By Adam Young
We live in a digital age, and as a result many of your marketing efforts are probably focused on using the latest and greatest ways to reach as many potential customers as possible. And why wouldn’t they be? Continuous advances in technology are making it possible for anyone with an idea and some determination to put themselves in the marketplace and really compete.
But even in this Golden Age of online connectivity, it’s still important to reach your audience in the physical world, and industry events and conferences represent one of the best ways to do that. Large organizations with full-fledged marketing departments still dedicate on average about one-fifth of their marketing budgets to events or “live” marketing. And for businesses of any size, events—from conferences and symposiums to concerts, sporting events and festivals—are still an important piece of the marketing puzzle.
There are even ways to leverage technology as part of your event-marketing plan to generate more bang for your buck. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you make your event outing a true springboard for your brand.
1. Choose Wisely
Once you start researching events and conferences, you’ll find that there’s something taking place almost all the time. It can be tempting to say yes to everything, but when your time and money are limited, you’ve got to be able to justify the cost of attending. Ask yourself these questions when you’re trying to determine the value of a particular event:
- Who am I hoping to connect with in order to build my brand?
- Are my potential customers and/or partners going to be at this event?
- What am I saying about my brand by attending this event? Is it a sector that’s relevant for my business?
- How would I define or measure a successful outing at this event?
If you answer these questions and find that there’s likely to be an audience that fits your needs, it’s time to dive in and make the most of it. Get your event plan together!
2. Leverage Social Media
Yes, we’re talking about real-world marketing here, but online channels—particularly social media—are going to play a key role in the success of your event-based marketing efforts. It’s actually a great complementary tool in this case: a low-cost way to start spreading the word about your attendance, generate interest among your existing audience, and hopefully reach a wider range of people through your association with the event.
Think about promoting a special offer or giveaway ahead of the event to draw people to your booth and increase your chances of engaging with your customers in person. And at the event, you can easily grow your social media network by offering a prize or special deal to anyone who uses his or her smartphone to follow you on the spot.
Focus on building excitement. Tell your audience what you’ll be doing ahead of time, and give them a reason to come see you. Think of it as your essential pre-event marketing.
3. Focus on Signage and Visual Presence
Events in general can be busy, crowded affairs. Everyone is fighting for attention from the same people, so you have to stand out. You’ve got to put some thought into the booth you’re creating and any additional signage you want to use, so that you not only catch the eyes of attendees but also accurately represent your brand and show what you’re bringing to the table.
Make sure people know what you’re offering, and why they should stop and talk to you. You can use your booth for messaging, but you have to be clear and concise. People are moving quickly—they need to be able to understand your value proposition in just a few seconds, so they can decide if they want to learn more.
When it comes to attracting attention on the floor, think of how you can best utilize the visual elements of your presence. If you’re offering graphic design services, for example, try to incorporate your artwork into your booth—use it to show exactly what you can do. Even if your offering is more technical, using artwork and color is a great way to draw eyes to your space.
Also think about what kind of additional marketing collateral you want to have on hand. If your booth does its job and draws people in, you might not have time to actually talk to everyone, so you’ll want other ways to put your message out. Think about one-page fliers that lay out your offering or signs that direct people to your online presence, and it never hurts to create new business cards—all areas where Fiverr.com can be an invaluable resource.
4. Consider a Sponsorship
If there’s an event that is especially important for your business and you absolutely need to stand out in a crowded field, becoming a sponsor of the event could be the right decision.
Yes, it’s an investment beyond the regular attendance fees, but a sponsorship can come with some valuable perks. It not only puts your name out there on a wide range of signs and marketing materials, but it often gives you access to better booth locations and sometimes the opportunity to participate in break-out sessions or panel discussions. You can position yourself as a leader in the sector.
This is an opportunity to truly differentiate yourself, and again this is where a sharp logo and crisp visual presence can help catch people’s attention on collateral that is produced for the event. Think about creating or updating your logo to make sure it’s effective in large, small and online formats, and take advantage of whatever avenues a sponsorship offers you to present your brand.
No event is quite the same, so this is going to be a learning experience as you make the commitment to marketing your company to a live audience. If you keep these guidelines in mind and go in with a focused plan of attack, you can generate the leads that will make it well worth your time.
Adam Young is the founder and CEO of Event Tickets Center. He has first-hand experience connecting with customers face-to-face at events—besides being valuable, it’s also pretty fun.