A great event marketing campaign begins at least 4-6 months in advance so attendees can plan to attend, buy tickets, and make travel arrangements. If you’re in charge of planning your event marketing campaign, here are 7 types of marketing communications to consider.
#1 – Save the Date Postcard
A save the date postcard is a cheap way to let people know well in advance that you are having a conference. Ideally, it should be sent out about 4-5 months before your event, and should give details like date, location, and website address. Save the date postcards can also double as conference flyers, which can be given out at any other events or around campus.
#2 – Website
Along with the save the date postcard, getting your website set up during the initial planning stages is critical for giving potential sponsors and speakers information about your event. Often, conferences are hesitant to get the site up and running early because they think they don’t have any solid details about the conference to advertise. However, just having a web presence gives speakers and sponsors the piece of mind that you are taking the conference seriously.
Here are some ideas of what you should include:
- region-specific logistics
- opportunities for sponsorship
- proposed topics and objectives
- tentative agenda
- keynote and panelist bios
- who should attend
- information on past conferences
- information on your organization
- workshop details
- special events
- sponsors logos and links
- a press kit
- option to join a mailing list
- online registration option
- local attractions + travel guide
Your website is your means of informing your audience of any news about your event. That includes potential attendees, potential speakers, sponsors, and the press. You can even make this an interactive experience by
- Collecting Feedback – Set up surveys to obtain initial feedback from potential attendees on possible topics and expectations
- Create Newsletter – Allow visitors to join a mailing list for continual updates as the event develops and to aid in word of mouth marketing
- Set Up Forum – Setting up a forum can be a great way to establish a community presence before the event. Forums help facilitate discussion before, during and after the event.
Another critical function of your website is to provide online registration for your event. You can set up online payment processing through online event registration vendors such as Acteva.com.
#3 – Social Media Presence
#4 – Mailer
A mailer typically includes all currently known conference details including the benefits of attending, who will be speaking, the types of events planned, a proposed agenda, your sponsors, and any other general information. It should also emphasize date, location, and your website, and urge readers to register online.
The mailer is designed to build awareness of your event now that many of your key features have been confirmed and to urge people to register for the event before it is sold out. You will want to send it at least 6-8 weeks in advance.
#5 – Email Announcements
One of the cheapest and most efficient methods of marketing is email marketing. However, the newly implemented CAN-SPAM Act imposes a number of restrictions on your mailings. If your organization does not have a list of members who have chosen to ‘opt in’, you must include certain information in your emails. Some guidelines include:
- Don’t use misleading sender information or subjects
- Include a postal address
- Include a clear method for recipients to unsubscribe
- If your list isn’t ‘opt-in,’ include a clear notice that states the e-mail is an advertisement or solicitation
Typically, emails are sent out about 6 weeks before your conference to coincide with the mailers, and again around 2 weeks before your conference to remind those who may have put off registration. They should announce the event and drive people to your website for more information and to register. You may also want to send out a final email a day or two before the conference to those registered to provide general information such as driving directions, parking options, and opening registration times.
#6 – Advertising
Advertising in trade publications, local newspapers, and through pay-per-click campaigns in search engines can be a good way to promote your conference and remind people to register. Where you advertise will depend greatly on your target audience and budget.
#7 – Banners/Posters
Posters and banners also aid to promote awareness of your event. You can hang posters inside your organization or by your ticket sales locations. Banners can be hung outside as reminders of your event. For the majority of conferences we work with, banners are full color, scrimm vinyl with grommets and are typically 6′x3′. Posters are typically 24″x36″ and mounted.
#8 – Day of Event Brochure
The day of event brochure is basically the program guide and summary of the day’s events. It should include all information related to your event, which can include a welcome letter, the agenda, the location with map, keynote pictures, biographies, and quotes, panel descriptions and panelists, other events such as career fair or cocktail reception information, sponsor ads and logos, information about the organization managing the event, volunteers and committee members, etc.