Think back to the last event you attended.
Was it a conference or trade show? An intimate seminar or startup launch party hosted online? How about a fun, socially-distanced 5K or golf outing?
To the brands or organizations who hosted the events, the purpose was to entertain and engage potential customers.
Holding events can be an extremely effective marketing strategy for a wide variety of businesses, including technology and education companies, non-profit organizations, medical practices, and retail stores.
Events not only improve the lives of those who host and sponsor them, but also those who attend them. Events are a great way to inspire, teach, and bring people together. They can also be a great way to entertain and intrigue people.
We created this guide to help you use event marketing for your business. Use the chapter links below to jump ahead or keep reading to get started.
What Is Event Marketing?
Event marketing is the process of creating and executing an event to promote a brand, product, or service. There are three ways to get involved in events: hosting, exhibiting, or sponsoring. Events can either be in person or online.
Event marketing refers to a variety of events. A possible course of action would be to gather a group of 7-10 people for a roundtable discussion, partner with another company to support a 5K race, or set up an exhibit at a large trade show. Another option would be to host one of these online.
If you want to host an event that is similar to INBOUND, you would need to plan for it to last multiple days and include many attendees, sponsors, and speakers. ated thousands of attendees from around the world. Inbound 2022 will host sessions both online and in-person and attract thousands of attendees from around the world.
As long as you are providing value to your customers, potential customers, and brand, the size and platform of your event does not matter. We will discuss how to develop an event marketing strategy further below.
Types of Event Marketing
What are some different types of event marketing your company could host, sponsor, or attend? Although the events listed below can take place in person, they can also be done virtually.
Conferences are events where a bunch of companies get together to try and sell you their stuff. They’re typically organized by one company, with a lot of smaller brands sponsoring it. Conferences are valuable for both B2B and B2C brands. Events that typically offer the most dynamic agendas are filled with speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities.
Trade Shows and Expositions
Trade shows are large events that are organized around a specific industry or type of product. For example, there are trade shows for sales technology or medical devices. World trade shows are a great platform for businesses to showcase their products and services to a large audience. These events usually result in a high volume of quality leads. While conferences are open to everyone, trade show attendees are usually pre-qualified buyers, company representatives, and salespeople.
Seminars are valuable events that are attended by a small number of people. They are focused on education and often hosted online. They involve discussions, lectures, and intimate networking opportunities.
A roundtable is a meeting of a small group of people, where each person has an equal say in the discussion. This is similar to a seminar, but usually there are even fewer attendees, and they are all at a similar “level”, such as CEOs, surgeons, or teachers. Both events typically last no more than one day.
Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces that act as a controlled environment for companies to sell their products. Brands that only operate online typically hold pop-up shops. Pop-up shops allow digital brands to create a physical, immersive setting for their customers. This allows customers to experience the brand in a new way and creates a more personal connection with the company.
Launch Parties and Celebrations
A launch party is a small, personal event held to celebrate the launch of a new business, a big announcement, or a success or milestone. Some companies throw an annual party to show appreciation for their customers or clients. Although events shouldn’t be entirely focused on a product or company brand, a short speech or presentation reminding attendees of the purpose of the event can help to align it with the company.
Workshops, seminars, and roundtables are all focused on sharing knowledge and educating attendees. Unlike seminars and roundtables which are typically only open to those within the organization, hackathons are open to the public. Workshops can either be done in person or online, and even though they aren’t usually for promotion, they generally focus on a topic that is related to the business… which makes the company look more reliable in its field.
Other types of marketing events include job fairs, customer-only conferences, networking sessions, VIP experiences, sponsorships, awards events, and competitions.
Events are an effective marketing tool because they provide an opportunity to directly engage with potential customers.
Events are a great way to connect with your audience and grow your brand, according to multiple experts in a recent article on the ultimate marketing advice. Here’s a direct quote from Kenny Nguyen of ThreeSixtyEight (who spoke at INBOUND):
In the future, businesses will use event strategies to make themselves stand out from the competition, since human experiences will become more important than ever before. This will be especially true for businesses that can’t rely on technology to differentiate themselves. To have a successful event, you need to figure out what memory you want your attendees to have, and then plan everything accordingly.
Events are successful because they are different than other types of marketing. They’re immersive, entertaining, and memorable. They’re also useful for businesses in any industry
Event Marketing Channels
After you’ve picked a format for your event, it’s time to consider which marketing channels will help you reach potential attendees and generate interest in the event.
There are many different ways to market events, both online and offline. These include advertising, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, social media marketing, distributing flyers, networking in person, and outdoor advertising such as billboards and posters. This text discusses various types of events, both online and offline. These include networking events, conferences, product demos, webinars, live streams, and more.
Pay Per Click
PPC is a way of advertising on the internet that allows you to target a specific audience. For example, if you search for “event marketing” on Google, you will see several results at the top of the page, above the main area. These are pay-per-click ads, and you pay a set amount every time someone clicks on your ad. The goal is to attract people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer based on their search history.
In reality, the conversion rates for this type of adverts are now quite low, inferring qualification through search doesn’t work in a targeted way and the PPC market has become saturated meaning it’s costly to bid on high-value keywords, you’re paying if someone clicks, not on whether they convert. Overall, events are still one of the primary marketing channels, but they can be very wide, costly, and ineffective unless properly administered.
If you want to generate traffic that will last and an audience for your event, creating content is a great way to do it. However, from an ROI perspective, it is only worth it if you have a large event and a long marketing timeline. You won’t see positive results unless you combine the right social strategy with your short-term goals.
Social Media Marketing
The promotion of events through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are three primary ways you can use social media to generate interest in an event. You can use your business’s social media accounts to promote your business to your current audience and use your contacts and connections to reach a wider group. Social media platforms earn most of their revenue from advertising. They offer a good amount of targeting options for their ads. LinkedIn is the best social media platform for ROI if you’re paying for B2B events.
Paying social media influencers to promote your company or product is a growing trend in marketing. This can include content promotion, such as videos. This strategy might not be as effective for smaller, specifically located events. It could be costly to use this strategy for smaller events.
Email Marketing & Newsletters
Email marketing is a very effective way to market your event. By gathering data, you can target and reach out to the audience you want to attend your event. However, unless you understand advanced marketing techniques, data collection, and GDPR, you’ll likely need to have a marketing agency carry out this work for you.
This type of email marketing involves paying a well-known blog or influencer to promote your product or service through their email newsletter. This is often ineffective for event promotion as newsletters are not generally geo-targeted, curated, or up-to-date.
For B2B events, flyer distribution is not an effective means of marketing and will not reach the intended audience. However, for B2C events, it is still one of the most affordable and effective ways to generate an audience.
Network science has found that people with similar interests tend to be connected, so you can use your connections to get introduced to the right people. If you’re looking for ways to market your event, we recommend using your network and attending similar or related events. The only issue is that it’s not a viable long-term solution and it’s also quite time-consuming.
Offline Billboard/Display Advertising
Large B2B and B2C events are the only events that make sense to advertise on billboards or posters on the tube from a cost perspective. Although online advertising dominates the market, brands are trying to make their offline advertising more noticeable to consumers.
What To Prepare Before You Market An Event?
After you’ve chosen how you want to format your event and which channels you plan to use to market it, you need to make sure you have all of the basics taken care of.
Define Your Audience
Who do you want your event’s audience to be? Understand who they are and how you can appeal to them. Who the event is for should always be specified. Who are you expecting to show up?
People who the event is irrelevant to will be discouraged to register, and people who the event is relevant to will be more likely to register. It’s nice to know that there is an event that has been specifically designed for your interests and needs.
Create A Strong Value Proposition
Much of the success of an event rests on the initial planning, when the organizers decide on the event’s theme and format. You need a strong value proposition and unique selling proposition that will resonate with your target audience.
The event organizers should choose a topic that is interesting, current, and highly relevant to the audience, and the format of the event should take into account the content and experience of the audience. Your value proposition is what will entice attendees to want to come to your event. This is something you should spend a lot of time on.
Prepare And Plan For Your Event
You should take care of all the planning and logistics at this stage, such as location, catering, and speakers. Make sure the event is prepared and meets the expectations of what you’re marketing to potential attendees.
How Will You Measure Your Event Success?
Here are a few common KPIs for event marketing.
Registrations and check-ins
Not everyone who registers for your event will attend. Do your registrations match your attendance? If not, you might want to reach out to people who registered but didn’t attend. reviewing your registration data can give you insight as to when most and fewest tickets were bought, as well as what types of tickets were popular. This is especially helpful if you offered a variety of ticket packages or options.
Revenue and cost-to-revenue ratio
How much money did your event bring in? Revenue generated from ticket sales is an important metric to gauge the success of an event that required a paid ticket. What is the difference between the amount you spent on the event and the amount that I spent on the event? Comparing your event to others will help you understand how valuable it is and what resources are available. Although events can be costly, it is not worth going into debt in order to attend them.
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