Long ago, there was probably an event planner for the Roman Colosseum.
It was his job to get people to attend the chariot races, and he spent tons of time creating posters, telling his friends and spreading the word.
It’s funny to think, but your job as an event planner today really isn’t all that different from that guy in ancient Rome. You’re both looking to get a sell-out crowd, throw a great event and put smiles on the faces of everyone who walks through the door.
Gratefully, the way we communicate our events (and the types of events we throw) has advanced immeasurably since then. Broadcasting your message to everyone in the world can be done with the click of a mouse.
But since communications has gotten easier, there’s a lot more noise out there. Getting attendees through the doors of your event—whether it’s a conference, trade show or chariot race—takes precise tactics.
Here are the communications tactics you need to employ to boost event registration before, during and after your event.
Create a Seamless Look and Feel
Building a look and feel of your event is important. It’s the expectations, memories and stories, as Seth Godin defines, that make your people choose you over some other event.
But that event branding doesn’t work quite as well if it’s not carried over to every other communication element that you use. Create a seamless look and feel for your event and all marketing and communications elements you create for it. In turn, your audience will recognize you throughout every communication element they are exposed to.
Improve Your Event Registration Website
There are an incredible number of events out there, all vying for attention. Chances are, there’s an event out there that’s laser-focused on the same people you’re hoping to attract.
Your event registration website is often the first impression people have of your event. Make sure you’ve optimized your event website so it is easy to find and designed for a great user experience.
Invest in Advertising
Event advertising plays a huge role in boosting event registration. There are countless paid advertising tactics to try, some more common than others. Try a mix and see what resonates with your people:
- Place an ad or sponsored content piece in an industry magazine or website
- Use Google AdWords for targeted PPC (pay-per-click) advertising
- Hire social media influencers to promote your event
- Co-promote the event with key speakers, vendors and sponsors
- Try utilizing retargeting to lead visitors of your website or your partners’ websites to convert as registrants on your event website
Get Social (Media)
And a main way of getting potential attendees interested in your event—especially millennials and Generation Z—is constant, engaging social media updates. On top of the “traditional” platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, try out Snapchat, Periscope and other video-heavy social media apps. After all, video is being used increasingly more to research events.
Build even greater social media momentum by having key event speakers participate in question-and-answer sessions, share advance insights from their speeches and more. More than that, establish a unique hashtag for your event to centralize the conversation across mediums. After all, according to Linchpin, tweets with hashtags get double the engagement of tweets without.
Create a Blog
What’s a great way to address your audience’s concerns, build traffic to your website and boost registration? Start a blog.
Turn your audience’s concerns into great content that piques interest and convinces people that your event is a can’t-miss. More than that, it’s a great way of showing you’re a thought leader in your industry and letting your audience peek behind the curtains at what makes your event tick.
“By giving people a window into its workings, a company can show it has a sound process that it’s adhering to,” writes Julia Kirby in the Harvard Business Review. “The greater the transparency, in other words, the greater the trust.”
Help Them Connect
A recent survey found that networking and making industry connections is a key reason people attend events. Why not facilitate that process for them?
Develop an online community of users that allow groups of attendees to connect before your event. With this community, it’s easy for like-minded individuals to find each other and organize face-to-face meeting when they’re at your event. This can be accomplished via social media with a LinkedIn group, for example, or even a designated event app.
During the Event
Once your doors are open, your focus shifts from getting attendees this year to getting attendees next year. What’s the best way to do that? Make the people who didn’t attend feel like they’re missing out on something big.
Social media plays a key role in this. Plaster photos and videos of the great time your people are having at your event and you’ll build participant interest for next year and consider livestreaming components of your event to maximize interest.
Pick a Great Giveaway
Especially if your event has a trade show or expo component, your people will walk out with a bunch of swag: keychains, pens and those squishy stress balls. And all of those things hit the trash or Goodwill pretty quickly.
Offer your people giveaways that they’ll actually use and keep. Not only does it paint your company in a more positive light (“Wow, what a cool gift!”), it’s a constant reminder of your event at their desk or in their home.
Make the Event Experience Great
“No piece of marketing, however sleek its design, how pleasant its smiling faces, how compelling its content, can counteract a bad experience,” writes Jason Wesbecher in Entrepreneur. And that’s the truth.
The best way to bring people to your event next year is to ensure a smooth event this time around. An event that people love builds word-of-mouth appeal that you can’t do without and follows through on the promise your brand established.
Encourage Registration For Next Year's Event
At the closing party for your event, when people are talking about their early flights back home, don’t just show them the door. Right after your event is the perfect time to get people interested in next year’s.
Make sure you’re selling tickets for next year—or, at the very least, taking interested parties’ email addresses. Give them a special discount for their early-bird interest and you’ll see growth right out of the gates.
Surveys are a crucial tool to help boost event registration, but not necessarily in the immediate sense. By surveying, you’re ensuring the long-term health and productivity of your event and gathering important data to measure event success and make improvements for next year.
Who should you survey?
- Survey all future attendees about the content they’d like to see at your event—what speakers or topics would they like?
- Survey return attendees to learn their opinion on the content from last year’s event—what worked and what didn’t?
- Survey former attendees to find out why they decided not to make the trip—what could make them come back?
Put Your Content to Work
You and your team took tons of great photos and videos of your event. You have slide decks, quotes from speakers and so much more.
Extend the lifecycle of your event and build interest in your next event by putting all that great content to use. Keep the excitement and enthusiasm from your event top-of-mind—the incredible feeling they experienced—the whole year through social media, blogging and more.
Looking for other ways to make your event more strategic and successful from start to finish? Download our ebook, “7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.”