No matter how well you’ve planned and organized an event, it will be doomed as a failure if you can’t secure enough attendees to visit the event.
It’s very rare for an event, no matter how perfect it is, to just sell itself, which is why having a clear marketing and event promotion strategy is crucial to the success of your event.
In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about event marketing: the initial concept of event marketing, effective event marketing strategies and ideas you can use in 2023, and how to ensure you are reaching your target audience at the right time.
Without further ado, let us begin.
What Is Event Marketing?
In a nutshell, event marketing is about using different techniques across various marketing channels to promote your event to your target audience. It is about letting your target audience know that you are hosting an event and transforming this audience into your attendees.
Event marketing can be B2C or B2B in nature.
B2C, when you promote your event directly to a target audience with the hope of getting them to register as an attendee and/or buy a ticket, as well as inviting their friends and peers to also attend.
B2B event marketing happens when you are offering your event to other businesses, whether to attract their employees to attend the event, to get the business involved as an exhibitor, or even as a sponsor.
While you can use the same marketing techniques and channels for both, the tone of the messages and the value proposition you offer can, and often should be different.
In B2C event marketing where your aim is to attract attendees, you can use marketing techniques that are more gravitated towards communicating personal benefits and driving positive emotions.
In B2B event marketing (i.e. attracting sponsors), on the other hand, you may need to offer more tangible USP (Unique Selling Point) like how your event can help the business to sell more of their products.
Event Marketing Strategy: Who Is Your Target Audience?
The key to any effective marketing strategy is knowing and understanding your target audience.
In event marketing, this is a bit more specific, and to know your ideal audience, you need to first define the goal or objective of your event.
Unless your business is a fully-fledged event organizer, then the event’s objectives must align well with your organizational objectives. Here are some examples of common event objectives to consider:
- Sell more tickets to drive revenue
- Increase awareness of your brand/product/service
- Sell more products during the event
If, for example, your sole objective is to sell tickets, for instance, if your event is a music festival, then your primary target audience is the fanbase of the event’s headliner. On the other hand, if your objective is to sell products, then your event’s target audience should be the users of this product.
The better you understand your target audience’s needs, behaviors, and pain points, the more effective your event marketing strategies will be.
Timing Is Key: Event Marketing Timeline
Event marketing is time-sensitive: your marketing efforts and channels will change the closer it is to the event’s actual date.
With that being said, we can generally break down most event marketing strategies into four different phases:
- Pre-Event Registration
This phase happens before you open the registration/ticket sales for the event, and the main objective of this phase is to generate buzz.
- Event Launch and Registration
This phase should provide a major boost to brand awareness, where you’ll work with the press and influencers to introduce the event to our target attendees.
- Day-To-Day Marketing
This phase lasts from between the event launch until the registration has been closed. This is where your core marketing strategies will be executed.
- Registration Closing
A very important phase for any event marketing, where you’ll use various strategies to maximize ticket sales/registrations.
As we’ll discuss the different event marketing strategies and ideas below, consider these different phases and where a specific strategy will fit best.
Effective Event Marketing Strategies and Ideas To Try
Now that you’ve defined and researched your target audience, here we will discuss the effective event marketing ideas and strategies you can try for your next event.
- Share Press Release With The Media
Event marketing phase: primarily event launch phase, but also pre-registration and throughout the day-to-day phase
This one is fairly self-explanatory. By sharing your formal press release with the media, you can amplify your reach in getting the word out to your target attendees. Also, a formal press release will be important for securing your sponsors and might help in getting the attention of influencers, which may in turn help promote your event.
If your event’s primary goal is to build brand awareness and to build relationships with influential people and businesses, then this event marketing strategy is a must.
- Early Bird Registrations
Event marketing phase: event launch phase
Selling early bird tickets at a lower price is a very popular event marketing tactic, simply because it is still very effective in two major ways:
- You are building a sense of urgency: “get it now before it’s over”, which is very effective in attracting conversions. Sold early bird tickets can also help with your event’s cash flow
- People will talk about it, and so it’s very effective in generating buzz and amplifying your reach
The idea of early bird registration is fairly simple: you’ll increase your ticket price the closer to the event it gets, and you can create several stages or phases depending on your event timeline and purposes.
Another reason why early bird discounts are so popular is that you can easily tie it up to other event marketing strategies, for example by mentioning the run-up to the expiry of the early bird discount in your press release and email newsletter. Very versatile and cost-effective, a must!
- Effective Pre-Event Promotions
Event marketing phase: pre-event registration
Too often people focus on the actual event launch and ticket sales, but the pre-event registration phase is also very important.
You can create a pre-event page (i.e. on Facebook or on your own site), which can be effective to generate early interests. You can use the page to capture leads that you can contact again when the event is officially launched, and you can also run contests and giveaways to help build awareness of the event.
Also, a great pre-event page may also help with your event site’s SEO performance. So this should be a major consideration if you also plan to run a long-term website/blog.
- Social Media Marketing
Event marketing phase: all of them
Again, this one is fairly obvious: in this age of social media, it would only make sense to promote your event across social media platforms where your target audience is most prevalent.
Social media marketing is useful in all phases of event marketing: to generate buzz and momentum for your event launch, to engage your target audience, and ultimately to build a community.
An important approach in social media event marketing is to create an event hashtag. The hashtag should be unique enough so it won’t get lost amidst all the noise, but at the same time should be familiar enough so your target audience can easily find it.
- Content Marketing
Event marketing phase: all of them
Blogging on your own site, as well as guest posting on relevant blogs and sites in your niche can be a great way to establish your thought leadership, which in turn can help attract more people to register.
The important principle here is not solely using your content to promote your event, but aim to provide value to your target audience and establish your credibility. You should also boost your content with SEO strategies to attract more people to consume this content.
- Paid Channels
Event marketing phase: primarily day-to-day marketing
It’s no secret that we can’t always rely on free and organic marketing strategies if we really want to optimize our reach and conversion. You’ll likely need to invest some money on paid advertising options: social media ads, Google Ads, retargeting ads, sponsored posts, influencer marketing, and so on.
When investing in these paid channels, it’s crucial to understand their roles when compared to the organic options:
Organic channels are affordable, even free, but you’ll likely need to spend a significant amount of time before you can get the desired results. Paid channels, on the other hand, can guarantee short-term results as long as you have the money, but they can get really expensive if you are not careful.
It’s important to find the balance between the two in your overall event marketing strategy.
- Email Marketing
Event marketing phase: primarily day-to-day marketing but also all phases
Email is still a very effective marketing channel and is especially powerful in event marketing.
You can use an email blast to potential attendees that have registered their interests on the pre-event page, and you can also send periodic emails to promote early bird stages and also to generate more traffic to your content.
Obviously, the event marketing strategies and ideas we have shared above are not the only ones available, but they are among the most effective ones that you can use as foundations for your overall strategy.
By using an event marketing platform and implementing these strategies, you’ll have a much stronger position to generate buzz, attract more people, and ultimately, get more ticket sales and registrations from your target attendees.