We’ve all attended events and wondered how did they get so many people to attend? During my educational years, I had the privilege of taking a hospitality course by Disney. I remember being impressed by a single phrase that Walt Disney had coined – “you don’t build it for yourself, you find out what the people want and you build it for them”. That single phrase can be applied to so many aspects of one’s career. How to promote an event would certainly fall into that rule.
Of course the easiest way to promote any event would be to have the right budget and just buy up ad space in related markets. But for most of us, the luxury of this type of budget doesn’t exist and you have to come up with creative ways to get the word out. Well, luckily you don’t have to be a marketing executive to know how to promote an event. In today’s digital age, there are many low cost, and even free, ways to get people to come out.
Promote An Event – Find Out What The People Want
When people ask me how to promote an event, one of the first things I ask them is “how do you know that people will want to come out”. If I start getting answers like “oh because I have this great new product that I know people will love” I realize that this event could be on a collision course from the get go. Just because you think your product is the greatest and newest there is, doesn’t mean that everyone in your industry will agree. Actually they may even feel like they being targeted for a sales pitch and will avoid the event altogether.
Recently, my company ran a series of networking events for the meeting and events industry. Before I even began to think of how to promote an event, I needed to find out what people in this industry wanted to do and when. So I began by asking a few colleagues what they thought were key decision factors on events they attended. From those initial meeting, I had about ten questions. I then took those question and narrowed them down to about four key ones. Be respectful of people’s time. Many will answer a couple of quick and easy question. But if you start taking up too much of their valued time, you won’t get many replies. Also, if you can, provide an incentive for people that actually do take the time to answer your questions. A free white paper or a token gift, if you have the budget, is a nice gesture and tells people that you appreciate the effort on their part to help you. For my needs, I needed to get answers to those key questions from a broader audience. I turned to the web and found that there are several free survey software sites that you can use to set up your survey. Just a quick Google of free survey sites will give you a great place to start. Then I sent an email to my data base with a link to the survey as well as posted the information on all of my social media sites. This relatively easy exercise gave me the insight for what I needed to set up my successful events. I was quite surprised by some of the answers I was getting. For example, over 50% of the replies said that they preferred to have an event over the noon hour. This allowed them to network without the event taking up too much of their free time. I’ll explain the use of surveys in more depth in a later post.
Using Social Media to Promote An Event
Pretty much everyone we know has some type of social media presence. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are all very effective way to get your message out. But make sure that you have a social media presence that matches your professional life. For example, if you use Facebook for your family and friends, chances are they won’t be interested in attending one of your work events.
So, take a little time at the beginning to do your homework. It will make things easier and give you a clear picture of what it is that you need to do. Soon you’ll be creating and hosting successful events and your social media followers will be waiting to hear about the next event.