If you work in events, planning, organising and logistics are usually insane. Anyone that has ever been involved with events will know and feel your pain. But the pay-off can be enormous: you can grow your network, stand out as an industry leader, make new partnerships, grow the buzz around your products and services, and much more. And event planning is important for businesses simply attending or exhibiting at events, too. Your event marketing plan will help you get the most out of your investment.

After working on event planning, logistics, and digital promotion we’re sharing hard-earned tips on how you can prepare for your event, whether you’re hosting, exhibiting, or attending.

There’s no denying the huge possibilities that social media and digital marketing offer today for pretty much every industry, and events are no different. Having a good strategy and a plan ready to implement for your event could improve everything: ticket sales; engagement before, during and after attendance; more kudos for future events and most importantly, engaged followers and an audience to market to in the future.

So What Are The Fundamentals For An Event Marketing Plan?

Use Your Website

First and foremost, decide on your key channel or channels for your marketing. Your website should be ground zero. This is where your attendees can register or buy tickets, and where exhibitors or sponsors can find information about getting involved and most importantly can contact you. I say this is ground zero as this is will be the focal point that everything else you do will revolve around.

If you’re attending or exhibiting, make this clear on your website, too. Don’t have a website? Compared to the cost of exhibiting at an industry-leading event, a website is a much smaller cost that’ll keep paying off. (I’ve previously answered the question, how much does a website cost?)

Build Your Email List

Next on your list should be an email newsletter list. We would recommend MailChimp, which is what we use ourselves and for all of our clients. With the right integrations on your website, you should be able to allow people to sign up. When they register or buy, ask for their permission to email them regarding the event and future events. This is going to come in really useful for your future events, and means that you can build up more excitement and hype BEFORE event day, too!

Got a limited number of tickets left? Tell the people who already bought them, to remind them to talk to their friends about it. Want to build up hype? Slowly trickle out announcements about the speakers and schedule. But send it to your ticket holders first, who should get to know before anyone else!

Leverage Social Media

Next up is going to be social media. Remember, you should be using social media long before the event. Before you’ve even started marketing your event itself! You can start your channels to build interest months in advance before you even have a date or venue. Decide what channels are going to be your focal channels. This could only be one channel or it could be multiple. But remember, if you’re a small team, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to have one or two channels where people are engaged and you’re involved, rather than lots of channels where people’s messages or comments go unanswered.

Now that you know what’s going on where, I recommend coming up with a hashtag for the event. Try to keep it to the event name rather than the year or version. This way, it builds up over time and will continue to grow with each iteration of the event itself. For example, Brighton SEO could use #BrightonSEO or #BrightonSEO2019. One is specific to this year, the other can continue to develop and grow for years to come.

Now that you’ve sorted the basics, let’s move on to the next step.

Your ‘Pre’ Event Marketing Plan

Once you know when and where your event is going to be, it’s time to start working on a plan to market it. You want to give yourself as much time as possible. At the very least, I recommend 12 weeks. This should give you time to secure sponsors, and build a list of registered attendees.

So what does your pre-event marketing plan consist of? Well, content. It’s time to get creative. Build up a small portfolio of content that’s ready to go. Use this content to explain the event, tell people about the sponsors, talk about attendance levels, the venue, and what’s planned at the event. All of this information can form part of your marketing as you build up.

Some ideas for your pre-event marketing plan content:

  • A quick intro from sponsors or speakers.
  • Message from the organisers.
  • Countdowns – how long to go until the event.
  • New sponsors or speakers added to the event.
  • Special offers from sponsors for attendees only.
  • Any special attractions for the event or the location it’s being held at, for example, a “Calm” sponsored chill out area (saw this at the LAUNCH event in San Francisco a couple of years ago).

In the fundamentals, remember, you’ve already chosen your platforms and your hashtag, make sure everything you are doing from here on in is on those channels and contains your hashtag.

Don’t forget to give yourself a marketing budget for your event. No event marketing plan is complete without some sort of a budget to help build interest, drive traffic to your website and ultimately convert into registrations/ticket sales.

During the Event

The event is finally here. You’re excited to get started! But before you dig in, make sure that you have someone ready to cover the entire event for your chosen hashtag. And make sure you cover everything. From people arriving and registration, some networking during the coffee breaks, to all the speakers/sponsors you may have on the day.

If you can, get a videographer in to make a film about the event. Your action shots are fun to show off later, but they’ll be vital for marketing the next event! Film the sponsors and exhibitors, the talks and speakers, and maybe even go live for part of the keynote. You want to get action shots of everyone at the event during breaks and lunch.

This is going to be a full-time job on the day of your event, as whoever is in charge of social media will need to be constantly on the lookout. People are going to tag you, link to you, use your hashtag and be posting all day. You want to engage with all of them, as soon as possible. You may also find valuable feedback to address any problems as quickly as possible, too. Make sure you’re featuring across the board on that day.

Everything you do to make the most of this event, should help you market future events and for everything else you decide to do down the line. This is all about that relationship building with your sponsors, speakers, exhibitors, and attendees.

Your Post-Event Marketing Plan

So the event is over. It’s time to take it easy. Well, not too easy. You’ll want to make sure all attendees are kept in touch with, and that your video coverage is now online and shared across your channels.

If your video coverage is high enough quality, you could even ‘upsell’ digital access to previous attendees or those who didn’t make it to the event. That’s one way to get the deposits for your next event paid for. (You could even consider offering digital access as a ticket before the event, too. Just make sure you CAN deliver on it.)

Send an email to all attendees to thank them for coming. Share some information from the event, such as statistics, testimonials, a word from the sponsors, or other tidbits to help sign off the occasion. It might be worth sending a personal email to thank all your sponsors, for helping you make this happen. And don’t forget to boast about your speakers and thank them, too.

Post-event, your social media marketing continues. You’ll need to monitor and watch for anyone who might be talking about you or the event you organised. So make sure you’re listening properly. (This list of 5 monitoring tools for business might be useful.)

That’s our quick guide to an event marketing plan. There are a lot of moving parts. If you feel like your events are getting too big and that you need help with the marketing side of things, we can help. Get in touch with the team today on [email protected] and we’ll be here to help support you.

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Chris Bruno
Chris Bruno

Chris, founder and CEO of Social INK, has devised and consulted on more digital marketing and social media marketing campaigns than you can shake a stick at. He’s also got a bit of a thing for online advertising and social media advertising.