5 tips for event marketing

By Scott Gebler | Marketing Manager


from_the_marketing_guy1. Start early

It may sound simple, but promoting an event always seems to start later than intended. Way out in advance you might not have all the details — but as soon as the event’s date, time and place are set, it’s a good idea to get it on people’s agendas.

If your event is annual, this could (and probably should) mean promoting next year’s event this year. After all, your best and most loyal clients/customers will probably be right there in the booth, exhibit hall, presentation rooms and networking events.

If you’re the event host, there’s no harm having next year’s registration form on-hand at this year’s event. Some other ideas include:

  • Tiered, time-sensitive early-bird registration rates
  • “Frequent Flier” –style incentives for repeat attendees
  • Attendee-only discounts on your other products/services


2. Diversify your marketing.

For a number of years, I marketed an event with a registration charge close to $1,000 — a number that didn’t include hotel accommodations or airfare. Throw in the attendees’ indirect costs of time out-of-office and away from family/home, and you can really be asking a lot.

So how did that event’s very first registration come in? From a tweet.

They way people receive and process information is more diverse than ever, and your marketing plan should be too. It might otherwise be easy to discount the effectiveness of a tool like Twitter (or Facebook or LinkedIn or print or web ads, etc.) but it says here that they work when part of a comprehensive plan.

3. Remember what you’re asking for.

This really applies to all marketing in general, but it’s especially true in event marketing. Be mindful of exactly what each piece of your marketing communication is asking your audience to do, particularly your call-to-action. Do you ask them to register immediately — or should you direct them to the website for more info first? Or, is this a tougher sell that you want them to contact a rep?

And, as mentioned in #3, above, it’s also important to consider everything you’re asking of a potential event attendee. Registration fees are more obvious, but you might also be asking them to travel hundreds (if not thousands) of miles. You might be asking them to leave their family behind for a few days. You might be asking them to come to a new city that is completely unfamiliar. Acknowledging those things in both your marketing and your event plans can make a huge difference. You should address all these issues and provide solutions whenever possible.

4. Make hay while the sun shines.

While attending (or especially hosting) an event can be hectic, its important to take advantage of all the opportunities your face-time can present. Chances are, there will never be a better time for you to gather materials that can be invaluable in your advertisements and other promotions. Set up a video interview area. Go with a “man-on-the-street” approach. Hand out surveys to gather data and feedback. Bring a voice recorder. Take pictures. Efforts you make at the event could potentially provide you with a year’s worth of materials to use in marketing and advertising.

5. Don’t forget the follow-up.

From what I’ve seen, one of the easiest ways to NOT capitalize on your event is by forgetting the follow-up. Don’t forget about the return on your investment. Gather everything you can from colleagues and staff, compile it, and put it to work:

  • Compile all the lead information you can — especially the attendee list if you can get it — and enter everything into your CRM.
  • Keep up the communications, whether by email, mail, phone or on-site visits. Even something as simple as a “thank you” or “it was nice to see you” can be effective.
  • Encourage all staff members to take pictures and/or videos, then collect them all and store them centrally for future marketing.
  • Type up or transcribe all testimonials or quotes.