Event Marketing 101
Participating in events is a shrewd way to promote your business. Here’s how to fully leverage your presence.
Despite the importance of digital marketing in today’s economy, sometimes the old ways are still best. Person-to-person marketing is often the most impactful method for spreading the word about your business. Participating in events or tradeshows is a great way to deploy this type of outreach. Here are a few tips for making the most out of these opportunities – before, during and after the event!
Before the Event
While participating in events is about person-to-person marketing, digital marketing still has an important role to play. Let’s be honest, if you don’t let people know your business will be at an event, people won’t seek you out and you won’t get a chance to have the type of conversations that can drive eventual business gains.
Start promoting your attendance at an event well in advance. First, determine your goals, audience, messages, channels and budget. Then, structure these items around a realistic timeline. Next, establish some effective strategies and tactics to get your message out, such as:
- Creating a social media campaign communicating where you’ll be located at the event site and a value proposition for why attendees should visit your booth.
- Putting notices about the event in your newsletter.
- Establishing an email marketing campaign.
- Connecting with the hosting organization behind the event to inquire about joint-promotional efforts or opportunities.
- Writing related content like a blog entry.
As with any other marketing plan, you’ll want to ensure that you also attach evaluation metrics to the campaign to gauge your efforts. It’s difficult to over-emphasize how important this step is. Without metrics, you will be unable to make real-time adjustments to your marketing efforts or fully assess your ROI.
During the Event
One of the most important things to remember is that your marketing efforts don’t end once the event begins. When you’re on-site, you will have three new marketing priorities:
- Continue to attract people to your booth
- Leverage news from the event
- Build prospects
Just because the event has started doesn’t mean you should stop building out and disseminating event-related content. Continue to use social media, blogs or emails to promote your participation in the event and to discuss its highlights to position yourself as a thought leader. Doing this will serve two purposes. In the short term, it will remind people to visit your booth while the event is going on. In the long term, it will enhance your firm’s standing for those who couldn’t attend but may be following via digital channels.
Once you have people paying attention to your presence at an event, however, there are other steps to take. Ensure your business is represented in a way that is professional and unified by creating a fully branded booth with consistent colors, logos and lettering. Including an interactive element is a great way to deepen the impact of your booth and your overall presence at the event. A photo backdrop is just one example of something you could do. Event attendees will be naturally drawn to your booth to commemorate their experience and may even share their photos on social – further extending your reach.
If you pull all of this off, you can effectively grow your business’s brand awareness. Best of all, if people have a positive experience visiting your booth, they will be more inclined to engage with you and share their contact details.
After the Event
Once an event has come and gone, it can be tempting to rest on your laurels; but you can’t stop just yet. After you’ve put away your booth and left the venue, you still need to do something with the contact information you’ve gained. All the business cards you’ve collected or email addresses you’ve compiled need to be sorted and organized.
The next step is to follow up with your new prospects. But before you start emailing contacts or calling them over the phone, just think for a moment. Is that the right approach? Where do people actually spend most of their time these days? Where do they feel the most comfortable interacting with acquaintances? Social media, that’s where! Seek them out on LinkedIn first and build authentic connections before you start marketing to them more directly. People are much more inclined to buy from you if they have a strong sense of who you are and what you can do for them.
Events require a lot of work, even if you are merely a participant and especially if you look at them as a golden opportunity to promote your business. But by adhering to best practices and solid marketing principles, you can fully leverage the unique platform offered by the event environment.