Whether your event is a one-time affair or a repeat performance that recurs like clockwork, attendance is almost always a top priority to a planner. Best practices for driving attendance dictate a healthy mix of utilizing what works (traditional attendee acquisition strategies), while testing new tools and techniques.

In today’s day and age: direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, social media and public relations are all pieces of the marketing pie. And, while we deal with social media quite a bit in our day-to-day lives, it’s important to remember that there is still a large segment of people that do not regularly interact with these platforms. Therefore, off-line marketing tactics are more crucial than ever to reach these potential attendees.

The Medium Is the Message

messageEverything and nothing has changed since communication philosopher and theorist Marshall McLuhan famously expounded on the relationship between what we say and how we say it. “The medium is the message,” dictates that the medium used to market your meeting will influence how your message is perceived.

For example high tech conferences use the latest gadgets and technology because those tools appeal to their target attendee audience. But for a crowd of a different generation, a slick mailer with concise features and benefits may have more impact—especially if the piece answers the age-old question “What’s in it for me?”

When marketing your event, each point of contact should remind prospective attendees how attending will improve their lives in very specific ways and what knowledge they can bring back to share with colleagues and associates.

Stay Out of the Trash


If you are one of the 65 percent of people who open their mail over the trash can, then you know just how long you have to make an impression before a piece is chucked out with the red-dot-sale circulars. Surprisingly, odds are planners will have better success using this traditional medium vs. email. And, with many company’s opting out of this option due to rising postage costs, the report states, those that continue to employ this tactic have an increased chance of their mailing standing out to the consumer.


The Marketing Pie:

 marketing pie

Of course, in today’s wired world it is a fact that traditional, channel-specific campaigns will minimize your reach.  The way to best-engage prospects is through multichannel marketing that enhances the customer experience with your brand, according to advisory firm Gartner.

Convene columnist David Lutz reminds us that each media channel we utilize comes with its own set of subliminal perceptions from potential attendees. Here’s a quick breakdown of how each method is perceived:

  • Owned Channels (i.e. websites, RSS Feeds, newsletters) – often perused by ready converts and those looking to actively engage with the company
  • Paid media (i.e. advertising,) – can be reviled as spam. The success of paid media usually relies on a solid strategy and memorable ads
  • Earned media (i.e. social media platforms, community forums etc.) – organic discussions that can become a platform for marketing evangelists.

One thing that’s true across all categories: marketers that send personalized, targeted messages through all three channels are most likely to not only recruit attendees but also rev up the brand advocates.

Sounds expensive, right? Well, you get out what you put in. Here’s final thought: There’s a direct correlation between marketing budget and attendance growth. According to Frost Miller Group’s AttendTrends report, organizations that increased their marketing budgets grew attendance by 64 percent, while 68 percent of those who decreased their budgets lost attendees.

How are you using offline marketing tactics to make your event stand out? In your current marketing mix – what role do offline and online efforts play in driving attendance?