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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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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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