Every year you’re in charge of the big event. You know your audience. You know the hotel and catering teams. You’ve been doing it so long that you even know to ask the concierge about her daughter. Given the great location and how easy it is to work with the remote staff, you locked in a multiyear contract with the venue, saving your company tens of thousands of dollars annually.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the organizers behind the biggest event in your industry announce they’re changing the date of their annual conference. It will be held the same week, or right before or after, your event. Despite your attendees’ loyalty, they’ll have to choose, and the odds are not in your favor.
This news isn’t great, but it doesn’t mean your event will be eclipsed. Here’s how to attract, engage and retain your target audience and prevent last-minute no-shows.
Shift your marketing strategy
This shift should include three actions:
- Refine your agenda. Take another look at your lineup of speakers and content and compare it with the bigger event so you can identify your top differentiators and tweak the copy where necessary.
- Build on that list of differentiators and include other elements that make your event unique — the intimate setting, one-on-one consultations and access to keynotes, for example.
- Comb through your data and feedback from past events to gather attendee quotes and stats such as the total number of people per session, deals made, partnerships formed, businesses launched, etc. You’re looking for facts and sparklers you can use to reiterate the value of attending.
Now you’re ready to engage your audience more fully and boost registrations using the most cost-effective marketing tools available today – email and social media.
Your audience on social media, email
Feeling the heat of competition, you might be inclined to launch an aggressive marketing campaign. But too much of a good thing can backfire if your audience tunes out your messages. Try this to engage attendees effectively without wearing out your welcome:
- Segment your email contact list by such categories as previous attendees, tracks, job title, etc. Then go back to your list of differentiators and align the most relevant ones with the interests of each segment. Then, personalize your messages.
- Be creative with your Facebook event page. In addition to posting comments and video interviews from previous attendees, use it to start conversations and spark dialogue. For example, ask open-ended questions, take a poll and connect attendees with each other. The more engagement that occurs with and among attendees before the event, the less likely they are to cancel.
- Check in with event sponsors and other organizations that are attending to see if they have exclusive news they plan to announce at your event. If so, offer to add your marketing muscle for maximize exposure. This is a great way to bring your audience together, foster stronger ties with the news-making company and be known as the little event where big things happen.
This might all seem like extra work, but it’s really not. Integrating your email and social media efforts streamlines your outreach, saving you lots of time. Essentially, your story and facts don’t change, but the medium does, letting you repurpose content across a variety of channels for optimal reach and engagement. Just be sure to freshen up the text every time you reuse content.
Please weigh in on these strategies — good, bad or indifferent? What works or doesn’t work for you? Use the comment box below to keep the conversation going.