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Event Marketing: Your complete Guide for 2021

Event Marketing: Your complete Guide for 2021

Welcome to your guide to event marketing in 2021. We will share the best practices for promoting your event, get sponsorship registrations, how to align your tracking and how your marketing department can work together with the other departments.  

2020 had been a crazy ride so far for the world and the Event Industry has changed forever.

What is Event Marketing?

Have you ever been to a marketing event before? If yes, you already saw how things go and what’s the purpose. And if you have never attended any type of event, why do you think they’re organized in the first place?

The answer is Promotion.

There are numerous kinds of Events out there and the main purpose of each of them is to promote something.

What is event marketing?

Event marketing is the promotion of a product, brand, or service through virtual or in-person interactions.

There are various forms of event marketing and each depends on the specific goals of a company. The biggest shift this year is events going digital or virtual.  

Event marketing can be hosting an event to build relationships with prospects and customers of a certain niche. Also, it can be attending an event as an exhibitor to educate customers on your services. In addition, it can even include digital events such as webinars or live-streamed workshops.

Why should you not ignore event marketing?

According to various benchmarks, trend reports, and marketers we speak with, Event marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels out there for generating new business and growing your network.

Essentially, Event marketing is one of the most important pillars to reach your business goals. Some findings from the Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends Report are:

  • Between 2017 to 2018 the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17%.
  • The majority of company leaders are supportive of their company’s event strategies, but this support is contingent on the ability of event teams to prove ROI from events.
  • The most successful businesses are spending 1.7x the average marketing budget on live events.

Depending on the region or country those numbers can even be even higher.

As a UAE resident, I speak with a lot of businesses that get their sales exclusively from events. The impact of the current health crisis is huge for businesses that solely focus on events. And virtual conferences have not proven themselves yet for networking and sales.

Diversifying your channels is key for your long term goals and event marketing can still play an important role here.

We have given an introduction to the topic of event marketing. Below you will find a complete guide on how to promote your event in the best possible way.

You will find tips and tricks that are useful no matter what kind of event you are promoting. And we will share the strategies that we are using on a daily basis for the various events we help.

What types of events are there

Having a clear understanding of what kind of events there are and why they are there is key to being successful with your event strategy. So depending on your business goals, one is more important than the other. It's up to you to decide.  

1. Virtual Events

Because of what is happening in the world right now this is the one that I wanted to point out for you first. Virtual events always had a role in B2B marketing.

Webinars, virtual masterminds and panel discussions are used a lot in B2B marketing. However this year all major events are shifting towards virtual.

Suddenly no live events were allowed anymore and we have seen many different events in many different shapes.

Events are still figuring out new business models. Paid tickets or free tickets? Sponsorships or not? Things are not clear yet and it will take a while before we find new winning business models that are accepted by the industry.

I think that we all agree that virtual events for the content part are great. You can watch whenever you want, you can pause it and you can even watch the same content multiple times.

This is all great but the majority of the people invest in event marketing for the networking aspect. New apps like Brella or Hopin are bringing new technology that shows more relevance to the networking part. However, we just aren’t there yet.

The networking in real life is hard to copy and when we talk with attendees that is also the number one complaint they have about the current options. It's just not the same and we are not used to it yet.

2. Conferences

Conferences are large scale events and usually cover content, workshops and display booths. They are popular for businesses as it's great for networking and connecting with people.

Many conferences also allow businesses to speak about a certain topic or their company. Which is a great way to showcase your product or service!

Conferences can be for B2B or B2C and when done correctly is usually a good mix of learning , deal-making & entertainment.

3. Trade Shows

Expos and trade shows aim to showcase new products and services from various brands. For example, you have the MWC in Barcelona where various brands within the technology space showcase their gadgets.

Every topic has a specific area in the tradeshow and it's all about networking and sales conversations.

4. Seminars

Seminars can be described as gatherings that have the purpose of discussing a certain topic. These events are usually more interactive and engage participants in debates.

Compared to other types of Events, seminars have a smaller number of attendees. The reason behind this is that their purpose is to educate the audience which is usually filled with specialists, experts and highly interested people in a certain field.

Seminars usually last one day.

5. Ceremonies and Galas

This type of event is one special way of presenting your product and service. They help you increase brand recognition and grow your resources.

In general, awards ceremonies are commonly produced by media companies, publishers, associations and nonprofits.

Three reasons why they happen are:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Expand thought leadership & authority
  • Gain additional donations or revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships

6. Job Fairs and Recruiting Events

Recruiting events are organized by companies whose purpose is to gain more qualified applicants and also increase positive employer branding.

They can be held on a College Campus or at your company head office.

Recruiting events can attract those interested in your company all in one place. In other words, you will have more chances to attract talents that might want to work with you. Also, they help you receive a positive brand recognition by sharing directly your values and what you stand for.

Job and Recruiting Events

7. Thought Leadership and Networking Events

These events are organized to present brand authority and expertise in front of others. They also create opportunities for influencers of the same field to get to know each other and have a chance to share their ideas.

Thought Leadership events are a great way to build your brand and make a positive appearance in the middle of the crowd you really want to impress.

An example of this event type is Rethink Leadership for Senior Pastors. In this event, you will have the chance to attend with those charged with leading a faith community. There they’ll find people with leadership experience, and strategies that can help them be more successful in their roles.

Event about Rethink Leadership for Senior Pastors

8. Product Launches

Product Launch events are essential for the existence of a business and especially for startups. These events are created to achieve the specific purpose of building awareness and publicity for a particular product/brand.

Success of these events is highly dependent on the product but they are meant to generate an immediate buzz over it.

The size of it depends. Companies like Apple or Amazon have the resources to organize events that will generate the world’s attention while startups have more limited resources and have to try and do the best using them.

Apple Product Launch Event

7. VIP events

VIP events are typically a special tier of ticket pricing that guarantees attendees a personalized experience and may be invite-only. That VIP experience can be an upgrade to an existing event or an exclusive event just for VIPs.

These events can offer you the chance to stay relevant in front of these important people that will help you with your business and sales.

Don’t think of VIPs as only the people who are highly important in music or politics. Think of them as people who have huge influence in your industry and you want to stay in touch with them.

For example, Coloreel, a Swedish technology innovation company within the textile industry has organized a VIP event to gather the people who are the leaders of this field.

Coloreel VIP Event for Technology Leaders

Choosing the Event Venue

For live events, this is one of the most important decisions to be made when planning and organizing an event. Venue will mostly depend on the type of Event we discussed but there are other factors we must consider before deciding the place our event will take place.

Location

Before choosing where to host your Event you need to consider attendees and how easy it is for them to access. If you want to host a local event, you need to make sure they can come with any type of transportation from any given area you're interested in.

Conditions

Does the place offer the things you would like to have in your Event. When checking this step, you need to consider parking, capacity and additional services offered. Is there enough parking nearby or inside, does it have the capacity to take care of your event and does it fulfill your requirements for amenities (food, staff, etc.)?

Ambiance

One thing is for sure. You will want the hall to resemble the atmosphere that will be present during Event. Now depending on the type, you will want to choose the venue. Ceremonies will require different types of place compared to seminars for instance.

Acoustics

Have you ever attended an event at a venue that was so loud, it was hard to hear others, causing you to strain your hearing and lose your voice, all in one night? That’s caused by poor acoustics. Acoustics is just a fancy word for how sound travels through the venue. A low ceiling will make the venue seem cozy, but it will make it louder if it’s packed. Alternatively, a large warehouse-style venue will result in echoes, or what architects refer to as “reverberation”.

Event Marketing Strategy

Like with any other business project, Event Marketing requires a well-detailed plan to go by.

Following this step-by-step strategy, you'll make the most out of your event.

Before you start doing anything, you need to...

Know your event's potential attendees

This decision will impact everything that has to do with your event. Who are the people you want to attract? What are their needs? What are their desired outputs of the project?

In short, who's your buyer persona?

If you've decided to hold a Seminar, then you will be more specific about who your audience will be (as we discussed about seminars above). On the other hand if you want to hold an industry Conference, you will have to be prepared for a far broader audience.

See? Knowing your audience before anything, helps. You know what else must be identifiers?

Your Event Goals

After you decide your preferred audience, then you'll have to set the objectives you want to achieve by working with them. You SMART goals will give a frame to your Event planning and you'll work according to them.

For example, a smart goal would be to grow your email list by 200 new prospects. Or to have 300 new participants from your industry.

Don't limit yourself to one goal though. There are a lot of positives you can benefit from by holding an event. To help you with your goals the next step you should consider is to...

Determine your Event's Value Proposition

Let’s be honest. There are more events than ever before. That means there is also more noise than ever before, Therefore, you need to stand out if you want someone to come and join you.

What does that look like?

Well it can be in the form of unique content, leading speakers, your attendees who might be influencers of your industry, or connecting investors. It can be anything as long as it is SPECIAL.

This special factor can help you design your campaigns around it, make it your slogan or use it in your messaging while contacting your prospects. Let's suppose you have worked all of that out and are ready to use it on your marketing campaigns to promote the event.

Now you have to decide...

Event Marketing Channels

There are many ways to promote your event. However, I'm sure you'll automatically figure the channels out by following the previous step.

Some of my personal favorite channels are:

  • website (your homepage and/or a dedicated event site)
  • email
  • social media
  • direct mail
  • chatbots
  • paid advertising

Action Plan

An action plan is a document that lists in detail the steps which must be taken in order to achieve your event's goals.

The purpose of an action plan is to clarify what resources are required to reach the goal, formulate a timeline for when specific tasks need to be completed and determine what resources are required.

Here you decide the budget allotted to each step.

Measuring event marketing success

Before looking at the metrics and tools needed to measure success, you must have a clear vision on the outcome you want to achieve from your events.

Well we already discussed goals and this is closely related to that step. If you were clear and specific there, this part will come fairly easily.

Metrics to track

Some of the most important metrics to measure your event success might be:

  • total registrations
  • tickets sold (of course, excluding comped, staff, and speaker tickets)
  • total ticket revenue
  • number of sponsors
  • total sponsor revenue
  • brand awareness
  • lead generation
  • community engagement

If you want to go in more detail about metrics-goal alignment and tools to use for more effective measurement , then visit this post by Marketo.

Promote Your Event

You are absolutely sure your Event is worth it and it’s now time to show this to your stakeholders. That's where the promotion strategies come in and with digital marketing channels, the opportunities have never been bigger.

However, the effectiveness of your promotion efforts will depend on how well you'll integrate every channel at your disposal and fit it into your overall promotion strategy. This is exactly what we'll discuss.

Put your Event on Google's first page

Many people search for Events on Google and a huge proportion of them look no further to decide. How great would it be if you had a top place there and get attendees for free without spending on promotion strategies.

Yes, SEO is one of the best techniques you can use to get the registrations you want relatively cheap. Let's assume you already have a website. It’s now time to create content around the topics your desired event audience is looking while researching keywords.

Prove how great your Event is

If you already organized events in the past, get back to your archive and post the pictures throughout all your channels. Also, another way is to get in touch with past attendees and ask them to share on their profiles the fact that they will be attending.

People love to see something to believe it and that's exactly what you should do with his strategy.

Especially if it is User Generated Content (AKA content created by your customers)

Use special Event Offers

This is still one of the most effective methods for attracting attendees. It's the psychological side of it that makes people fear they're losing the bargain you're offering.

As for Events, they're several ways you can go with special offers:

Early bird tickets - This rewards people who act fast to make a registration, by making a special discount or some other benefit otherwise not available to people who register later.

Group offers - This is the special offer that is made for a group of friends or colleagues that have decided to attend your event. (Companies generally like to send multiple sales team members and group offers allow that at the fraction of the cost)

Tickets Bundles - If you’re serving food, drinks, or selling some sort of merchandise at your event - think about bundling these with a ticket purchase. “Buy a ticket and get your first drink at the bar for free” is an appealing value proposition.

VIP Tickets - Tickets that are more expensive but offer special privileges such as a better place to sit or anything that comes to your mind.

Use Social Media Marketing for your Event

Social media is huge. I don’t think there is any doubt in your mind about that.

What should be discussed is how you can use these channels to bring the most out of them for your event marketing campaign. Here are some tips when and how to use each channel depending on your audience and promotion plan.

Facebook - This will probably be your main channel. Facebook is in particular good for posting updates about your events, sharing links that direct to websites or posting offers in more detail. So no matter what you should always use Facebook for you Event. After all, they’ve got 1/3 of the world’s population on there.

Also, Facebook Events are definitely a feature of this channel that you should utilize.

Twitter - Great for quick and real time updates during Events. Also a good social network to use hashtags to your benefit.

LinkedIn - Great for B2B companies and those who want to go super specific about their offers. You can find the best ways to use LinkedIn to promote your Event.

Instagram and Pinterest - Great for posting pictures of events and have the best memories shared with your audience. Also Instagram is a great social network for hashtags.

If you have a dilemma where to concentrate your powers, do research and see where your audience spends the most of their time and then decide.

Also, these networks feature advertising as a special tool. Since it offers a great chance to target specific audiences and use strategically, social media advertising should not be ignored.

We have a process to run Event Ads with Facebook.

Use Email Marketing and Lead Generation

The conversion potential of Email Marketing is undeniable. According to some sources Email Marketing is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter advertising. But used strategically with Lead Generation campaigns it will bring you awesome results. Emails for nurturing leads generate an 8% CTR compared to general emails, which generate just a 3% CTR according to Hubspot.

Lead generation describes the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline.

The buying process has changed, and marketers need to find new ways to reach buyers and get heard, even through all the noise. Instead of finding customers with mass advertising and email blasts, marketers must now focus on being found and learn to build continuous relationships with buyers.

3 Steps to get Event Partnerships

Event partnerships are considered by many as a highly effective way to host your

Event. As they offer better opportunities for financing and promotion.

We offer here 3 steps to get your partners for the next Event:

  1. Identify your Event Partner

This is the most important step. And it's fairly easy. The key to finding a great partner is to look if your interests and audiences are aligned. Do they target the same people as you? Do they want to impress the same audience?

If the answer to both of these questions is YES then go and target this potential partner and move to the second step which is…

  1. Pitching to your Event Partner

I know. I know asking someone for anything will always seem somehow difficult. But take it like this: You are not asking anyone for any favor. It should also be in their interest to cooperate with you. So go by this logic.

The first thing you need to do in this process is send them an email explaining in detail what you are planning to do with this event.

Second, you need to schedule a phone call and pitch them directly through the phone. Why do you think they will make a good partner?

Third, be sure to give event details such as name, date, people attending so that you make it feel real, and

Finally, show what's in it for them. Why should they cooperate in the first place. As in any offer, there should be some irresistible reasons to sell it.

  1. Sign a contract

Now, let's say the person agreed to join you. You need to make sure they stay up until the end to avoid any trouble in the process. That's why you'll need a contract signing. This is absolutely easy to make and there are a lot of templates that will make it easier for you to design one.

Here are some of them from JotForm

Event Marketing Tools

As we already experienced it, events need a lot of work. You have to schedule, execute, manage, plan, register, promote, etc. You can of course do this with some simple worksheets but the work needed will limit your time to think about strategy.

That's where technology comes in to make things a whole lot easier for you. Here are the tools you can use to be more effective with you event marketing:

What is event marketing for our Orion?

There are many marketing agencies in the world. However, there are very few marketing agencies that have such a strong focus on events.

Most events are great at content creation, social posting, PR and production. But they have trouble leveraging paid advertising platforms to scale their operations.

Paid Digital Media that increases event attendance

We are digital media buyers that focus on generating data. After we find right audiences and engage them, we use inbound marketing funnels to turn this data into event attendance.

Do you need more registrations, more exhibitors or more engaged fans for your next event? Schedule a call.

What kind of events do we help?

  • Virtual Events
  • Live Events
  • Webinars
  • Conferences
  • Trade Shows
  • Workshops
  • Digital Summits
  • Digital Courses
  • Food Festivals
  • Music Festivals

Introducing the team

We are the add-on to your current marketing efforts and not a replacement for your current team. Moreover, we created separate teams that can help with various bottlenecks every event has to deal with.

We are happy to help.

Meet the team here.

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Manno Notermans

Manno is a wanderer of the world looking to make an impact and change the world for the better. He has over 10 years of experience working in various marketing positions. Manno’s main focus the past few years has been accelerating the growth of businesses, increasing revenue, and profit with out-of-box creative ideas and implementations.