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From “Buzz” to Bucks: Make the Most Of Event Marketing

Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky

Events can be great marketing tools for a small business. According to digital asset management firm WebDAM, 67% of business-to-business marketers consider event marketing the most effective strategy. With some simple planning, hosting the perfect event for your business is a great way to gain new customers, keep the old and generate awareness for your company.

Eight easy steps to build an effective event marketing strategy:

Set goals. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to gather 25 qualified leads, attract 50 new customers or sell $5,000 worth of product? Creating measurable goals will help you determine what type of event will work best and better evaluate its success.

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Figure out what type of event will achieve your goals. If you want to attract new customers, a blowout party with lots of advance advertising might work best. If your goal is to sell product, you might want to incorporate in-store demonstrations. If you’re aiming for qualified leads, consider hosting a seminar.  Just make sure your strategy matches up with your end goal.

Select a date, choose a budget and plan backwards. Choose a date and then identify what must be done before that date to make the event a reality.

Depending on the size of your event, this might include finding a venue, renting tables and chairs, hiring a caterer, finding speakers, developing educational materials, ordering product and promoting the event. Build in extra time in case projects are unexpectedly thrown off track. Build in buffers to provide extra time to check last-minute details.

Promote your event. Advance promotion is key to a well-attended event. Start four to six weeks before the event. Consider new and innovative ways to elevate your marketing materials through LED signage, vinyl lettering or vehicle magnets to help promote your event and spread the word throughout the community. If you’ve invited special guests or presenters to participate, encourage them to promote the event throughout their communications networks via email, social media, online, in-store or any other channel they are free to leverage.

Invite guests. Using helps your event stand out from the crowd. Encourage recipients to visit your business website for more information about the event and to RSVP. Have a large customer base? No problem. Direct mail is a simple and effective way to quickly send invitations to a mass market audience, while saving you time on the front end. According to a Print In the Mix survey, 56% respondents said they found printed material to be the ‘most trustworthy’ of media channels.

Alert the media. Consider creating a press release about your event to send to local reporters and bloggers. Draft an eye-catching pitch to accompany your release to request a reporter cover the event in person.  Start by investigating local news beats to determine which reporter is best fit to cover your event. Also look for local community calendar listings in newspapers and blogs as means to get your event on calendars ahead of time.

Get festive. Decorate your location with banners, posters and flyers on the day of the event to create a celebratory feel. They not only provide decoration, but also draw foot traffic through the door. Think about innovative promotional giveaways to keep the marketing message going after the event ends such as branded mugs, calendar magnets, or tote bags.

Capture contact information. To stay in touch with all the customers and prospects who attend your event, create a sign-up sheet where people can register to receive email or print mailings from your business. A marketing event is a great opportunity to rev up your lead generation strategy. Follow up shortly after the event with a marketing message and a special offer.

A little bit of planning will leave you time to enjoy the event, network your way to success and leave you in prime position to watch your business and profits grow.

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