True or false? Marketing is most efficient in the social space. If you answered True, you’re busted! In this week’s blog post, Kevin Shanley cuts through the four common pre-event marketing myths that are actually hindering event attendance.

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Whether it’s an industry conference or a birthday party, we can all relate to the fear of having no one show up to an event you’re hosting. Taking the time to devise a strategic marketing plan for your event will help avoid common pitfalls while generating maximum buzz, awareness and attendance. Below, I’ve busted some popular myths that can hinder successful pre-event marketing.

The Myth: Social Media is the Only Place to Be

Current studies show that nearly 67% of U.S. Internet users are on at least one social network. With new social platforms and applications popping up every day, planners are missing out if they don’t go all-in with a heavy pre-promotion social media blitz.myth2The Truth: You Need to Do Your Research

The flip side of the above stat is that 33% of Internet users are NOT on social media, this amounts to more than 165 million users! As you’re planning, take the time to really understand the characteristics of the people you are hoping to attract. Where do they get their information – through trade magazines or industry-specific websites? Through professional newsletters or regional broadcast news programs? (fragment?) Once you determine where your target is, tailor your pre-event marketing materials to these specific areas. Simply put, if your audience isn’t on social media – don’t go all in on social marketing, it’s the equivalent of giving a lecture to an empty auditorium.

The Myth: It’s All About You

Many organizations use meetings, events and conferences to engage in one-way dialogue and advance their own agenda. This one-way dialogue manifests in pre-event marketing through a variety of ways, including: overtly branded content, automatic opt-ins to receive future communication and lack of personalized contact information for any questions or comments.

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The Truth: It’s All About Them

Smart planners know their job is to create a seamless experience for attendees, and the best way to do that, is to make it all about them, especially in the pre-event marketing materials. The average person sees nearly 250 ads a day and usually fails to remember even half of them. Yes, we all can name some off-the-cuff ad that we saw once that really stuck in our brain but the truth of the matter is, these campaigns and ads are memorable for the schtick but the brand associations are thin. Instead, strive to clearly communicate the benefit to potential attendees with a clean and simple design.

The Myth: You Should Market on Your Own

When hosting events, many companies are reluctant to share the spotlight. They require exclusive control over pre-event marketing by limiting those that may reach out to media contacts, what messages can be shared on social networks and how materials should look. Listen, no one understands better than me the importance of ensuring key messages are being promoted pre-event but working solo limits capabilities and returns stifled attendance numbers.

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The Truth: Partnerships Are the Best Way to Broaden Media Horizons

You always get further in life with teamwork – take this approach by leveraging your strategic partnerships to help spread the word of your event. Whether you’re a small company or a global conglomerate, a primary goal of every hosted event is to create new connections and expand your reach. The easiest (and smartest!) way to do this is to hitch up to your partners’ audiences. This can be done very simply by asking sponsors to share an e-mail blast to their networks about their presence at your upcoming event, through cross promoting the event on social media or setting up a meeting between multiple public relations teams to maximize media opportunities. Additionally, leverage your speakers! Allowing those that will be featured at the conference to promote their participation raises your event’s profile, reputation and attendance from the speaker’s built-in audiences.

The Myth: Attendees Only Want to Hear From You During the Event

One of the biggest missteps I see made is lack continued communication with your event attendees. Old school marketing ideals center on a linear three-stage marketing communication – pre-promotion, event-communication and event wrap up. If you haven’t already, kick this antiquated method to the curb! Nowadays, consumers are increasingly looking for ongoing engagement with companies.

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The Truth: Consistent Communication is Key to Marketing (and Attendance!)

Simply put, everyone you connect with is a potential event attendee. Keep in mind that pre-event marketing does not begin with the registration process, it happens through every communication and interaction year-round. Companies should develop a consistent cycle of valuable and relevant content communications with audiences. Positioning useful content and keeping potential attendees informed throughout the year undoubtedly makes the registration process easier. If this is a new concept, Connection Model.com has put together the above image to illustrate a suggested method for the lifecycle of Marketing to Customers.

That being said, exercise some caution, I cannot overemphasize that when you’re communicating, be sure you have something valuable to say to your audience, no one likes a spammer and there’s no easier way to turn off potential event attendees than by oversaturating their inbox with overtly promotional material.

Your Turn: What are some common marketing myths that you’ve busted when promoting an event?