Meeting planners looking to connect with potential attendees and get them excited about upcoming events often turn to traditional marketing and outreach methods such as trade advertising, online banners, and direct email solutions. But there are other affordable and easily implemented promotional vehicles that can help capture the audience’s attention. These event marketing rules can drastically boost public enthusiasm about your conferences without requiring a massive expenditure or effort.
1. Connect with your community. Want to hammer home why your event will speak directly to your audience’s specific needs? Get attendees involved in meeting programs upfront by inviting them to help steer programs, submit comments and suggestions, or contribute multimedia content via internal, online, social media, strategic partners, or other readily available distribution channels. You can use their submissions to help select program and track topics, incorporate their questions and insights into presentations, and easily save and repurpose the content for other initiatives. Similarly, conducting advance surveys and polls, then revealing surprise findings at your gathering, also can be a great way to heighten interest while incorporating participants’ input. Encouraging audience members to speak up, share news, and get involved with upcoming programs gives them more reasons to engage with your event and tell others about it.
2. Partner with program speakers. As thought leaders and industry personalities, speakers frequently can help drive event awareness and boost potential audience reach. Don’t be afraid to ask them to share blog posts, spread mentions on social networks, and provide videos, podcasts, and original articles for publication and promotion in industry trade publications. Always look for ways to connect presenters with audience members before their actual presentations. Meet-and-greets, breakfasts, teleconferences, group videoconferencing sessions, and other live or online programs present ample opportunity for speakers to engage with audience members, share expert insights, and gain feedback that can help shape and inform presentations.
3. Capitalize on content marketing. Search engines have become the new frontline for customer interaction. And in a world where organizations are defined more and more by their online footprint, industry pros must realize that we’re all in the publishing business now. Given content’s increasingly disposable nature, the web’s explosive growth, and the boom in mobile devices, content marketing efforts should be an ongoing part of every association’s promotional efforts. Happily, not only is your own organization filled with subject matter experts who can serve as ambassadors via blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and other outreach channels, events provide the perfect opportunity to tap experts, executives, and community leaders for learning, insights, and advice, which can be used to generate added value and help raise awareness all year long.
4. Create reasons for attendees to keep coming back. If you want to keep audiences abreast of upcoming events year-round, give them reasons to seek out more information about your programs by giving them a constant stream of value-adding material. Luckily, there are dozens of ways to take content you’ve already been creating via your event programs to establish an ongoing thought leadership position. For example, if you’ve already been sharing hints and tips captured at meetings and conferences on your organization’s blog, compile it into an ebook or guide as a unique takeaway that also cements your organization’s expertise. For added impact, consider updating material and adding new chapters to prior works, then promoting media awareness around the launch of new editions. You might also design an audio or video podcast series hosted on your event or association’s website.
5. Collect and respond to fan feedback. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with audiences and build loyalty after events have concluded. After all, the point isn’t just to create satisfied customers, it’s also to keep them coming back. When your event is over, don’t be afraid to promote social sharing and engagement by asking how you can make the next one even better. Go beyond simple surveys and questionnaires by reaching out to participants and speakers via your website, email newsletters, surveys, and social channels to find out what they loved and would like to see more of in the coming months. Encourage them to suggest future topics and program setups, provide feedback on their experiences, and brainstorm even better ways to share event highlights and learning—it’s never too early to get audience members involved.
A little advance planning and creativity, combined with everyday off-the-shelf technologies, tools, and solutions, can help you create more effective ways to market and promote any event. Best of all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat: Do some experimenting. Mix and match these ideas—you’ll find that you can combine them to create heightened awareness before, during, and after your meetings and events. When it comes to keeping audiences interested and excited to spread the word about current and future programs, you may find many of the most effective solutions hiding in plain view.
Award-winning professional speaker Scott Steinberg is a trends expert and futurist, and the bestselling author of Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty, The Business Etiquette Bible, and Millennial Marketing: Bridging the Generation Gap. He also is the founder of travel and hospitality trends magazine SELECT: Your City’s Secrets Unlocked™, and host of Next Up on NewsWatch. Learn more at www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.