26 Mar Attract 300 + people to your event in just a few weeks (part I – it’s all about messaging)
Events are a great way to put your brand in front of a broad audience. These are also an excellent trust building opportunities if you are trying to sell a product or a service. I am not talking about elaborate galas, but rather free or low cost events designed to attract large crowds.
Judging by the number of events in the greater Seattle area, I do not need to convince anyone about the value of events. It is not uncommon to have 3-4 amazing events on the same night here in Seattle.
Running a successful event can position brand for a long lasting success, building strategic relationships and generate customers. Events are frequently used as “brand building” opportunities and the conversation starters.
But it is only true if you can convince people to come to your event…
Three year ago I knew nothing about running or promoting events. Heck, planning a birthday party for my kids seemed daunting. What is nobody shows up? Ever had that nagging feeling?
Since then, I left Microsoft, running events is an integral part of brand awareness strategy for both.
First time I had to run an event, I had no idea how to get the word out. Over the course of the last 18 months, I have learned what does and does not work for event promotion. I used the process to get 100+ attendees in less then a week and over 300 for events when I had time to plan. As a results, I’ve created a simple event promo process.
So what can YOU do to have a lot of people at your event. Below are the simple steps I follow.
Create Compelling Messaging. It all starts with a well crafted invitation
So many amazing events fall on deaf ears just because the event organizer fails to articulate just how amazing these are. Every part of the event invitation matters.
Exciting event title
Event title is one of the most critical part of your your event promotional strategy. [Tweet “Event title makes or breaks your event: boring title = people tune you out.”] The best approach to creating exciting title is to be brief, be specific, use empathetic language.
I just scanned a Startup Seattle event site for examples of the event titles – Which one do you think will get more attention?
A) WordPress Bootcamp – Build a better website with WordPress
B) Painting the Sunset: Better color for the web – Use CSS to create richer web experience
Here is another set of examples:
A) Starting and scaling your business
B) Everything but the kitchen sink for startups: start and scale your business
I think I know your answers, but do let me know in the comments section what you think.
Detailed event description
Once you captured your audience attention with the title, you need to keep them engaged with the event description.
You will need to create an enticing summary statement. Here is a summary statement for one of the StepNW events I am involved with:
“Resources and Relationships on the Eastside for Startups and People Looking to Work With Them”
It is short and specific, clearly identifies what the event is about and who would benefit from it. It also touches on the important issues facing by the attendees (finding resources and building relationships is hard for startups).
Furthermore, you would want to share detailed agenda, speakers names and bios (especially if you have established speakers).
Highlighting venue and sponsors is very important as well. Having strong sponsors helps you with building credibility. It also strengthens the relationships with the sponsors as well as encourages them to promote your event to their own audience.
Create registration link.
You would want to make the registration process as seamless as possible. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, you should use an existing event registration system, such as LeadPages or Eventbrite.
Both of these options allow integration of the registration with your existing website. An event is an excellent way to drive a lot of traffic to your page – if the event registration lives elsewhere, you will be losing a lot of valuable traffic.
This does not mean have a button on your website that redirects to Eventbrite. Rather, you should use a widget to actually host Eventbrite registration on your event page.
Generate Initial Buzz: Use the power of social to get more visitors to your event
Once you have your initial prep work complete, it is time to start getting the word out.
Create initial buzz on Social Media
Social media is an amazing platform for getting the word out. It is also a great driver of traffic from the willing audience.
Post event on all of the social media site and point to the main registration link on your webpage. As a minimum, you should create an announcement on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. You can also post to groups, encourage others to attend and invite their friends.
Your next step is to send your first tweet with the event info.
Post on all relevant local and global event sites
There are a lot of event sites that can help you with driving promotion. For example, about 25% of the startup event audience comes from announcements at the 3-4 major event sites catering to the local entrepreneurial community.
Here are a couple of potential areas to find sites to post your events:
- Industry specific event sites (search Facebook and Google for groups and event site relevant to your event)
- Events section for the major news site (works well for live events)
This is also a good time to an email announcement to your partner and email list. Our recommendation is you create a couple of canned messages and use Click to Tweet product.
You should start these two steps 3-4 weeks before your event launch to allow enough time to complete the steps. In the next blog, I will cover Creating buzz for your next event.