So, what's event marketing? I like to think of it as an exciting themed activity, occasion, display or exhibit to promote a product, cause or organization. An event has more going on than a sale or day-to-day business advertising or referral sales. It's like giving a party.
Different from one-way advertising, an event is designed to draw customers to you and be interactive with fun, food and sponsors. Successful events use lots of different advertising and social media tools to capture attention for attendance — and turn attendees into regular patrons.
Like any party, an event used in marketing takes time to organize, plan and execute. An event is typically targeted and has two goals: to engage your current customer base to increase store patronage, and to attract prospects to give you the opportunity to convert them into customers.
Here are some steps that can help to get your successful event going.
Pick the theme. Identify your target audience for the event. The theme is usually driven around customer type, key products, a health need or current event. Your theme should have a USP (unique selling proposition) and identify WIIFT (What's in it for them?).
Define the components. Brainstorm the event objectives, components and budget. Set specific goals for attendance, capturing new prospect leads or sales revenue. Remember that events are used to build awareness, expertise visibility and business buzz. Many times immediate sales are not generated, but sales grow following the event based on the contacts, follow-up and good will.
Set up a simple spreadsheet with activities and key dates to manage multiple elements and timing for ordering a banner, placing advertising, Facebook postings and renting supplies, etc. Note the person responsible for each element.
Sponsor support. If you don't ask for help, you won't get it. Manufacturers can provide samples, contest prizes, food, displays, speakers, sales rep support, copy for ads and emails, co-op advertising and more.
Promotion and publicity. Your event won't get attention unless you get the word out. Radio stations might offer advertising that includes a live, remote broadcast from your event, drawing people with giveaways and promotions.
Be sure to consider window posters, bag inserts, calendar listings in the media, fliers, employee share on Facebook and outside store banners. Sales reps should make personal contact with referral sources about the event at least three times. Email your customers with a link to your events web page or Facebook page. Use direct mail and print advertising as an event reminder in addition to your email campaign.
Online and social media. Showcase the event on your website. Make your Facebook page a part of the event, perhaps having people vote on finalists in a contest. If the event is for professionals only, promote it with LinkedIn Events.
Email marketing programs enable recipients to share your emails on their Facebook page and other social sites. Go to your Twitter page and tweet about the event with a link to your events page.
Managing the event day. A timetable for the event day helps all involved. Everyone should know their roles during and after the event. If you are running door prizes, make sure the entry form has spots for name/signature, address and email along with a permission statement to email the recipient if they win and are not present (and to email other information in the future). The gold is in the lead.
Don't let any participants leave without a reason to come back. Have a coupon for their next visit, announcement of your next event or a flier on an upcoming sale.
Follow-Up. You have participants' email addresses. Thank them for coming, and ask them to complete a survey you developed using a free tool such as SurveyMonkey. Add a link that has your event photos posted on Flickr, and post video on Youtube. Upload photos to your Facebook page.