It would be quite right to say that empty seats at events are the bane of every event professional’s existence. Be it planning, hosting or marketing an event, nothing is more discouraging than having a very derisory turnout despite having spent countless hours and resources to plan the event. Thus it is very important to develop a tactical plan that will help improve the attendance at your event. Here is a list of 7 surefire ways to attract the right attendees to register for an event.
1. Targeting the right audience
One of the most prevalent reasons because of which events end up having a low rate of attendance is because the event in itself failed to gather the required amount of attention among the right circles. Targeting the right audience for your event is of prime importance. It is only then that you can relay the benefits of your event and get them to be present for the same. Failing to check this to-do of the list will render every other properly planned and well executed marketing effort totally incompetent. For example, you can list your event at industry platforms and websites like BizBash that welcome targeted promotions and event listing.
If despite all your efforts at targeting, your events still don’t receive the desired amount of attendees, it is time to reconsider the value proposition of the event against the target audience. It would be helpful if you could draw up a persona of the audience you want to target vs the actual audience who would really benefit from your event. Zero in on people based on the job titles, industries and if or not their are the decision makers. The personas will give you a clearer idea of the right audience you need to reach out to.
2. Highlight the key success areas.
In case your event is recurring, you are already at an advantage with last year’s attendees. Remember to be thankful for their support and give them special offers for signing up this year again. For example, the PTTOW hosts an invite only west coast conference where the organizers reaches out to each attendee separately to set up a time to invite them personally. For the new attendees, you can highlight the success stories, testimonials, case studies and event highlights to endorse the benefits you are promising them. For example, you can see how HR Technology Conference and Exposition showcases the past year’s success stories. As a new measure, you may also invite last year’s participants to promote for you via blogs or tweets.
3. Get innovative with the Pricing
As mentioned previously, there should be a special pricing done for recurring audiences. This might be extended to the early birds for a while to entice them to sign up for the tickets. It is important to highlight the urgency of the offers so that more people get interested. Invitation email as well as social wall updates should highlight any pricing promotions that you have planned robustly so that your target audiences do not miss them.
4. When and Where
WHERE you event is at can be as important as WHAT your event is about. In events as in real estate, Location is a major crowd puller. So ensure you have a convenient and if possible coveted location for your event. Do not shy away from promoting your event site in all your campaigns. When it comes to the WHEN, it is best to avoid weekends or holidays for major events. Most importantly thoroughly research competing events to ensure you are not clashing with any. The only exception to this rule is if your prospective attendees have already flown into town for another event and you want to piggyback the opportunity. Piggybacking though risky if done correctly can prove to work wonders not only for an event but also for event campaigns like it did for Paddy Power.
5. Unleash the power of social media
The world is your address book when you have the power of social media at your disposal. You can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to leverage advertisements and promote your events. LinkedIn Company Pages, LinkedIn Events, and LinkedIn Groups are extremely helpful connecting with industry professionals who may benefit from your event.They facilitate collaborative group discussions which prove to be effective when organically generating buzz surrounding the event.
This not only integrates the event in the social media but acts as a platform where influential as well qualified industry individuals who are your potential attendees can easily access your event information. Another major benefit of using Linked groups is that all updates about the LinkedIn group activities reach the group members via email, thereby successfully killing two birds with one fine stone.
For Twitter, define the event hashtag at the very beginning and use it across all social media platforms that support it like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr. A quick trick to determine the best hashtags is to remember the R.U.L.E
R: The hashtag should be Relevant to your event
U: The hashtag should be Unique
L: The hashtag should Leverage your event
E: The hashtag should be Easy to remember
6. Use your Speaker’s and Sponsor’s ‘net’-worths
Speakers and sponsors are two of the major attractions that a successful event marketer can and should use to attract attendees. Both these groups of people are often industry influencers and have a very strong network of followers online as well as offline. Highlighting the event speakers and sponsors in the campaigns along with asking them to promote the event in their own circles both in and outside social media, is a great way of targeting a larger audience pool all of whom would fit the TA persona.
Furthermore, using the industry influencers, sponsors and speakers to promote your event on social media, or promoting your key speakers or sponsors in your campaigns are useful ways of attracting the attention of the right set of attendees. This was recently seen at the campaign ofClick Asia Summit 2016 where Robert Scoble was the keynote speaker. You could also redirect your social media followers directly to your registration page via strategically placed call to action links.
7. Play around with extra-curricular as a gesture of thanks
Simply highlighting the business benefits of your event may not always be enough. When it comes to value addition, value propositions as well as audience engagement plans of the event can be equally engaging for probable attendees to consider. For more such ideas and their benefits, read our blog post on strategies for audience engagement. As much as attendees would like to benefits from important speaker sessions, meetings and booth visits, they would also like to unwind and look for opportunities to have a little fun.
Many companies have now been channeling this path and including celebrities and artists for various performances at the event. For example, Oracle OpenWorld hosts Oracle Appreciation Event as a gesture to thank all attendees for their support. They advertise both their corporate event as well as their musical soirees simultaneously thereby drawing attendees from both end together.
This year features Grammy Award-winner Billy Joel performing at the event. This is an ingenious way to mix business with pleasure.
Having a sold out event is every event marketer’s dream, like it should be. Reaching out to people takes a few key taps and clicks thanks to social media. What is important here is to realise who you reach out to, what you want to tell them, how you offer your deliverables keeping in mind their benefit and how you use social media to the best of it’s potential.