Wondering how to market an event? I have had the privilege of working on the marketing of events of all sizes. This has involved being a part of a team or tackling the task as an individual. There are some things that apply to all events. When you get these right, everything else somewhat falls into place.
Any event marketing plan should start with figuring out what the end result is. If you go into marketing without clearly defined goals it will prove challenging later on. How do you figure out that you have arrived if the destination is not set right from the beginning? Knowing your desired results will also put you into a position where you can reverse engineer the process.
Whether you are working with a client or on your own event, allow the time to figure out what a win looks like in this case. In most events it will be the number of sign ups. Perhaps the sales of tickets of a certain tier. For instance, an event may have consistently sold out the low tier tickets that are cheap. A potential goal would be to sell more of the pricier ones. This is what a marketing company or person will be tasked with achieving. Bringing in someone to do this should deliver better results.
Do not stop there. It does not have to be a single goal. You can set multiple goals for your event’s marketing. These could include what you want to be achieved as well as when you would like to see it achieved by. Setting your deadlines will go a long way when it comes to reversing the process.
What’s been done that’s similar?
Creativity is a key component of marketing. However, research is just as important, if not more important. As much as we are unique, you will often find that there are a lot of crossovers and similarities in the things that we come up with. You do not always have to reinvent the wheel. Use what is already available to build an even bigger and better result. Figuring out what has been done that is similar will also save you from some of the pitfalls that the events have encountered.
Working in the creative industry for events, I have often found that people are happy to share information. Reach out to them to figure out what they did that worked. Ask about what they tried that did not work. Even for the things that didn’t work, you are not looking to completely write them off. You are looking to find out how that process may potentially be improved. Some of the best inventions that we have today are a result of someone building on an existing idea.
You will not always get favourable responses when reaching out to people. That is alright. At times it is a numbers game, the more people that you reach out to, the more responses you will get. It also means that the information that you receive is more varied. The key to this sort of outreach is fostering relationships.
This can be done by either getting introduced by a person that is already connected to them, or by building the new relationship over time. People do not like to feel as though they have been robbed of knowledge. Have conversations and contribute to whatever they are working on before asking questions. My preferred method in the former one. Leveraging mutual friends works.
If the event you are working on is established, leverage the event’s status to build new relationships.
Is this a new event?
One of the things that you want to also take into account when thinking of an event is how long it has been going on for. There are different things that need to be considered when marketing a new event that may not be necessar
Why is this year better?
Enjoyed last year, let’s do it again this year! People are very sentimental. The best forms of marketing are those that take
Need is logical. Want? Not so much. Tap into this phenomenon. Gather media from previous events and make sure that it is seen. For those who didn’t make it to previous ones, it should be a case of “I cannot afford to miss out on this!” For those who have been to the event, it must become a case of “I ought to experience this again.”
What will it be like?
New events have less of this foundation to build on. What you can do is find a similar event and leverage it. So you liked “Such and Such” an event. You will certainly love our new one. Or It is like “Such and Such” an event, but bigger and better. Upsell your event. You would obviously want to make sure that you are not overselling it. Any claims that you make here will be put to the test. It is better to ensure that this is a test that you are prepared to excel in.
Tie an interest to the location. There are people who may be mildly interested in the event, but more keen on the location. The best way to get such people over the line is to market the location to them. By the same token, you will also find that there are people who are not aware of the location. If you can sell the location, you are one step closer to converting them where the event is concerned. Let’s consider some practical examples.
If I was marketing a cricket event taking place at the Lord’s ground, the venue would have to play a prominent role in my marketing campaign. There are people who have zero interest in the event but would be intrigued at the opportunity of visiting the ground. Moving from the Lord’s example, location as a whole can also be leveraged.
In this case it may the the city. For instance, I would be more inclined to consider a music festival in a coastal city than one that is in a major city. The key to marketing in this case would be to make sure that the benefits are made clear right from the start. Your entire marketing campaign can be hinged on this.
We would go with something like this: Tired of the hassle and bustle of city life? The trains, the traffic, the grumpy people… Time to take a load off. Head out to the coastal city of Swansea for “Culture Festival”.
With this as a guidelines you would then be able to create content in various forms. Video content may illustrate your point fairly well.
Sell the location. You do not have to entirely focus on pulling other cities or events to market yours. Great locations tend to sell themselves. Highlight all of the amazing things that those who come to your event will enjoy because of its location. One of my absolute favourite festivals is No.6. I say is, perhaps was is the best term. This is a festival that was held at the gobsmackingly beautiful Portmeirion in North Wales. Had I not been there, I would probably never have heard about it. Such is the beauty of the setting and richness in history that a whole campaign can be focused on that.
Address objections tied to the location
As beautiful as any place may be there are bound to be reasons why some people may not want to venture there. Some of the most common issues where events are concerned will include:
- It is difficult to travel there
- There is no parking
- It is not safe to go there
- There is no transport back from there late
- There is no direct bus/train that goes there
The list can go on and on. As a marketer, your job is to work the the rest of the event organisers to address each of these issues. You can come up with a solution that eradicates the objection. There is no space to park? Well, perhaps there is something that you can do to get some parking space for the patrons.
It is difficult to travel there? What can you do to take the guessing out of it all. One way would be to create journey plans from as many of the major cities as possible. Use these as part of your marketing material. You say it is difficult to get here? Well, from London you can get on… From Manchester you can get on… From Birmingham you can get on…
You’d probably want to cover various options as well as their cost.
It is not
Granted, it would be impossible to solve all of the objection. For the ones that you cannot resolve, you can go with what I like to call the offset method. This is when you stack the advantages against the objections. Magnify all of the great things that your event has to offer to the point where the potential attendees will see why it may be worth the trouble. I say “may”, but it should really be “is”. Convince them why it IS worth the trouble.
Clearly define your target audience
Who is this event for? Even if you have the best marketing material possible, if it is not seen by the right people, your campaign will fall on its face. Consider the people who would make the perfect attendees of your event.
- How old would they be? Place an age range to it
- Why would they be interested in your event?
- What sort of media to they consume?
The age range that you are targeting will determine the marketing channels that you would use as well as the material that you would create. For example, it would be wildly foolish to have a target audience of 65+ year olds and market through Facebook. You will reach some of them, but that is not the way that most of that age group consumes content. Take your content to the platforms that they use. Most 65+ year olds would listen to the local radio. That would be one of the best ways to reach them. Use it! They would also read a flyer if it came through their door. Get one through their door.
How old are they?
In a politically correct world, it has become difficult to discuss things such as age. They cannot be ignored. As much as we may want to remain young, our years not his planet comes with experiences. These are the ones that we want to tap into when we are marketing. Understanding your audience’s age will be key to finding the things that they can relate to. For instance, a Madonna marketing tagline no matter how catchy it is will go over the head of most 90s babies. That just was not their time. If you bring one about an artist or an event that they would likely know about, your campaign will likely be a hit. Such a seemingly small thing has massive consequences.
Where do they live?
The nature of the world
Most people will only engage or attend an event that is within travelling distance. How you market to those who are further from you location will play a massive role in determining whether or not they make the trip. It is the duty of the marketing team to ensure that the message is tailored to people according to where they live. This is what resonates with any objections that they might have.
What artists/activities do they like?
One of the biggest marketing trends in recent years is the use of influencers to market things. Big brands have all gone down this route. It is often cheaper than running a full blown marketing campaign. The result are often just as good if not better than those that you would get from most types of campaigns. Radio will reach everyone, without being really targeted. The same can be said about most print media.
Finding out what artists or activities that your target audience likes ensures that your campaign is tailored to this passion. There are various ways that you can then exploit this. The first one would be using the artists to reach their own audience.
“Hi guys, this is ARTIST NAME I will be at YOUR EVENT NAME on DATE. Be sure to join me”
“LOCATION, tag a friend who would love a date with ARTIST NAME.”
“Come and join me at EVENT NAME. Get your ticket”
Let’s say we go with all of these three messages. What would be the best channel through which to distribute it?
The simple answer is video. There is a much higher engagement rate on video content than there is on other forms of media. People do not like to read. Video is probably the easiest media to consume.
Now that we have our videos ready to go how would we deliver them?
If you said social media, you are absolutely right. In which case you can then go with paid or organic distribution. Paid tends to get a better reach than organic. That is the way that the algorithms have been set up. Paid distribution is more profitable to the sites than giving you organic reach. There is no reason that you should not be running both. To take it a step further, you can then use the artist’s page to distribute the message. There is greater targeted organic reach that way. Your results would be much better.
If you are going with an activity as opposed to an artist, paid advertising is the best way to go. You would then be able to target people who live in a certain location and like whatever product or activity you are advertising. This too will deliver good levels of engagement.
Potential objections and hurdles
Now that you have delivered your message to the right people, what could stop them from coming. This is where you are starting to ask, “What is your excuse?” There are always reasons that will stop your target audience from attending an event. The aim is to respond to these before they are rest. Let’s be honest, they are hardly ever raised to us. These are things that come up in private conversations that will not reach you. The best thing a marketer can do is to feed into these conversations.
A good marketing campaign will deliver talking points to the people who will end up being involved in said conversations. Raise advocates for your brand. We have seen this done so well by President Trump. Whenever things are about to hit the fan he goes on an assault to give a counter-tale to the prevailing one. Truth be told people will choose what they want to believe. All you can do is tell your side of the story. Give them enough information to make a choice.