Are trade shows and events a marketers best friend or have they become too-old fashioned? It could depend on your perspective, and how up-to-date (or out-of-date) your event marketing strategy is. The goal should be about finding ways to draw people in instead of interrupting them to get your message heard.
These are what are considered more “old school” event marketing approaches, such as event-hosting, with some ways to update them with a more inviting, helpful, inbound-oriented approach.
1. Use space at an event to promote your product.
In the past, the way to have a presence at an event would be to get a booth. You would put up your logo on a sign and you would stand at your booth willing to talk to anyone about your product or service who walked by.
Reconsider the actual space you use, and make it somewhere people want to hang out. You’re striving for an experience that’s comfortable, relaxed, and helpful. Then maybe you’ll have the time to do better qualification, too — like offering free demos or consultations customized to each attendee, instead of your quick elevator pitch.
2. Having a giant sign.
With most events comes an opportunity to have one thing — a giant sign promoting your company. Not to hate on brand visibility, but in the past, the sign may have just had your company name and possibly the booth where you could be found.
Take it a step further and have something that will really explain your company’s purpose for being at the event.
3. Sending direct mail to invite people to your event.
So you’re having an event. How do you get people there?
Leverage email as a channel. The reason one person wants to attend your event is going to be different than the next person. Using email marketing not only makes reaching out less expensive and invasive; it enables you to draw on your knowledge of recipients to personalize a message that’s most relevant to them.
4. Spamming registrants with updates.
Sometimes, event marketers get a little overzealous with the cheap and efficient nature of email and use it as a tool to effectively spam event registrants. Ease up on the email updates. You absolutely should remind attendees of important information. But there are two things you can do to communicate this information via email, without overflowing someone’s inbox: consider what information is most appropriate to send at what time, and consider what information you know a particular recipient has already consumed.
5. Not aligning content choices with audience.
Securing speakers and content for an event isn’t easy. You want to get speakers who are well known in the industry, but you also want to make sure they have experience presenting. Previously, event coordinators picked out of these two categories: 1) well known in the industry, or 2) produced quality content. It’s vital to make sure the content aligns with your target audience.
Before you choose your speakers, consider who you are trying to target, and think about your company’s buyer personas. Think about what your attendees are really looking for out of your event, and then choose your content accordingly. If your conference is an annual event, you can even survey your attendees to see what they want to learn about.
6. Keeping event content an exclusive secret.
It used to be that in order to draw people to your event, you had to promise exclusive content for attendees only.
The thing is, drawing people to an event shouldn’t be approached any differently than generating leads. Great content will usually do it, but those that aren’t ready to take the leap shouldn’t be “punished,” either.