Putting on events can be exciting, community engaging and strenuous.
However, there is nothing more frustrating than putting work into an event and then not have people show up.
But you’re not going to have that problem, right? Here are seven to dos for event promotion to encourage attendance year over year.
1. Develop a hashtag for each event:
Hashtags — such as #CPAPressForward — can be used on a variety of social platforms, and can create a buzz before, during and after the event.
This is something you should develop early on, normally once you’ve established the theme for your event. You should change the hashtag each year even if its just changing the year — #hashtagsrock2017.
Hashtags are also a good way to create additional marketing for your presenters and sponsors, so you will want to ensure your sponsors and presenters know the hashtag well in advance.
We recommend that the hashtag is included in all your promotions, and you should encourage sponsors, presenters and those who sign-up to use it prior, during and after the event.
During the event, be sure to post to your social media sites often using the hashtag, which can create an event forum online outside of the normal friends and groups.
Don’t get too worried if people don’t use it often before the event, as that is as much marketing for the event and for next year. Make sure to highlight it during the event for people to use in real time.
Year over year, the number of people who will start using the hashtag prior and during the event will increase.
2. Ensure you have an event landing page:
If you don’t have an events landing page on your site, make sure to get one. If you can't create a landing page on your site, consider creating an event page on Facebook to send people to and link from your site to there.
In addition to basic information of the event on the site's landing page, include items that allow for “Dwell Time” — such as video, photos and blogs (see below).
Research shows the higher the Dwell Time — items that engage viewers and cause them to spend more time on the page — the more likely someone is to take action. Dwell time items can also be used in other marketing functions, such as social media or email blasts.
3. Use video and photos:
Images matter, as most people are visual.
Either use photos or video from previous year’s events to promote your events. Place on the event landing page and in other marketing efforts. Use heavily in social media.
Also consider doing updates with Facebook Live, as it will get better reach.
4. Get 'Blog'-ed down:
Encourage people who attended or presented last year, or will be presenting this year, to blog about the event or why they find value.
Why Blog? Because it creates a feeling intimacy and expertise.
The blog can either be on your site or linked to another site. If the latter, ensure to backlink it from the your site and the blog site to increase Search Engine results.
Can’t find someone to blog about the event? There is always you!
5. Create a sponsor/partner logo for each event:
Use this to give to your sponsors so that if they choose, they can print off and place at their business, add to their website or attach to emails when they send out.
In short, it creates promotion for them and you. Win, win!
Also encourage partners and sponsors to link to the event if they place information on their webpages. This will improve SEO results for both companies. Again, it's a win, win!
6. Consider a giveaway:
A good giveaway never hurts attendance and could help with some of your paid marketing efforts. If possible, have your sponsors provide some giveaways.
7. Come up with a seven-list item:
Research shows that people remember items better in threes and sevens, so come up with lists like “3 things: … or “7 things to know about.”
And this seems like a good way to round out this list.
If you have questions or would like help in planning an event, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry Raehal is the CEO of Colorado Press Network and the Colorado Press Association. He likes events and has spent way too much time thinking about how to make them better. And that’s good for you. He and his team have helped the CPA annual convention to grow in attendance and dramatically increase sponsorship using a variety of methods year over year.
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