How far does an event go without a plan?

No matter how magnificent the visuals look, any event without an agenda is bound to fail. A lot can (and will) go wrong. Your exhibitors might fail to get the standees designed on time, the speakers might go AWOL, and the booth representatives might not be manning their booths. 

This is why event planners always use an event management plan and agenda. A small part of this is the event marketing plan – because if people don’t come, how will they do what you want them to do? How will your event drive success without attendees?

Nailing the attendance bit of every event is crucial to success. So, let’s get straight to it. 

1. Define the Goal for Your Event

First, you need to identify why you’re organizing the event in the first place. Do you want to connect buyers with exhibitors? Do you want to generate sales for them? 

Or do you just want to educate attendees and help them network with others in their industries? 

Setting your event objectives and key measures (OKRs) will help you scale your marketing efforts. If you’re looking to increase vendor sales, what level of sales will qualify as a success for you? And in order to get those sales, how many attendees will you need? These are all important questions that’ll help you get started on the right foot. 

This will help you identify the following:

  • What ‘attendee needs’ should you target in your marketing efforts to get the right audience to attend?
  • What kind of marketing budget do you need to assign for your goals?
  • How will you measure success?

2. Choose Your Channels

The next step is to identify where you’ll find your target audience. If you’re setting up a job fair, the right channels to market for this would be the usual suspects — such as your website, social channels, and Google Ads — but also more focused channels like job listing websites. 

an image of an LRF social media event promotion post

Given how quickly digital marketing changes these days, you need to research channels that would be the most relevant to your audience. Here’s a list of possible channels to add to your event marketing plan:

  • Facebook: B2C companies targeting millennials, Gen-X, and Boomers 
  • Facebook Groups: Niche communities – there’s a Facebook group for every interest, profession, and hobby out there. 
  • LinkedIn: Business professionals
  • LinkedIn Groups: Business professionals with specific interests and niche communities
  • Twitter: General public interested in what’s trending
  • Instagram: Millennials and Gen-Z 
  • Email: Your existing list of prospects
  • Google Ads: Paid search for anyone looking up your keywords
  • Company blog: Organic search
  • Press releases: Publications

3. Design Email Marketing Campaigns

an image of Zoomtopia's event marketing email

No matter what channels you target, email should be one of them given the consistently high ROI it delivers across industries and verticals. And it’s a great way to target your existing lists as they’re already interested in your brand and operations.

To plan these out, create an email marketing plan for your event. Define the following:

  • Define the number of emails to be sent out. This will also include the number of reminders you’ll be sending out.
  • Choose the lists you’ll target. Make sure they’re only your contacts and have opted to receive emails from you. 
  • Define the content for each email. Include the date and time in each of your communications, along with a registration link. 
  • Set the time for each of the email blasts. 
  • Define any A/B tests you’ll want to run.
  • Track opens, registrations, and click-through rates. 

Pro tip: You can integrate your email marketing platform with vFairs to get more in-depth information about your attendees’ journeys from their first impression all the way to the event’s wrap. 

4. Design Visuals and Copy for Social Media Promotion

an image of an event promotion social post

Create the marketing collateral for your social media posts. This will include both the captions for your posts and the visuals that accompany them. 

Design UTMs for each of the posts so you know which channels are driving the most engagement. This will also help optimize your promotional efforts. 

It’s worthwhile to consider creating a unique event hashtag and using them in your promotional activities, including social posts. A catchy hashtag is not only great for branding, it’s also an easy way for you to do some social listening. Tracking your hashtag across platforms will help you see what audiences are saying leading up to, during, and even following the event.

5. Get All Partners on Board

If you’re partnering with other entities for your event, such as exhibitors for a trade show, you’d want to coordinate with them and collect marketing collateral from them. 

You’d also want them to promote you from their marketing channels to create a ripple effect. Speakers and exhibitors can give your event a shout-out and let their audiences know that they’ll be making an appearance at the event.

6. Design Marketing Collateral to Be Displayed at the Event

For your virtual events, you’ll need banners and standees to be placed at various locations. While you’ll get some of these from your partners, you need to promote your own brand as well. After all, you are the organizer! 

an image of event marketing

The welcome banner in the main lobby should prominently feature your brand and the conference. You’ll also want to place any logos or ads across the halls or booths depending on the design of your virtual space. You can also host videos and PDF resources at your event. 

Assign all these resources to your graphic and marketing team. Set a due date for them to be delivered in time for your event. Remember, you’ll also need time for revisions. 

7. Measure Success

an image of an event dashboard

Once all that’s done and dusted, you’ll want to know what worked and what didn’t. Track the performance of each of your channels via UTM links, click-through rates, ROI (in case you invest in Google Ads). You’ll also want to see how many registrations you got from each of your channels. Create a spreadsheet for this purpose and regularly update it till your event goes live!

Conclusion

An event marketing plan will help you align your marketing needs with your event needs. It will also help you strengthen your branding, get your event across more eyeballs, and prep your event for success. 

Be sure to start off with well-defined goals, then choose the right channels for your marketing efforts, design all your email marketing campaigns, get your visuals on track, ask partners to contribute, design the relevant marketing collateral, and closely monitor the performance of each channel.

 

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