5 top tips for event marketing

Monday, 29 June 2015, by Ben O'Brien

Kenyon Fraser frequently works with clients on events; in the build up, during, and after.  Event marketing takes its own special form and the aims and challenges in events vary from one campaign to the next.  

Southport Flower Show, the UK’s largest independent flower show is always a great event to work on.  At the start of the year, conversions can be difficult to measure but the work is strategically valuable.  At Kenyons, it involves all areas of the office coming together to provide their skills.

1. Understand the buying cycle 

You’d often expect a direct correlation between marketing and sales activity but with events, this may not be the case: it may be necessary to build awareness before any conversions actually take place. This can be why an event requires people with plenty of experience in this particular area.  Each event has its own quirks and work may go on behind the scenes where people often forget that work needs to be done.  For instance, with gigs that sell out in hours, a lot of money is spent on promotion in the lead-up to the release of the tickets.  

2. Identify and understand the audience(s)

It is crucial to identify the audiences for the event and then work to understand them and how to communicate with them.  For example, when we look at Southport Flower Show, we find that there are people who have real passion for horticulture and go to the Show each year - they might look at their calendar in January and plan out their events for the year.  Then there may be those who are quite interested in flowers and the like, and plan a summer schedule - this might mean they take a look at their calendar in May and see which ones take their fancy and settle on going to half of them.  Finally there is the batch of people who decide to go on the spur of the moment or find it whilst looking for a day out.  

Knowing the different types of audiences you are talking to, means that you can start to understand when they buy and how they buy.  This gets you to the important decisions on how best to reach them.

3. Decide channels to reach them

To make these decisions, it’s good to ask the right questions.  To raise awareness, you may start a Facebook campaign but is this appropriate to your event? Perhaps it’s too broad a target audience and will end up costing you too much money.  Maybe you want to try talking to them directly through a mailing list.  Ultimately, the cost per acquisition and conversion rates have to be evaluated to find out which is most profitable.

During the run-up to the event, the traditional methods can prove valuable and so TV and radio campaigns may be employed.  Then there’s the importance of the digital work; paid search tactics and many other search engine marketing strategies need to be thought out and executed in a precise manner - reach is important but it’s the conversions that are most valuable.  

4. Prepare in the run-up to the event

“Fail to prepare; prepare to fail” may be an overused saying but here we thought we’d use it anyway because it is exactly the point we need to make, so why try and say it any other way…  The actual event can see your team being very busy on the ground and it’s easy to let marketing activity slip.  If it’s all planned out then it’s much more likely that your team will be able to carry on with their particular tasks and roles whilst your marketing campaign steams ahead.  

This stretches to ensuring the content on your website for the event is updated and relevant.  If more and more people are becoming interested in your event but then find themselves at an outdated site that fails to inform them of anything that interests them, then they will turn around and leave without the final crucial conversion taking place.  

5. Keep momentum rolling after the event

After the event, everyone gives each other a pat on the back.  And the work continues if the event is to be hailed a success and the momentum kept.  This is especially important if the event is to be repeated.  Analytics of performance across the marketing campaign and conversion trends are measured, with a view to learning as much as possible and improving upon it - for an even better campaign the next time round.  It is great if this can be done straight after the show, when all the lovely data is fresh in your mind and you can analyse it - remembering exactly what you are looking at.  

 

 

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