Do you prefer image-based or text-only emails? When you visit a website, do you notice how it looks? Do you pay more attention to Facebook posts with pictures? Are you one of the many millions of people on Instagram or Pinterest?
Then you should be paying attention to the visual content of your event marketing campaigns. It’s great that you have an event logo. Bravo for creating a PowerPoint template for your speakers. But that’s not enough.
Think about it the first posters Apple used to advertise the iPod: a silhouette of a person dancing with white wires coming out of their ears and a rectangular object in their hand. Here’s an example.
How does this image make you feel? What do you imagine is happening here? Is it a feeling that you want to have?
Now imagine if you tried to write copy to describe it. What would you say?
Clearly, words alone can fail to evoke the same emotional connection or intellectual activity that a picture does. I don’t know if you remember life before iPods, but most headphones and earbuds were black. When you saw white earbuds in public, you knew the person attached to them didn’t have a generic MP3 player in their pocket. They became affiliated with the experience the poster advertised. And everyone, whether they had an iPod or not, had a strong feeling about that. (Or at least they did on the trains I rode.)
You only have a second to make a statement about your event. Make it bold. Then lead people back to your website where they can read more.
And don’t stop there. A strong central image is the easiest way to give your event a theme. Carry it through from your emails to your signage, PowerPoint slides, table tents, event apps, name badges, show programs, social media campaigns and collateral. You want people to instantly recognize your event, no matter where they see the promotion.
We experimented with this for our 2014 series of PYM LIVE Events, and the response was enthusiastic. In every city we visited, someone complimented us on the central imagery. They admired its professional quality, the look and feel it gave them, and the beauty of the work. And all we did was marry the logo with an iconic shot of the venue using an interesting background and typography.
Here’s what we used for our social promotion of PYM LIVE Atlanta last year.
The email version was slightly more rectangular. The banners we used for the app were even more edited, but still recognizable (example below).
The show programs played off the email design and name badges featured the signature color and background imagery but put the attendee’s name front and center. The PowerPoint slides featured the “ripped” effect we used for the emails and social promotions to display content (see below).
For subsequent events, we adapted the theme with a specific color and image for each city. Here’s what San Francisco’s show program looked like.
The experiment was so successful, we’re sticking with the visual theme for 2015 PYM LIVE Events. You don’t need an in-house design team to create your own visual theme. Start a free account with canva.com, and you’ll be able to make Facebook banners, PowerPoint templates, invitations and more using templates and your own logos and images.
Then let us know how that changes people’s response to your marketing. If you’re already using a unified visual vocabulary in your event marketing, we’d love to hear how you use it to raise awareness and create continuity. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. And if you are interested in learning more event planning advice from us in person, see if PYM LIVE is coming to a city near you.