Events are a great way to deepen relationships with current customers and can help you attract new ones. When done right, events are also one of the best ways to get people to take the next step, from interacting with you on Facebook or reading your newsletters, to actually visiting your store, restaurant, or office. But successful events don’t just happen. To create a successful event, you need to develop a strategy that incorporates your different marketing channels so that you can promote your event, reach the right audience, and drive meaningful business results. Following are some “top tips” to help you run a successful event
Have a clear goal.
Think about what you want to get out of your event and, just as importantly, what you hope your attendees will get out of it by being there. For example, the goal of a retail store’s open house may be to increase foot traffic to the location. But what does the customer get out of it? Make sure to offer them an incentive to come, such as discounts, door prizes, or giveaways — in addition to the affordable merchandise, exclusive information, or other “just for attendees” benefits, of course.
Send a personalized invitation.
It’s a good feeling when you’re invited to a “special event.” Take the proactive approach in attracting potential attendees by sending them a personal email invitation. Make your customers feel wanted by sending them a finely crafted message that refers to them by name. Mary Smith will feel more of a personal connection from a “Dear Mary” invite than a “Dear firstname.lastname@example.org” or a generic “Hi there” salutation.
Get the details of the event out quickly.
Invitees should be given a brief description of the event and its purpose, along with the date and time. Make sure to give them a reason to attend: “Help raise money for an important cause while enjoying fine local cuisine,” for example. The goal of the concise and compelling What, Where, When, and Why information is to make it as easy as possible for the invitee to say, “Yes, I want to (and can) attend this event.” Ensure that your call-to-action — “Sign up for our event now” — is well placed. That is what will drive people straight to your registration page once they’ve made up their mind to attend.
Use an event page to keep people informed and up-to-date.
When promoting your campaign through multiple channels, it’s important to have a central landing page to link to, so people can find the most accurate and up-to-date information and details about your event. Make sure the date, time, location, and directions are included, as well as any other pertinent information, such as dress code and methods of payments accepted.
Leverage social media.
No matter what kind of event you’re hosting, posting regularly on your Facebook page, in your Twitter feed, and on other social media sites will help to build interest about the event. Announce a new speaker or any changes to your program through social media. Put the spotlight on a new sponsor who will be offering discounted offerings during the event, start a count down, give updates about how many people have signed up to attend or how much money has already been raised. The more you share, the more excited people will be to attend. Promoting your event on social media also spreads the word beyond those who have already been invited, which can increase attendance and get even more people interested in your event.
Send timely follow-up communications.
Your campaign doesn’t end when the event is over. Make sure to send out a post-event communication to both attendees and no-shows. You can thank those who made it to the event and provide any additional follow-up information, such as links to relevant presentations and photos of the event.
Share event highlights in your newsletter.
Photos, links, and even quotes from your follow-up survey will help set expectations and build buzz for the next event. People will be warmly reminded of the great time they had, and those who couldn’t make the event will see what they missed, hopefully making them more likely to attend a future event.
As part of your post-event follow-up, include a link to a short survey to gauge attendees’ thoughts. Keep the survey short, with questions relevant to the objectives of the event and its success. Make sure to have at least one open-ended text box that allows attendees to express all their opinions without having to conform to a few checkboxes. The ultimate goal is to figure out what worked well and what can be done better to make the next event much more rewarding for both you and your audience.
About the Author: Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9’s Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.