First steps for a great event marketing strategy

You’ve decided you want to engage with your existing and potential customers through an event. Your producer has researched the topics and is now working to confirm the top speakers in the area, you know who your target audience should be and what you want to achieve, now let’s see the results come in. In the past 8 years I’ve worked on over 50 events, so I’ve seen this story unfold in different ways. How do you give your all to make sure you get attendees to the event?

Before you go into channels, budgets and messaging, make sure you have the important steps in place: decide the who and the why.

The who and the why

Step #1: Really understand your target audience and build personas

I know, we already mentioned you know who your target audience should be, but don’t underestimate this step. It may be that your producer has told you the event will attract business executives in finance and accounting. Do you know which departments? Which job functions? Are these the only ones the event is targeting or are there complementary targets you can engage too?

Research previous events (if there are any in the company), competitor events, online communities and gain a better understanding of who the event content is targeting. Take into account that you have multiple segments of the audience (for example, you may have consultants, vendors, end users) and each will have a unique set of characteristics, which you need to understand. (further reading on Hubspot blog on building audience personas)

Step #2: Make sure your audience knows who should attend

You know who should attend, but does your audience know? When you’re working thoroughly on a product and you know it inside out, it’s easy to forget how it was when you didn’t know anything about it, but your audience could hear about the event or your company for the first time. Once again, test: show your event website to a friend or a colleague in your company not working on the event and see if they understand what it is about and who should attend. Add a section to your website where you present job titles, functions and/or industries of who should attend, especially if you’re running a B2B event.

Just listing the job titles or functions won’t be enough, you’ll also need to make sure the event agenda and content is also geared towards them. Put yourself in their shoes: how do they get value from your event and how can they use this in their companies? Use case studies and stats to push this message to your target audience.

Step #3: Establish you unique selling point and communicate it clearly

Pick 3 random business to business events and I can guarantee under why attend you will find stuff like hear from experts, network with your peers, learn about the latest in the industry. It may have been revolutionary a while ago, but now every event says the same. So what makes yours unique?

This will be hard, as most events are similar, but if you’re not offering something unique, why are you hosting the event? Research the competition and understand where your offering can be different, how you can leverage your network to bring better speakers, a new approach to the same topics or a new mix of attendees. Build a story with your event through amazing content design, that will guide them through a transformation (read more on trend #9 here). Then make sure this is crystal clear for your attendees, this is why they will choose your event over others.

Of course, this is just the beginning of a well-designed marketing strategy, but nothing can work without a solid foundation. What would you say is your starting point for a great marketing strategy?

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