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The success of any event comes down to the value you add to the audience and participants.
You set yourself apart from many of the other speakers on the market when you demonstrate a desire to serve. By calling the event organizer or promoter and asking how you can provide value ahead of time, you are harnessing the power of pre-event marketing that will guarantee a much more successful turnout than without it.
As Seth Godin says, “Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.”
So, why should you invest in pre-event marketing? It gives you a chance to pre-sell yourself and create expert positioning, even with people who had never heard of you before. To make sure that you gain the most traction with audience attendance, do the gritty work of marketing well before the event.
You may think that it’s the promoter or event organizer’s job to conduct the marketing, but why would you leave the promotion of your business in the hands of someone that may not know you, let alone your company? Why not take it upon yourself to create a branded campaign for your potential audience and future clients? That way, by the time you take the stage, the audience already has a positive impression about you.
Event promoters are focused on filling seats and promoting the event. They aren’t concerned with promoting you. You can capitalize on your event participation, to promote and position yourself, while also promoting the event. This creates your authority positioning, and endears the event promotor to you, as you are helping them do their job — get the word out and potentially fill more seats.
Here are my top six ideas for influencing through pre-event marketing:
Most speaking events have an advertising program; you should ask to participate. Event organizers will most likely put your bio within the program to promote you as a speaker anyway. Go one step beyond and put something together to create more exposure. It doesn’t have to be costly; you can negotiate an ad as part of your speaker package. You can also run an inexpensive Facebook ad campaign and get more attention to your event participation. Include clear but brief descriptions of the event indicating definite benefits to attending. If this isn’t your first time around, create a compelling invite with endorsements and testimonials from previous attendees.
2. Swag bags
Most conferences give bags to their attendees. You can ask to put something in the bags that promotes your portion of the conference. This added buzz extends your reach to new attendees. I love 3D objects because they stand out amongst the many pamphlets and brochures you get from conferences.
There were a few times where we put pennies or jellybeans into pill bottles, so they made a lot of noise. As obnoxious as these ideas are, people tended to hold onto them even though they were useless objects. Instead of handing out business cards, we use these items for lead generation by inserting some sort of call to action to go to our website or see me speak at the event.
3. The hotel hijack
Location targeting for an audience through Facebook is another method I use as a part of pre-event marketing. I call it hotel hijacking. I will target within a mile radius of a hotel that I will be speaking at and post ad sponsored campaigns. This will reach conference attendees, as well as people who are not going to be interested in the conference, but the cost of the ad is so small, it makes sense to boost the post through Facebook. You can also use video ads and generate interest to audiences that you would not otherwise be able to reach.
4. Event hashtags
Event promoters usually create a hashtag for an event or conference. Use this to your advantage even before you speak. A client of mine, Stacey Ferguson, before getting on the plane to go speak, will “like” and join the group for the conference, and will post using the event’s hashtag to create exposure. She says that this strategy generates awareness and authority positioning, which increases attendance to her talk. In addition, she uses articles and videos under the hashtag with the goal to get “her face” in front of the audience in advance, as pre-event marketing.
Many promoters allow pre-event mailers to be sent out to all the attendees, to promote your conference booth or talk. They may not give you the full list of participants, but will mail a piece on your behalf, to drive leads. Depending on the offer and relationship with the event promoter, you may be allowed to pay for sponsorship to send your materials to the event’s mail house.
Email pre-event marketing is another great channel for you to promote, especially if you already have an existing list and following. If you wish to reach out further beyond your own following, you may ask partners, speakers or friends to mention the event in their emails. Make sure that you include a great subject line that inspires potential attendees, and add use social proof — positive feedback from previous events and clients.
6. Social platforms
Lastly, the greatest tool to create pre-event marketing is through social media. You can leverage other speakers that you know will be at the event, by posting that you are excited to hear them speak. This works really well because by tagging other speakers, it gets seen by both your network and their fans as well. It’s like you are hijacking their feed, while at the same time positioning yourself as a fellow celebrity and influencer.
Pre-event marketing is an underutilized strategy that will set you apart and make you a sought-after speaker. Not only does it offer a great way to raise your own visibility and credibility before an event, it builds attendee anticipation and experience, and event organizers love the additional promotion and value you are adding, making their jobs easier.