common pitfalls.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Mask, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has five years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2 or view Mask’s profile on Eventerprise.
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