“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.
Creating a professional online and offline event experience.
There are still people in business who believe that successful events are created simply by organising a venue, food, speakers and sponsors. Their invitation list is developed using the ratio that ‘the more we invite, the more chance we have of people attending’. The venue is provided ‘at the right price’ by a contact and the speaker is a friend or colleague. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps, but it’s not acceptable to attendees any more.
We all know that people are more conscious of their time nowadays, and accordingly there are high expectations that an attended event will be meaningful and useful to them. Therefore, if a business is trying to create a platform to meet customers and/or prospects, but it’s not relevant to them, they will more than likely, ignore the invite. Let’s say they do attend your seminar, sponsorship, business networking evening, or whatever, but don’t have a good experience, then I’m afraid they won’t return the following year or at any other event that you invite them to.
Such a scenario can be avoided by the event owner being more professional or by outsourcing the event management to somebody that has the experience. A lot of the time, the event owners believe that they can save money by not using external professionals. As a result, they spend their time on logistics and leave no time to concentrate on the attendees (their customers / prospects). What will also be neglected is a targeted marketing plan (online and offline), to drive awareness before, excitement during and contentment afterwards. What happens? The event fades into the sea of other business events occuring around the same time.
Basic event planning.
So, if there are any businesses reading this blog that want to plan and organise their own event, here are some pointers about creating successful events. You would be amazed how many people that have approached us, in relation to helping them with event planning, but have not considered these basic points:
- What the main objectives are.
- Who the primary target market is.
- Why would somebody want to attend the event?
- Is there sufficient lead in time.
- The resources required in terms of time and money.
- Professional assistance with some elements.
- The measurement of results.
When we are planning events we look for an eight week run-in to the event, at least. Ideally, an event should be planned as far ahead as possible. Not only is this important to allow time to put everything in place, but it also allows time to market the event by using a mix of offline and online elements.
Here’s a summary list of the most common items and activities we recommend:
Print items – (ads, posters, flyers) – professionally designed with a common theme so it can be used on-line also.
Website – if it is a very large event it may require its own online presence. If not, a landing page on an existing site can be created. At least, develop a banner or sidebar widget for an existing homepage.
Registration – do invitees require an entrance ticket, how do they register / pay? WordPress plugins are available. EventBrite is a popular planning tool and Facebook can also be used for events.
Invitees – you should know (or learn) who the influencers are in your industry; the bloggers, public reps, speakers, students, celebrities, social media leaders, etc.
Email campaign – use a provider such as MailChimp rather than a personal email address and schedule a series of emails e.g. the invite, special features, extra speakers, reminders etc.
Social Media – twitter, facebook, google+, blog, linkedin, pinterest etc.
- – Twitter; twitter stream of hashtags, pre written tweets, scheduled tweets.
- – Facebook; Flyer and link on timeline and FBX ad targeting.
- – Google+; Add photo of flyer / poster and post to relevant circles.
- – Use your blogging platform if you have one.
- – LinkedIn; Target specialised groups that you are a member of.
- – Pinterest; Use the poster, flyer and any visuals you may have in advance.
- – There are many very useful event management apps available
During the event itself we create a sign-up form (this can be done with an iPad app for instance). It is essential, of course, that you have a sufficient wad of business cards, and it is always good to have participant name badges. If the event is twitter related it is a clever move to have space on the name tag for the participant’s twitter name also. On all print items during the event you really should have the event’s social media follow buttons.
Also during the event, it is always a good idea to encourage the participants to ‘tweet’ about the event, the speakers or their experience. Either way, be sure to appoint a friend or colleague to tweet photos etc. It is even better if you organise for a photographer and / or videographer and take photos of the attendees as well as the speakers and / or the exhibitions.
Tips and Timesavers.
Finally, when the event is over here are a few tailwaggers that expand the footprint of the event:
- Post the photos and or videos on your Facebook page and tag as many people you can.
- Share photos to social media sites pertaining to the event (or your own).
- Contact the people who helped share the information online, to thank them.
- Hold a team wrap up meeting to review the event and where to improve.
- If permissible, share any presentations online with the participants.
What I really want to highlight in this post is to remember that being professional about staging successful events is not only about picking the venue, the food, getting sponsors and hiring modern equipment. It’s also about the experience that the participants have, before and during the event, when all these things are combined. In addition, as mobile devices are part of everybody’s life nowadays, it really is a given that online activity is an integral part of an event experience. It’s only successful events that encourage participants to share their experience with their peer’s who in turn may become future customers at / prospects for your events.
Whether it is a sponsorship event, a seminar, a presentation or an exhibition, consider the benefits of outsourcing a lot of the ‘grief’ to professionals. In the main, this will allow you to take time to know your audience and how they like to network / engage. In this way you will be more relevant to them, and they will appreciate your efforts a lot more.
If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page. Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers. Jim – O’C&K
[…] Successful events are not only about venues, food and getting sponsors. It’s also about the participant's experience before,during and after the event. […]
mm… I just disagree with one thing. I don’t think you need to prepare many emails to the list of subscribers because that may cause exhaustion in them and subsequently unsubscribes from a list. Keep the emails to a reasonable extent. Not too many, not too few either for better results.
You’re absolutely right George. I was referring to the scenario where you might have a long run-in time. An email in relation to something exciting keeps it front of mind for the attendee and hopefully build on the expectation. But you’re correct – a plethora of emails for the sake of it would be a turn-off. Cheers and thanks.
Jim, Excellent blog lots of tips and nuggets of information to go on. love the idea of tweeting during the event but what happens when your client is anti technology during his event which is the case for this conference. Thanks Ana
Ana – I appreciate that the event focuses on de-stressing amongst other elements of personal development so if he doesn’t want participants online, then perhaps you (your team) could tweet or post on facebook/ linkedin through the day. The use of a hashtag before and during can be positive reinforcement for the participants and won’t do any harm for Jack’s awareness building either. Thanks for the kind words above.