Pre-event marketing takes time, and time is something of which most event managers have very little. The amount of time marketing takes falls into three important categories we’ll call the “Big Three Time Buckets”:
- Time to build a message. What will move an audience to show up and participate?
- Time to develop, write, design, review/approve and produce effective communication. The part everyone focuses on and wants finished. Yesterday.
- Time to react. For recipients of the marketing to see it and take action.
As I like to tell my clients, we are responsive and proactive, but there are certain laws of physics that cannot be bent. So, with deadlines looming, attendance or engagement below desired levels, what can be done to accelerate any or all of the Big Three Time Buckets? (The anwet: Quite a lot, actually.)
Build a message with a bullet
Not surprisingly, the key content in pre-event marketing communication usually comes from executives who have very little time to spare, and typically cannot give the event a moment’s thought until a few weeks beforehand. This puts meeting managers in a bind for communications that have real teeth. Here are some great fall-back communications that, while general, still work wonders if that happens to you:
- Use testimonials from previous attendees and sponsors. Leveraging the brand of the overall event, in lieu of a specific iteration. If you don’t actually HAVE testimonials, don’t despair. Write a couple and send them off to attendees you know, asking if they would be willing to associate their name with your nicely crafted sentence.
- Feature any draw you have. This can include location, featured speaker or entertainment, educational content, networking, awards and, certainly, peer pressure.
- Use urgency messages. These can include “registration is closing,” “spots are limited” or “last year was a sellout.”
Would you like fries with that creative?
The most effective marketing isn’t always the most traditional; the non-traditional can be more effective and faster. What it does require is more than one individual’s involvement. The fastest marketing leverages the power of numbers. Here are some of the fastest marketing deliverables available today:
- Mass emails. Keep them short, sweet and highly graphic. And don’t forget the “forward to a friend” button, along with “register here.”
- Personal-invite emails. These need to be scripted to a degree for consistency, and the source will vary, from executives, to sponsors, to speakers. Regardless, they build interest and awareness at an interpersonal level.
- Personal calls. There will never be a replacement for the personal touch — otherwise, why would we even have meetings? Many organizations involve their regional or district managers, sales team or account managers to call potential attendees. This works best if they have a sheet of FAQs and an event agenda/overview in front of them.
- Email signatures. If everyone behind the scenes, including sponsors and exhibitors, has a standard email signature that includes event dates, location and a reason to attend, along with an “ask me” tag, you can raise awareness quickly.
- Social media, perhaps. A lot of energy and effort goes into building messaging on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but if your social media participation is low, this is wasted energy. Typically, these channels work best for public sites and events, not corporate and association organizations.
Most participants need time to get an event on their calendar, but a last-minute push can work to your advantage if those you’re reaching out to aren’t already busy. Reaching them effectively can be done. But it’s a trade-off. Speedy pre-event marketing means losing content specifics or the time to do other tasks to get the word out.
In the final analysis, the best way to speed marketing along is to be prepared for the last-minute quality of communications and build fallback content and delivery channels into your plan. While your marketing may not be ideal in the purest sense, it will do what you need to have a successful event.
We want to know what you think. Please share your quick-marketing experiences and ideas in the comment section below.