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When marketers have an event (or series of events) in the works, they may wonder how they can best market the event and promote their product or services during it.

There are definitely best-practices for event marketing, and those practices can better ensure a successful year of events for your business.

Event marketing occupies 21% of most corporate marketing budgets, according to one study. That's a lot of money, time, and effort going into event marketing. Following these tips may make those investments worthwhile.

1. Get the timing right

With business and marketing budgets, timing is everything. You have to make sure you plan out your events and event marketing budget to align correctly with the waxing and waning yearly cash flow.

Q1 can tend to be more famine than feast because you are coming off the holidays and many clients and customers are not looking to spend a lot of money. For the same reason, most businesses are not looking to begin new projects in Q1.

Depending on where you are located, planning events during the winter season can also be difficult. Many event planners likely have to account for fewer people being willing to come out in the bitter cold of late winter, whereas they might be more game for a midsummer event.

2. Know your audience

You have to consider who you are trying to engage, when the best time is to engage them, and how you will go about engaging those targets.

Every dollar spent on event marketing needs to be geared toward the right audience. By studying event demographics, you can better understand your targets, whether they are being properly engaged, and what you need to do better with your next event marketing push.

3. Be strategic with partners and locations

Aligning your brand with key partners can make engaging with your target market easier. Often, those partners can be the gateway to desirable industry events. However, it is generally wise to steer clear of "year one" or inaugural events unless you know the organizers personally and know they have a strong track record.

Location is also key with events. Try your best to be placed in a high-traffic area on the event floor, such as the entrance or end caps. Those locations will provide the best ROI, which is an especially important consideration for those being mindful of their budget. Moreover, try to avoid loud areas, such as those near live music.

4. Have clear objectives

What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) for the event? What are you using to measure the success of your event and your event marketing plan? A business must have a process for measuring success so that it can better plan for each subsequent event.

5. Consider staffing needs

Always consider staffing needs for events and event marketing outreach. Brand ambassadors and salespeople will need training in business best-practices. A time investment in the beginning will lead to a big payoff in the end with highly trained staff ready to get your message out there to your target market.

Pre-event, map everything out and have a standard operating procedure in place.

6. Plan your setup

Your setup should stick in the mind of eventgoers for weeks or months after the event has concluded. The booth staff should be in professional attire, the setup should be mobile and easy to set up, and technology and marketing materials should be integrated into the setup.

Pro tip: always bring zip ties, duct tape, a Sharpie, and industrial scissors.

7. Design merch or swag

Anyone attending an event and engaging with a company at that event will expect some sort of merchandise or "swag." That allows your brand to live on outside of the event.

People love free stuff, and they will take your branded items to their homes, their workplaces, their cars, or give them to other people. It's a great way to spread your branding far and wide.

8. Plan social media content

Social media content is another way for the experience and your brand to live outside the event.

Document and publish everything from the event—from behind-the-scenes setup to engaging with customers. All social content created at the event should be easily shareable. Create incentives for people to share your brand on social media, turning attendees into brand ambassadors.

9. Treat everyone as a customer

You're not just engaging attendees at events; you are looking to engage everyone who passes your booth. As easy way to engage people is with gift cards of $5-10 each—nothing crazy—that you can use as rewards for your staff or for giveaways.

Reward your event staff with items such as energy bars or bottles of water. You should want to engage everyone at an event—staff, workers, volunteers, management, organizers, etc.

10. Track your process

Each event you do creates a process. Is it a process you can "rinse and repeat"? What does your process look like for future events?

Concentrate on the process of getting people into your sales funnel, and create a customer map that determines what happens once they are in the funnel. Before heading into the event field, your process and funnel map should be flawlessly laid out.

* * *

The event world is a great opportunity to introduce your brand to people and get your name and mission heard. By breaking into event marketing and following the tips outlined in this article, you are sure to get a successful return on your investment of time and money.

More Resources on Event Marketing Tips

The Secret to Successful B2B Events: Five Tips for Thoughtful Design

16 Planning Tips for Tradeshow Success [Infographic]

What's Your Post-Tradeshow Plan? Six Tips for a Successful Follow-Up Campaign

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10 Essential Tips for Successful Event Marketing

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image of Ray Sheehan

Ray Sheehan is the owner of Old City Media, a national sponsorship marketing agency.

LinkedIn: Ray Sheehan