Not every event promotion needs to cost a lot or take a lot of effort. In fact, there are a handful of very effective marketing tools that every event planner and stakeholder has access to that can get overlooked amid other activities. Planners who use some or all of these swear by them, finding that they can raise non-mandatory attendance by 33 percent or more and that mandatory event engagement and morale also soar.
- Email signatures: We all send hundreds of emails regularly, if not daily. By adding your event’s name, location, dates and website link, you make every email work as a free billboard. This is especially powerful when everyone in your company does it, creating a multiplier effect.
- Voicemail greetings: Few people change their voicemail greetings once they’re set unless they’re going out of town. Yet voicemail is where most callers land. Make this tool work for you and your team. Example: “You’ve reached Jane Smith at XYZ Association. Ask me about our annual conference in Orlando, or check out the link on our website. Please leave me a message with your name and number, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
- Start a relevant discussion: Identify online communities where your target market is present, read the tone and content of current discussions first, and then contribute. LinkedIn is one of the richest sources for these discussion groups – and the dirty little secret is that most discussions are highly self-promotional. Look for the top discussions (those with the most comments), and you’ll quickly see that they’re asking relevant questions, not plugging their wares. Assess your event topics, and then ask the group for its experiences or insights about one specific topic. Lastly, add a link to your event. The best news is you can use the same discussion in several discussion groups.
- Leverage your speakers and vendors’ networks: You carry a large portion of the burden for promoting your event, but you’re not the only one with a vested interest in its success. Your speakers and vendor partners have a tremendous amount of skin in the game. Give them email signatures they can use, invite them to tweet and post on social media that they’ll be at your event, and encourage them to tease some of the content.
- Tweet: Take presentation synopses and/or blog postings you’ve trimmed into salacious sound bites of 140 characters or less. With a little planning, you can schedule at least a couple of tweets each day to stir up excitement and awareness. Extra credit: Link your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn and Facebook pages.
Clearly, each of these tactics takes some time and planning, but when they’re part of an integrated promotional campaign, they can boost event awareness exponentially over some of the more traditional methods.