Thanks to the Internet, many more promotional avenues are available to event organizers than ever before, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional offline media and much easier to track and measure.
But how do you decide which avenue is best for you? Will it be the increasingly popular social media? Or perhaps a dedicated page on your website?
Let's consider some methods you can use to promote your next event.
Social media is an ever-growing part of marketing, and that doesn't look likely to change in the near future. Using the channel can be an excellent way to build buzz, exchange ideas, and engage with customers, clients, and industry professionals.
You can create a Facebook page and encourage people to "like" it by using incentives, such as a discount on ticket prices, for example. You can create a hashtag for your event to track discussions on Twitter. If your event is large enough, you could create a designated Twitter account for delegates and others to follow.
The possibilities are numerous, and the examples above are just the tip of the iceberg. But the problem with marketing on social media is that the pool of users is so large these days that it can be difficult to find the people you should be engaging with. The overwhelming noise can be daunting for those with no social media experience.
However, if you do your research, social networking can be an excellent means of reaching your target audience, finding a new audience, and getting new ideas. Social media is worth getting into; be willing to bet your competitors are already doing so.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a microsite is simply a small website, containing only about five to 10 pages. Events management is a great example of when to use microsites because it can be quite niche and specific.
Microsites allow you to gather all the information about a particular event in one place, away from other news and information. You can direct your delegates to one location, where they can find all your promotional materials (flyers, posters, emails, etc.).
A microsite also gives you the opportunity to manage your entire event. You can integrate ticket-buying and delegate-management systems into your site. The site can be used to post news, information, comments, and testimonials during and following the event.
However, building and maintaining effective microsites take time and effort. You need to make sure that you've got quality content on there that will engage your audience. You also need to ensure that you update the microsite leading up to your event. Don't just build it and hope they will come.
You also need to consider search engine optimization (SEO). Ideally, you'd like your microsite to rank well in search engines; however, because it's a new, small site, it will be going up against much larger, older sites.
If you've got the time to devote to building and maintaining one, a microsite can be a great means of promoting your event. But if all your time is taken up by organizing the event itself, you might want to try a promotional channel that is slightly less demanding and less time-consuming, such as building a promotional page on your website.
A Promotional Page on Your Site
A promotional page is by far the simplest way to promote your event online. But does that mean that it's the best way? Not necessarily. It's a cheaper way, certainly, and it can be done more quickly. And if you've got a content management system (CMS), creating and managing promotional pages will be easy.
Because such pages will be a part of your website, you'll already have a built-in readership willing to hear your latest news and views. And then, there's brand equity: Putting a page on your website immediately links the event to your brand. Your audience should think, "Oh, it must be good. I'll sign up!"
But if your company updates its website regularly (which it should, if only because search engines love updates), your new event page could get lost in all the other noise and news. The same applies to large websites with lots of content.
As noted in the previous section on microsites, you can easily fill five or so pages with information about your event. If you go down the promotional-page route, you've got only one page for all that information. Web users are impatient. They like easy-to-read content. They don't like massive chunks of text and info. And if your site visitors see a cluttered page, they're going to click away faster than you can say "click."
Brand equity is all well and good, but if you're in collaboration with another company, or you simply want to create a distinct identity for a particular event, promoting the event on your branded site could present a problem.
A promotional page may be the best method if your time and money are limited, but because of its drawbacks you should consider using this approach in conjunction with another.
So, What Is the Best Way to Promote Your Event?
If you had to choose only one approach, a microsite would be by far the most comprehensive. Ideally, however, you would want a hybrid approach: You need a comprehensive, integrated marketing strategy that encompasses not only online methods of promotion but also offline methods.
Of course, each company is different, and a comprehensive strategy is not always feasible—especially if time and money are tight. But you should definitely consider at least two of the approaches as part of your marketing plan.
Do your research, know your target market, and plan your strategy accordingly.
(Image courtesy of Bigstock, Three Arrows Darts)
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