“The sole purpose of business is service. The sole purpose of advertising is explaining the service which business renders.”
Unless you know what goes into publicizing events, you are not likely to have the desired turnout at your event. Creating a publicity campaign around an event is a lot of fun and can summon every bit of ingenuity at your disposal. An effective publicity makes use of both traditional methods as well as modern social media tools. Depending on the nature of your event, you can either have a pre-decided guest list or the event can be open to public with a target audience in mind. The latter type of events demands a lot more intensive publicity campaign. The publicity generally requires the following information to be communicated: the date and lieu, the agenda, any costs associated with attendance, any measures attendees should take before arriving, general event and brand awareness for those not attending. The publicity campaign of an event, generally, has three stages:
- Prior to the Event: At this stage you publicize the purpose of the event, mainly to the target audience.
- At the Event: You try and stretch the reach of the event well beyond the people physically present at the event.
- Following the Event: At this stage you leverage the event for creating brand awareness. It also includes continuing a relationship with the attendees.
However, for the purpose of this essay, I will only cover the pre-event publicity that starts with the creation of a cogent marketing plan.
YOUR MARKETING PLAN
The marketing plan for your event should comprise:
- Information about the Target Market: Who you intend the event and its publicity to target? Ascertain what your target market thinks and how they react to some of your publicity techniques.
- Overview of the Event: Include basic information about what your event consists of. Describe your event in a way that not only enables people to attend it but also makes them want to attend it. Description should be short, leaving people wanting to find out more.
- Event’s Objectives: What is your main purpose from the event? What are the key performance indicators to measure its success?
- Publicizing Events Strategy: How do you plan to reach out to your target market to ensure they know about your event? Start by deciding a media strategy, including social media and the traditional media. A lot of effective publicity, these days, can be done for a minimal cost with a bit of imagination. For many events you may not even need paid media, especially with a good PR. Create a brand identity of your event, including:
- Name: The name should be pertinent and easy to remember. Create an acronym for longer names.
- Perception: Create a perception that resembles what you want the guests to experience at your event.
- Positioning: Think of a catchy word or phrase to publicize your event, something that sounds like a rallying cry to the target audience.
- Website: Consolidate your content architecture on an event website or on a page on your company’s website. Your website can serve as a hub for social action or can merely be a source of information. These days you can set up a website on your own with little or no help and with limited knowledge.
- Social Media: In our world a large part of your event’s target audience are online as social media has become an integral part of our lives. Make social media a part of all your publicizing events plan, utilizing a social media tool that is important to your audience. Some of the most popular platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter. Whatever your choice of the social media, you need to make sure that you have content that people want to share and conversations that people would like to join in.
- Press Launch: Hosting a press launch is generally a highly cost effective way to generate media coverage for your event. Make sure to prepare a press pack ready for the launch that includes a fact sheet, a list of all the performers with their bios, a short profile of your business and any partners involved, and a brief history of the event. Follow up with all attendees to check if they need further information. Also issue a press release, where possible.
- Blogging: You can either create your own blog or use an established blogger on the subject.
- PR: PR is very useful in convincing others of the worth of your event, especially for external events that the general public, industry people, or media can attend. PR can also be used to influence the press by cultivating relationships with journalists and proactively providing them with information.
- Online Event Sites: You can list your event on a number of online listing sites that are usually free. These sites are frequently visited and can be useful in driving traffic to your event website.
- Online Advertising: The most effective tools for online advertising are Facebook and Google AdWords. These can be made highly effective by focusing on the right demography in the right location.
- Conventional Advertisement: This includes all traditional modes of advertisement such as radio, outdoor marketing, graffiti, road signs, mobile marketing, TV, Press, direct mail etc.
- Timing: Plan your marketing timings to resonate with the timings of your event planning. Be aware of what else you are competing with to beg your target market’s attention and presence at the same time as your event. Generally, in order for it to be effective, give your marketing plan three to four months before the event. However, it is usually best to focus the main push of the marketing about one month before the event, the time people are likely to be marking their diaries for the period during which your event is planned. Be aware of the relevant events leading up to yours they are usually good opportunities to market your event. See if you can do some promotional activity at that point in time.
Whatever methods you choose, a targeted marketing approach is always better than doing a bit of everything. A marketing plan is not merely about determining what to do and when; it is more about ensuring that the whole action list comes together appropriately to build and execute a convincing and interconnected campaign.
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