It’s time to take your soon-to-be-successful association event from the realm of “well-planned on paper” to “anticipated in the minds of its future attendees.” Yep — it’s the marketing part! Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a step-by-step guide that will be ‘right’ for every association and every event. Instead, we’re going to go over the core concepts behind a successful event marketing campaign, with some hints on how to implement.
Core Concept I: Marketing in Full Duplex
Have you ever talked on an older cellphone where you couldn’t talk and listen at the same time? That’s called ‘simplex’ communication — only one signal can travel along the wire at a time, and in only one direction. Most traditional marketing is simplex: you send a message out, and you don’t really accept any messages in except perhaps RSVPs. Modern marketing, however, works both ways: social media allows potential guests to offer feedback from the very earliest stages of marketing. The more responsive you can be to this early feedback, the more likely you are to knock an even out of the park — as long as you keep in mind that often a vocal minority should be set aside in favor of the silent majority.
Core Concept II: Marketing on ALL the Channels
When you develop marketing materials for your event, you should at the minimum consider every channel at your disposal. For example:
- Pay-Per-Click Marketing
- Your Website
- Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest at the minimum!)
- Direct Mail
- Content Marketing (Blogs, Podcasts, any form of created content)
- Word of Mouth
- Get on the News/In the Paper
- Go to Today’s Association Events and Push Your Future Event
- Become an Expert and Speak at Seminars and Conferences
Naturally, there are dozens-to-hundreds of other similar options — but these should give you a good base to brainstorm from. Obviously, your budget probably isn’t going to cover all of these, so go for whatever will be the most cost-effective and work your way along the list until you run out of budget to keep marketing. Generally, that means starting online and going offline once you’ve maximized your Internet presence.
Core Concept III: Recruit Participants
There’s no need for 100% of your marketing to come from your handpicked team — not when you’ve already settled on keynote speakers, industry insiders, and several other prominent participants. Offer a small reward for your known-VIPs to drop a mention of your event to their crowd. They can cast a net far wider than your own, and the cost-effectiveness of these secondary marketing sources is generally through the roof — so use them!
All right! You’ve gotten your association event planned, set up, and marketed…all that’s left now is to execute. Good luck!