Can you remember the last event that you attended? Was it a trade show or a conference? A startup launch part or an intimate seminar? How about a fun golf outing or 5K?
All of these events probably seem vastly different (and indeed they are), but to the companies or brands that hosted them, they had a common purpose: to engage and entertain attendees and potential customers.
Event marketing stands to be an incredibly valuable strategy for all businesses, including education, technology, retail, medicine, and nonprofits. These events don’t only benefit the hosts and sponsors, but they also serve to enrich the attendees’ lives. Events have the ability to teach, inspire, entertain, intrigue, and bring individuals together in a way that other marketing efforts are unable to.
That is exactly why this guide has been created—to provide you with the information to leverage event marketing for your company. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is the simple act of planning, organizing, and implementing an event for the sole purpose of promoting a service, product, or brand. Event can occur online or in person, and organizations can host the event, participate as a sponsor, or attend as an exhibitor.
Event marketing can occur through an assortment of events. You could partner with a brand to sponsor a 5K, organize a roundtable of up to 10 guests, or set up a booth at a major trade show. Alternatively, you could host a huge multi-day event that has the potential to bring in thousands of attendees, speakers, and sponsors—like INBOUND, which saw more than 24,000 attendees from over 100 different countries and had more than 300 speakers in 2018.
It does not matter the event size as long as you are bringing value to your existing customers, your prospective customers, and your brand. We will touch more on building an event marketing strategy later, but for now, we are going to talk about the different kinds of event marketing that your organization can host, attend, or sponsor.
Common Types of Event Marketing
These are large events that are often organized and also hosted by a major company. They are sponsored by a relatively long list of smaller businesses and brands. These events are beneficial for both B2C and B2B brands. Conferences often provide the most dynamic agendas since they are filled with workshops, speakers, and opportunities for networking.
These are large events that are typically organized around a particular type of product or specific industry like medical devices or sales technology. Trade shows provide businesses the opportunity to showcase their services and products, and they often bring in the largest number of qualified leads. While conferences are events that are open to the public, those who attend trade shows are generally company representatives, salespeople, and pre-qualified buyers.
These are beneficial, education-centered events that are typically only attended by a limited number of individuals. These events involve lectures, discussions, and intimate opportunities for networking. Roundtables are very similar to that of seminars, though there are fewer attendees of comparable levels like teachers, surgeons, or CEOs. Both of these events will generally last no longer than a day.
These are temporary retail spaces that provide a controlled environment for companies to sell their products. These events are often organized by e-commerce brands that do not have a brick-and-mortar storefront to operate out of. In addition, these pop-up shops allow digital brands to essentially bring their brands to life through a physical setting for consumers.
These events are small and personal, and they are often held upon a big announcement the launch of a brand-new business, or just to celebrate a milestone or big success. Some organizations will hold an annual party to host and entertain clients or customers. Though these kinds of events should not be focused on a brand or product, a simple presentation or speech can help align the event with the organization and remind those who are in attendance why they are there.
These events are comparable to seminars and roundtables in the fact that they are focused on educating attendees by sharing knowledge. However, unlike those events, workshops are generally open to the general public. These events can be offered in-person and virtually, and though they are not usually promotional, they are generally centered on a topic that is relevant to the company, making the organization appear more credible in their industry.
Other types of event marketing can include customer-only conferences, job fairs, sponsorships, VIP experiences, networking sessions, awards events, and competitions (golf outings or 5Ks).
There are countless ways to market your company and products through events because, well, events just work.
All types of business owners and marketers agree:
Numerous experts have said that events are the best way to grow your brand and connect with your audience. Events tend to work because they are different from the other forms of marketing. They are entertaining, immersive, and memorable. Plus, they are useful for all businesses, regardless of the industry.
Event Marketing Benefits
Event marketing assists organizations in being successful, which has been shown above. But how is this done specifically? Why is it that you should invest in this particularly strategy for your own company? Here are just some of the benefits of event marketing.
It Generates Leads and Sales
Businesses opt to invest in event marketing due to the fact that events generate leads—50 percent of marketers report that their main reason for investing in events is because of leader generation and sales.
As the host of an event, the registration of the event alone can generate an entire list of individuals who are interested in your industry, product, or at the very least, fall within your target demographic. If you’re sponsoring or participating in an event, you can use a demo offering, e-mail list, or run a competition to collect leads.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of attendees who will convert while they are at an event. Believe it or not, nearly 80 percent of marketers in the United States utilize event marketing as a way to generate sales.
It Provides One-on-One Customer Engagement
A lot of software and e-commerce companies today never event get to meet their clients or customers in person, which is why event marketing can be valuable.
Nearly 50 percent of marketers believe that events are effective and efficient when it comes to reaching and engaging with existing and prospective customers.
Engaging current and potential customers at events essentially initiates personal interactions. These intimate, one-on-one interactions help to build brand loyalty and help customers with the humanizing of your brand. In addition, events can offer a reprieve from the various distractions of day-to-day work, which means that you have the chance to capture a person’s attention better than you do with an in-office pitch or over the phone. With that kind of attention, you have the opportunity to sell, or upsell, your services and products.
It Builds Brands Awareness
Participating in or hosting events is essential for businesses looking to establish or grow their brand. One study determined that more than 80 percent of organizations listed that their top goal for event marketing was to create or boost brand awareness.
Event marketing gives you the chance to associate a physical identity and appearance with an otherwise online brand. Like pop-up shops, events offer an immersive experience where customers and consumers can get a true feel for the brand and what it is like in person.
The great thing about utilizing events for creating and boosting brand awareness is that everyone likes to talk about events. Customers, consumers, bystanders, media, influencers—everyone talks about events on social media, in person, in the press, etc. So, holding or participating in events is a great way to educate and let people know of your products and brand.
It Encourages Industry and Product Education
Regardless of the event type that your organization participates in or hosts, there is probably an education component. This is what makes event marketing so incredibly successful—the fact that they do not focus completely on a product or brand.
Rather, they focus on entertaining and educating an industry or demographic—and promote services or products on the side. In fact, this actually makes for ideal marketing all around.
Building an Event Marketing Plan
Now it is time to discuss how you can implement the next event. It is important that your events have a marketing plan that is completely separate from any other marketing efforts that are done for your company. While it is fine to cross-promote, you should ensure that your event marketing is a standalone strategy.
Here ae a few questions that will assist in the building of you event marketing plan.
SMART goals: what are they? What is your budget?
When it comes to SMART goals, you are looking at Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By ensuring that your goals remain SMART, you will avoid having vague goals that will cause you issues later, such as a goal like “bring in leads”.
SMART goals also serve a dual purpose: to provide you with direction during the planning and implementation of the event and to help in the decision of whether your even was successful (and in the vent that it was not a success, to know how and where to improve).
A SMART goal example is to “grow the potential leads list for the new product by 100 names by the conclusion of the event”.
This goal is specific (potential leads for the new product), measurable (100 names), attainable and relevant (assuming your event is relevant and that there will be enough attendees at the event to get 100 names), and timely (by the conclusion of the event).
Keep in mind that you do not want to limit the event to a single goal. In addition, you will want to consider setting intangible goals like “engaging potential customers” and “strengthen relationships”. However, when it comes to fiscal and creative decisions, allow the SMART goals to guide you in the right direction and measure the backend.
Finally, don’t forget to determine your budget for your event marketing. This is very important since it will determine everything regarding the event from the website to the venue to the entertainment.
What Is the Brand, Theme, and Schedule of the Event?
Before you are able to market and promote your event, you have to know what content and information to market and promote. Prior to going further, establish the name, brand, theme, and purpose of the event. Why should anyone attend? What will they gain from attending? Is the event an offshoot of the company, or is the event a standalone brand?
Then, you need to determine when and where the event will take place. This is what most attendees will want to know.
Next, perform research and create an outline of the event’s schedule, including workshop sessions, keynote speakers, entertainment portions, as well as times for gathering and networking.
All of this does not have to be secured prior to promoting the event, but it is recommended to have an idea of what will be offered and who will be there before you start promoting.
Who Are You Marketing to, and How Do You Plan to Reach Them?
Determine who your target audience is. Who is it that will benefit the most from your event? What types of people would enjoy attending your workshops? Who would learn from your speakers? What types of people would engage your sponsors?
By taking the time to establish your audience, you will be able to target and invest in the most suitable marketing channels. Social media, e-mail, and your event website are obvious channels in today market, which is digitally saturated. If you are holding a local event, you should consider print advertisements. To reach more people, you should consider adding the event to an event listing site like Eventful, 10times, and Hey Event.
What Is Your Content Creation and Management Plan?
It takes a large amount of information to promote your event. To start, you need the what, where, when, who, why, and how. In order to manage all of that, you need to establish a solid plan to create and control that data.
Due to the event details likely not being available all at one time, you will be tasked with the responsibility of releasing, changing, and updating information for several months leading up to the event. Will this be done via newsletter? Who will be in charge of ensuring that the website stays up-to-date? Will you invest in an app for the event so that attendees have this information easily accessible at all times?
What Is Your Promotional Timeline?
To thoroughly engage your audience, it is a good idea to promote the event throughout the months and weeks leading up to it. It can help to draft an outline of a promotional timeline so that you are know exactly what and when to release. A timeline can also assist in piquing the curiosity of your attendees as new names or information is released at various times.
It is also wise to organize a multi-faceted promotion. Include an assortment (like direct mail, e-mail, print ads, social media, phone calls, and paid ads) in an effort to reach the maximum number of people.
One study found that 30 percent of individual would have attended an event if they had been aware of the event occurring in their area. So, just by getting the word out, you may see an uptick in registrations.
How Will You Market and Promote During the Event?
You shouldn’t stop marketing your event simply because the event starts. You should make sure to have some resources dedicate to promoting the event as it is going on. Attendees may be able to learn something new about the offerings, and for those who did not register, they may be curious as to what they are missing out on.
The majority of businesses utilize social media for engagement during the event. Nearly three-quarters of companies use social media to promote specific features and events while the event is happening, 55 percent use social media to post photos, and 35 percent use social media to boost product announcements.
Consider using Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live, or Live Tweeting during your next event.
How Will You Measure the Success of Your Event?
In the middle of a busy event, it is easy to look around and feel good about the engagement and attendance. However, this is not the most effective way to evaluate the success of your event.
Just like any other marketing investment, you need to have some key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can measure and evaluate the performance of your event. Here are some common KPIs you can use for event marketing.
Registrations and Check-ins
All the people who register for your event will not attend. You should compare the registrations to the actual attendance. You should also contact some of those who registered and did not check-in at the event. Look at the registration data to see when the fewest and most tickets were purchased and the kinds of tickets that were purchased (if a variety of packages/options were offered).
Revenue and Cost-to-Revenue Ratio
How much money was your event able to bring in? In the event that your event required a ticket to be paid for, gross revenue is an important measure of event success. You should compare that amount to how much you spent on the entire event. This particular comparison will help you in understanding the event value and the offered resources. Event aren’t cheap, and while they can be beneficial, they are not worth your company going into debt.
Did the event attendees enjoy the event? What did they enjoy the most and what did they participate in? Satisfaction may seem like a bit of an obscure metric, but it is important that you understand the attendees’ perspective and opinions of you event so that you know where it is that your event was successful and where you can improve. You should think about building a survey that asks them about their experience.
Social Media Engagement/Mentions
How frequently was the event discussed/mentioned on social media? What exactly was the overall consensus surrounding the event? Did attendees share content that engaged those that did not attend the event? It is incredibly likely – one study found that 98 percent of consumers develop digital content while attending events. In today’s highly digital world, social media is an incredibly solid measure of success and reach of an event. Look at event mentions on all social media platforms. To make it easier to track posts, consider utilizing a hashtag.
Lead Acquisition and Customer Conversion
One of the primary benefits of event marketing is acquiring leads and converting customers; therefore, it makes perfect sense that these should be measured. You should determine the number of qualified leads that are gained from the event, and then you should track how many of them are then converted into paying customers. This helps reveal the direct return on investment of the event and reveal the tactics that works for lead generation and conversion.
Up to You
It can be daunting to organize and implement an event, but if you tackle it little by little, then you can plan your event in no time at all. Regardless of whether your goal is to build your contact list, entertain new clients, or raise money for a nonprofit, event marketing can be a solid solution—and fun for your customers.
If you have questions or need assistance, contact us at WebDetail.