Event Marketing: What It Is And How It Can Help Your Small Business

27th September 2016

Event Marketing - Tips for Small Businesses

Event marketing is the process of developing or taking part in an exhibition, conference, workshop, presentation, etc. to promote your product, service or cause. It provides many opportunities to increase brand awareness, engage with customers and provide additional information. We often equate event marketing with large-scale conferences. But it’s much more than that and spans a much wider area. For example, it could include small workshops, online seminars, networking events or even the act of sponsoring events. Like most areas of marketing, there are no strict rules and businesses utilise event marketing in their own way to achieve their objectives.

How Event Marketing Can Help Your Business

There are many ways event marketing can help your business.

It allows you to

  • Meet with and engage with your existing customers and target new customers
  • Generate and qualify valuable leads
  • Grab attention, create impact, and provide something extra
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise
  • Create a platform where potential customers can ask questions
  • Build relationships and create communities
  • Demonstrate your ethos and personality
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Increase brand awareness

Tips For Incorporating Event Marketing Into Your Business Plan

If you’re thinking of dipping your toe in the water, read our tips to make the most of your event marketing activities.

Plan Ahead

The thing about live events is that they are finite. They last for a certain amount of time and then they end. So it is important that you plan ahead and get everything in place to make the most of time available. You can’t go back again and re-do what didn’t work.

Know Your Audience

When looking for suitable event marketing opportunities, it’s important to be clear on your target audience. For example, if you’re considering exhibiting at a conference, find out as much as you can about attendees. Large events gather lots of information. Attendees will go through a detailed registration process which provides data on sectors, positions within companies, purpose of attending, likely budgets, etc. Smaller events may not be so specific and so it is important to be discerning.

Of course, if you’re creating your own event, you will have control over who you market it to and the audience you attract.

Be Clear About Objectives

As with any form of marketing, it is important to be clear on your objectives. What do you wish to achieve? What is the purpose? If you’re exhibiting, your purpose may be to demonstrate your product/service to as many people as possible and gather contact details of interested parties. If you’re attending an event as a speaker, your purpose may be to present yourself as an expert in your field, to raise your profile and indirectly create awareness of your business. Whatever the event, be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. This will make the preparation so much easier. It will also provide you with something to measure against for future campaigns.

Do Your Research

Before signing up for an event, make sure you do your research. Find out everything you can about the event organiser and any previous events they have organised. It’s also a good idea to visit similar events to gather as much information as possible and generate some ideas.

Make An Impact

Whatever you do, do it well and leave a lasting impression. This is especially true if you’re exhibiting at a large conference. You will be competing with other companies with similar offerings and so it is important to stand out from the competition. Be creative and come up with innovative ideas.

Make Sure They Remember You

Events are finite and so it is important that delegates remember you after they have left. Make an impact and ensure you leave a lasting impression. At a large business conference, attendees will gather a large volume of business cards, leaflets and other promotional materials. Much of this will be forgotten and then disposed of. However, research shows that promotional products are less likely to be thrown away. This is particularly true of practical items that can be used repeatedly. For example, pens, travel card holders, trolley coins, etc. Bags are also useful to hand out at conferences, as they provide a place for delegates to stash their other promotional materials. Make them as visually appealing as possible.

Obtain Contact Details And Follow Up

A lot of time and resources go into event planning and into the day itself. If you have meaningful conversations with attendees, make sure you take down their details. Some event organisers will provide you with scanners to enable you to capture details. If not, make sure you keep a list and jot down contact names and details. And don’t forget to follow up after the event.

Spread The Word

Even if you’re not organising the event yourself, let contacts know you’ll be attending/exhibiting. This will allow customers and potential customers to visit you during the event. Make sure you allow enough time for networking and catching up.

Consider Sponsorship Opportunities

Exhibiting isn’t the only way you can make an impact at an event. There are lots of opportunities for you to make your mark. For example, sponsoring the event, obtaining an ad/editorial space in the event magazine, adding promotional products or materials to delegate packs, etc. Look for ways to increase awareness of your brand and ensure you create a lasting impression.

Consider Speaking/Panel Events

Many large events hold seminars and workshops. If you feel you have something to add, it’s worth considering applying to be a speaker or panellist. This will demonstrate your knowledge and help promote you as an expert in your industry.

If you create a presentation, don’t forget to make it available after the event by uploading it to your website or platforms such as Slideshare, etc. Display your contact details prominently and encourage people to share by providing a hashtag.

Visit Other Stands

If you’re exhibiting at a conference, it’s easy to get caught up in your own stand and remain there for the duration. However, it is important to walk around and meeting other exhibitors. You may find new customers or interesting ways to collaborate and assist each other.

Evaluate

After the conference and follow-ups, it is important to take stock and evaluate. Refer back to your objectives and work out where you were successful and where improvements are needed for future events.

Event marketing is a great way to market your product, service or cause. If done well, it can increase brand awareness, generate leads, engage your customers, identify you as an expert and ultimately drive sales. Be discerning about the events you attend, do your research, plan ahead and make sure you create a lasting impression.

Summary

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