We love events here at CreatedRed Towers. Whether it's a great local networking event, a casual meet-up (like our very own Leeds HubSpot User Group) or a business conference, they're all good ways to make new connections and generate some leads for your business.
When it comes to marketing events, let's take a look at some great lessons we've learned from organising and promoting our own successful event, to help you with yours.
Running your own event is a good way to create opportunities, raise your own business' profile and make new business connections. After all, you'll guarantee your name is all over the promotional materials, as well as being the first person the attendees meet.
Of course, there are tried and tested ways to organise and promote an event, so hopefully our top tips on how to improve event attendance will help yours go more smoothly when marketing events of your own.
Let's dive in!
1 - Be proactive
I'll be honest, our first Leeds HUG meet up wasn't quite the extravaganza I'd hoped for. We had quite a few people booked on initially but some dropped out before the date and others didn't turn up at all (no confirmation I might add...tut tut).
We're all about learning and improving in our roles as marketers and always strive to better ourselves and learn lessons. From this one - quite a biggy - we looked back at our activities leading up to the event and realised that we hadn't actually been as proactive as we could have been.
We leveraged our popular blog audience and shared things regularly across our social channels, but we missed a big opportunity to get out there and promote things in person and by simply picking up the phone.
For our future events, we've adopted a much more aggressive strategy that builds on our solid promotional base whilst engaging with people in an outbound fashion too. Basically, we've turned the magnets on to attract attendees, but we've also started to lasso people who might be interested too!
So, getting proactive about bolstering the numbers:
- Start with your contacts and clients
If your event is a fit then they'll be likely to attend. If not, then they're likely to help amplify your promotional efforts.
- Put a social media schedule in place to make sure your event is getting noticed
- Look at other avenues of promotion
Blogs, websites and social media are awesome, but there are other platforms to help you double down on your promo efforts. Eventbrite is a winner in our books and unlocks access to 10,000's of local businesses looking for events across the boards
- Get on the phones!
A bit like building a buyer persona for your marketing, flesh out a mini-persona for your events and who they're aimed at and start targeting them in a more outbound way. Give them a call - you're not selling anything, but your event might be of interest/benefit to them and, again, they can help you to spread the word.
2 - Use both glaring and subtle ways to promote your event
It's another way to cover all the angles, but you've got to think big and small and in between when you're talking advertising and marketing. Social media channels and platforms like Eventbrite are big, loud megaphones to shout about what you're up to. However, if you're not harnessing the power of the subtle, ninja marketing efforts then you're not squeezing out every drop!
Some great, subtle means of raising attendance and awareness include:
- Stickers and social badges
Yep, a little bit like the 'well done' stickers you got after a trip to the dentist as a child. Everyone who books on to the event, give them a lovely social graphic and encourage them the share it. People love the feeling of being part of something and they'll happily shout about an event if you've got them really excited about it
- Free event swag
We love swag. You know, the cool pens, notebooks, sunglasses, branded bottles, etc. that you get when you go to exhibitions and networking. Introduce some of these into your event - before or after - and watch as people start talking about it to their connections and over their own social channels, as with the stickers.
- Posts in forums and niche websites
A good bolt on to your marketing strategy is to contribute regularly to websites and forums in your industry's niche. This approach can work wonders for your events too. So long as you're not jumping straight in there with a 'hey look at this, join my event', you'll find people quite receptive if it's something helpful and relevant to them.
3 - Don't give in just yet
It's very easy to do tons of work, get excited about potential results and then get hit with a big spoonful of real life when things don't quite pan out how you'd hoped.
Another honest moment: our first couple of HUGs didn't have people queuing up around the block to get in. That's not to say they didn't run really well, they just didn't have the numbers we'd hoped for.
If your event doesn't quite hit your targets, that doesn't mean you should throw the towel in. You just might not have found the right timing or approach yet.
Try talking it out amongst your business connections, especially those who've run successful events in the past and see if a fresh pair of eyes can shed some light on the matter.
4 - Focus on quality, not quantity
This point follows on nicely from number 3 in that, even with low turnout, you can make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Yes, if you've booked out a stadium and 20 people show up, then things might look a little bare. However, if you were expecting 40 people and 15 show up, that's not the end of the world and you can still have a great event, just shift the focus to something that works for the attendees that make it and always make it about the quality.
5 - Follow up, rebook, ask for feedback
It's hard to know what to improve when you don't know what to improve...
Sure, some things are obvious, like us in point number 1. We knew we hadn't pushed hard enough and our attendance proved this. But there are many things that you won't know until you ask. For example, were the speakers not relevant, talked to long, or too salesy? Is it the venue's location that's a problem, too far away, hard to find, expensive to park?
Make sure to either ask directly for feedback or set up a means to allow delegates to offer some suggestions and act on them.
By making your event the best it can be then you'll drive more people to it in the long run and get more from it.