The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Event Marketers

Monica Fasse
Monica Fasse

People attending an event outside by a pool

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 48% of event attendees say face-to-face interactions are more valuable today than two years ago.

Plus, 85% of executives say the number of exhibitions will hold to current levels or increase in the next several years.

In other words, event marketing is becoming a more common tactic, and companies are spending more on events.

But when you’re making that kind of investment, it’s critical to get it right.

The following are the 10 habits successful event marketers consistently leverage, according to Event Marketer, complete with our take on them.

1. They focus on long-term engagement.

Every so often, you attend an event you just can’t stop thinking about. The things you learn stick in your head. You carry around swag from the event—notebooks, pens and the like—everywhere you go. You’ve set a calendar reminder months into the future to remind you to buy tickets for next year’s event.

That’s the end goal for every event marketer—not just engagement, but long-term engagement that sticks with you.

Successful event marketers don’t focus on the engagement at the event. They think about months ahead of time and months after, too, to get the most out of every event. One key way companies are thinking long-term engagement? Using conference apps.

2. They create unforgettable experiences.

The days of the hour-long keynote and hotel ballroom cocktail hour are gone. Today, the line between education, entertainment, and networking have grown increasingly blurry, and sessions are pulling out all the stops to make their message resonate.

Not only does the experience your people have ensure they have a good time—it also ensures they remember what you have to say.

A major way of creating a surefire unforgettable event experience is putting data to use. When you can quantify a decision, the success of your event is sure to follow.


Related: Check out these 7 noteworthy lessons we learned from the 2017 Experiential Marketing Summit.

3. When something works, they don’t do it again.

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s a fact: if you execute a successful event, don’t use the same formula again. Take those notes, crumple them up and chuck them in the recycle bin.

Why? Wouldn’t reusing an awesome event again emulate the same success the first one had? Not always.

By putting the same event into play again, you’re doing yourself and attendees a disservice:

  • Returning attendees will be disappointed with a similar experience to the one they’ve already had
  • New attendees will catch wind from returning attendees
  • Your team will be trying to play with last year’s playbook—not trying something new and bold

4. They design for the second screen.

The second screen—the one on your night stand, on your desk and maybe in your hand right now—is the future of events. After all, according to Nielsen's "The U.S. Digital Consumer Report," Americans now own an average of four digital devices and spend an average of 60 hours a week consuming content on their devices.

Your event needs to reflect this shift.

Instead of focusing on the presenters and screens on stage, like it’s always been done, provide supplementary information on attendees’ mobile devices so they can learn at their own speed.

Understanding your second-screen audience and its environment will help you make smarter design decisions and get a greater ROI.

5. They bring the product to life.

Man experiencing a virtual reality skiing game at an event

The tradeshow of the past worked like this: people filed into the room, someone spoke and built up the product, the product was unveiled and everyone went home. Today, that won’t work. No matter the kind of event or circumstance, we need that hands-on dynamic.

A study by University of Iowa researchers found that people don't remember what they hear as well as the things they see and touch. You can talk about your product or service all you like, but people won’t remember it nearly as well as a hands-on experience.

Bring your product to life for your people by providing a hands-on experience.

6. They incorporate user-triggered experiences.

User-triggered experiences give attendees the opportunity to impact the outcome of their experience, making them more inclined to engage on site.

For example, giving people the chance to cast their vote for which subject is going to be covered in the next breakout via the event app is a tactic that resonates immediately with anyone (i.e., practically any attendee who willingly opted to spend their time and money to attend) who has a topic they want addressed.

And because people are motivated differently, not knowing the outcome may draw in an ultra-specific set of attendees. 

Live-tweeting a seminar in exchange for a surpise brand experience (instantly setting off a branded fireworks display, or triggering the release of a fleet of branded sky lanterns) may have the up-for-anything demographic of the audience thinking, “I’m in!”

7. They think personalization.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking attendee communication, breakout session content or event swag. [No one wants to be caught sharing the same thing their friends and family are posting anymore], so it’s the personalized content that continues to win out.

B2C brands are taking the concept a step further, offering consumers the opportunity to instantly close on a transaction following a personalized product marketing demo, i.e. sidewalk facial recognition scanners that allow consumers to identify the perfect cosmetic product and shade, and then immediately turn around and purchase recommendations from a branded vending machine.

8. They pull heartstrings.

Three people in a bright pink human snow globe at an event

Emotion is essential to good event strategy.

Event planning is much more than a service or product. When we plan an event, we are planning a series of moments that guests will experience, and hopefully, remember for a long time to come. In other words, people don’t remember your event so much as how they felt while participating in it.

Take emotion into consideration at all stages of your event, from the communication strategy to the event brand.

9. They use experiences as content.

By design, the experience your people have at your event shouldn’t exist exclusively there.

While it’s clear that face-to-face events result in the largest impact for your people (and your bottom line), livestreaming your event can bring in a wider audience.

More than that, recorded video and images from your event can be used to draw in new attendees the next time around.

And, make your event social media-friendly by encouraging attendees to engage with the event and share photos and quotes from speakers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more.

10. They push the envelope.

While they come from all walks of life and bring countless perspectives to solving problems, the best event marketers have one thing in common: they aren’t afraid to take a risk.

Walking into an empty venue and having the vision to morph it into an experience that people love takes a lot of talent and a big leap of faith. With a bold, no-fear attitude leading the way for your strategic event, you’ll get the bottom-line results you’re looking for.

Event Strategy Is Where It's At

The strategy of your event will ultimately determine its effectiveness. Find out how you can drive results with solid event strategy in our ebook, “7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.”

7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic Ebook by ITA Group