After all of the planning required to host an event, you hope the old adage “if you build it, they will come” holds true—but will it? Without event promotion and marketing, you may not get the participation that you hoped for. To ensure that they will come once you’ve built it, read on for 5 event promotion tips:
Create a landing page
Those interested in your event will need to have more information. They likely already know about your organization and so it makes the most sense to create a page on your existing website with event details. Make sure that the page is both easy to find and contains important dates and times. If your event requires attendee participation (e.g., an academic conference), make sure that they know when and how to submit required information. If the information is not yet available, list it as “coming soon!” so that attendees know to check back. Be sure to keep it updated, and share any new or changing information here—these landing pages were especially helpful when events quickly changed course in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Use influencers and/or guest speakers
There are many reasons someone might want to attend your event, but one way to draw them in is to have a recognizable guest. A scientific society chose to have a Pulitzer prize winning journalist at their event this year, which both draws attendees who may want to meet this journalist but also teaches the value of scientific communication by this organization. If you’re hosting a regional event, consider inviting a local influencer or celebrity who can bring in their own followers while also contributing something meaningful to your event.
SEO has been a buzzword since the popularity of google searches and for good reason—they’re meant to figure out what people are googling. For those who know British royalty, people are more likely to google nicknames rather than full titles (e.g., “Kate Middleton” over “Catherine, Princess of Wales”). Use the same strategy for your event! What are people more likely to remember, a short, fun acronym or the long name of a professional organization? You should do your homework here, and make sure the acronym you chose isn’t something another event or society is using. Remember to take full advantage and use these acronyms to create an event hashtag or handle across social media platforms, too. The more traffic you can draw to your event, the better the attendance will be.
Your event is going to be great, and some people likely will come—but how can you entice more people to come? Consider ticket packages, like adding on a VIP experience or drink package. Do you have an opening reception? Maybe for an extra $20 per ticket, attendees are able to get 2 drink tickets with their registration. Drinks may be $12 each in person so this is cheaper for the attendee, but also tells them that you are promoting networking at the event. Networking is something that can’t be done from home, and so an emphasis on this might entice more people to attend. You could also consider different tiered packages with a VIP package—maybe there’s an extra dinner or a private speaker (see tip #3!) that those with VIP tickets can attend.
Giveaways and crowdsourcing
Consider offering the first 500 registrants into a raffle to win a free hotel night or conference dinner. Or, to entice younger attendees auction off a dinner with a notable professional in the field. If those options don’t seem financially feasible, then think about creating gift packages for anyone who registers by a certain date—maybe a reusable coffee mug that can be filled at the event with free coffee. People generally have enough tote bags and lanyards by now so these items may be less enticing—think outside the box, and think about what would make you register early for the event.