“It has to be all hands on deck,” Veronica Purvis (pictured left) urged, smiling because her daughter has apparently heard this at home many times. “You want to give your constituents—speakers, attendees, staff, sponsors (don’t forget them)—the tools they need to spread the word. [AM&P Network] made video promotion easy for us.” Added co-presenter Jamilah Senter: “Get it, do it, done, is the key to all hands on deck.”
“Think about your content and what’s most relevant for people because we do have short attention spans,” Senter, vice president marketing communications, MCI USA, said in an excellent session at our AMPLIFY June conference titled Rapid Fire Tips to Amplify Your Event Marketing Efforts.
“We cannot take in too many pieces of information [at one time]. We think the whole event is amazing and fabulous, right? But we can’t tell everybody everything because people just can’t absorb all that. And that’s when they shut down and tune out. So really, less is more.”
I’ve found my theme of the week, if you recall Monday’s story on Jim VandeHei of Axios and their Smart Brevity philosophy. What Senter says makes sense. Does the VP of marketing need to know about the great content session you have? Does the CEO need to see the email on sales roundtables? Use your segmentation wisely.
Senter and Purvis, executive director, Journalism Education Association, delivered a succinct and straightforward reminder of the keys to event marketing. Here are more ideas and takeaways that came out of it.
Involve the marketing team from the start. It’s really important that the marketing team is in the know for every touchpoint of your event. “The marketing team, the creative team, the content team, they most likely are some of the most creative people within your organization. Leverage them early,” Senter said. Marketing can also help to mitigate risks because they may know about competing events and offer strategies to offset those.
Establish your goals based on what’s doable and affordable, not just what you want to accomplish. If the goal is to increase first-time attendees by 15%, then highlight first-timer programs, welcome breakfasts and buddy systems; showcase video testimonials from last year’s first-timers. Brainstorming with your colleagues in other departments really helps activate some different things to do. Choose your audience segments—could be first-timers, could be by experience level or demographics; you don’t want to promote every aspect of the event to everyone. Look at audience behavior—what have they previously signed up for or taken part in that will help in how you market to them.
Use all content available to you. “What is the content available that will get people to your event?” Purvis asked. “It’s about drawing people in.” Newsletters, case studies, videos, white papers, podcasts can all preview something or someone in the event. “See what gaps exist in your content and how you can fill those.”
When promoting your event format—in-person, virtual or hybrid—think specifically about what makes each of those special. Senter recalled when we first all did virtual in 2020. “We picked it up and did it over here,” she said motioning to the side, “instead of really thinking about how it’s delivered and how it should be modified. You want to go beyond [just saying] that you have these three formats available. Maybe virtual people are getting bonus video content that people in person didn’t get. How can you add value to each of those formats? I’ve seen a lot of events that say, ‘buy it this way, buy it that way.’ Well okay… But what are the exclusive experiences you can have in person? Then leverage those.” Added Purvis: “Make sure your brand theme carries through and resonates and aligns with your organization’s tones. So graphics are consistent and not confusing.”
Think about how you can deliver content in a more interesting way. “How can we make this experience so inviting and exciting?” Senter asked. What immersive experiences can you offer? You want to think about event design and experiential marketing components to bring on that next–level feeling of participation and engagement. Purvis gave an example of a clinical trials event she helped to organize for people of color, recalling that a simple Lyft certificate showed people that they really cared about their attendance. “It felt nice and helped elevate the exclusivity of the event,” she said. “Think about the different touchpoints that can make the event feel special.”
Plan post-event marketing before the event. “It’s easier when you do it when you’re doing your pre-event marketing,” Purvis said. “Use it to continue to recruit potential members and other stakeholders. Show highlight reels, [air] real-time memories of attendees. And start promoting the next event with your post-event marketing messaging as well.”
“Let’s get the most out of your [organization’s] effort and money by extending that content in some way,” added Senter.