When you’re ploughing all your energy into planning a fantastic event, there’s always the danger that you’ll neglect the most important part of all: making sure people actually turn up. To cut through the noise and get people excited, a few Tweets just isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to start thinking creatively.
1. Be a Matchmaker
Top of the agenda for conference-goers is networking, but often they’re dreading it. Luckily, you’re in a great position to take the pain out of the process.
Connecting visitors with the people they’re looking to partner with before they even get there is a powerful incentive to attend your event. It shows you get their needs and can genuinely help them to win new business – that this is an event they can’t afford to miss.
Case in point: StrategyHack recently took this one step further by matchmaking cool new startups with marketers who were excited about their idea and wanted to promote them. Needless to say, the chance to strike a mutually valuable relationship like this made those tickets a lot more attractive.
2. Shout Out to Last Year’s Visitors
Rather than simply getting a photographer to snap your event, capitalize on those images by making them part of next year’s marketing plan. When you take each photo, ask the person for their Twitter handle or even add them on Facebook / connect with them on LinkedIn.
Then, share a selection of the photos in the build up to your next event and tag these individuals, referring to them by name. They’ll be impressed at the personal touch, chuffed by the mention and reminded to pick up their ticket for this year’s event. Plus, they’re highly likely to reply or retweet your post, helping to promote your event to a wider audience.
3. Ask Them Questions
Contributing to in some way to the event encourages your audience to feel emotionally invested in its success. Besides, what better way to create the best possible event for your audience than to ask them what they want?
Via email and social media, ask attendees to suggest issues and problems affecting their industry. Ask them which speakers they rate, what topics they’d like covered and what they’d like to learn about.
If you do this far enough in advance, you can use it to shape the event itself – and to publicize it, by publicly reconnecting with contributors to show them exactly how you took their ideas on board. You can also use this information creatively as the basis for content like videos and event magazines…. And, of course, as research reports to add value for your exhibitors and corporate sponsors.
4. Put out “Taster” Content
Deciding which talks and sessions to go to can be a headache for attendees, especially when they know nothing about the speaker beyond the headshot and bio in the brochure. Get them psyched about the lineup and give speakers a chance to promote themselves by rolling out a content marketing strategy before your event begins.
Video/podcast interviews and guest blog posts by speakers are great ways to highlight their expertise and communication style. The more familiar your target audience is with their thinking, the more likely they are to make the effort to see them in person.
5. Devise a Carefully Coordinated Countdown
You need to start generating interest months in advance, but the days before the event are crucial for building buzz and making sure people don’t lose interest before the big day!
That means you need to step things up – and for that, you’ll need a well-orchestrated plan. In the final week or so, release at least one awesome hook or piece of content every day. That might be an event video from last year which includes testimonials from attendees, a pre-event webinar with top thought leaders, a pre-planned tie-in with an industry influencer who has agreed to promote the event for you, or a last-minute deal to get people clicking.
Whatever you have up your sleeve, make sure you keep up the momentum for the final push.