It’s here, that wonderful season known as fall. I say wonderful because the arrival of fall brings not only leaves and apple cider but the return of the greatest sport on earth: football. It’s the most fun you can have while freezing your tail off and, as a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, I’m thrilled it’s back. But that’s not to say I haven’t been involved in football since it ended six months ago. Great sports marketers employ blog posts, email campaigns, even personal outreach to keep fans engaged throughout the off-season.
The same approach should be followed in event marketing. Of course largest number of your attendees will register shortly before the event takes place, but what are you doing to keep that audience active and engaged during the period of time from registration to launch? Here are three tips:
Events should be unpredictable – and so should the way you market them. Finding ways to surprise your attendees – or your potential attendees – is one of the best ways to keep people on their toes in the weeks leading up to the event. Perhaps announce a secret guest speaker or a surprise performer for the awards dinner? Or maybe tease the fact there will be a small gift waiting for each attendee upon checking in at the hotel front desk? Or what about surprising a loyal fan with a free ticket to the event out of the blue? That one sounds like such fun that I’d like to do it right now. Congratulations to Sharon Mostyn, a Marketing Manager at MEDEX and an Eloqua fan. For being such a fervent Eloqua supporter and because it’s just fun to be able to surprise someone, we’re giving her a free ticket to attend Eloqua Experience 2010!
Attendees register for your event for many reasons: networking, training, general product information, new technology discoveries, etc. But since a majority of them will decide to attend almost six weeks before the event date, there is a very strong chance that additional information regarding the event will become available by the time the event arrives. Keep attendees engaged by sending small snippets of information in the time window between registration and launch. Additional keynotes, new track session topics, creative networking opportunities, and updated details on special events are just a few ways you can keep your attendees informed and make them feel involved during that off-season.
One of the primary benefits of attending an event is networking. But networking doesn’t have to wait to start until you’re on-site. In this era of socially savvy attendees, it’s beneficial to make pre-event introductions, allowing attendees to get connected ahead of time. Build a Twitter list of your attendees and distribute it in advance of your event. Create a hashtag for your event and contribute to it regularly in the weeks leading up to launch. Encourage attendees to download social apps that you’ll be utilizing on-site such as TweetDeck or foursquare. Ask them to participate in a Facebook contest for the chance to win a prize. Not only will attendees arrive at your event prepared but they’ll also be able to maximize their time on-site.
So while it’s important to continue to market your event to potential attendees via traditional channels and the occasional supremely cool video, don’t forget about those people who have already committed to your conference or meeting. What other ways do you know to engage your attendees in the off-season? And how about them Eagles?