How to Run and Market an Event

Event MarketingLive events are a great way to promote your small business and get the word out about what you do. Offering helpful information to attendees shows that your an expert in your field and builds your credibility. Whether you host an online event such as a webinar or an offline seminar or workshop, you’ve got several choices for tools that make event planning and marketing a breeze.

The two biggest event marketing tools in the industry are EventSpot by Constant Contact and EventBrite. With both of these tools, you have the ability to create a custom web page for your event that you can link to your current website or use as a stand alone landing page. You can take online registrations, charge for tickets, send emails about the event, promote through social media and track attendees. Both systems have apps for your smart phone and tablets to check in attendees at the event, scan tickets and charge at the door. 

The main difference between the two is how they charge for the service. EventSpot starts at $20 a month for one event per month, $25 a month for 2 to 5 events per month and goes up from there. There’s no long term commitment and it can be cancelled any time. You can sign up for one month, run your event and cancel. One of most cost effective features of this tool is there is no per registrant fee. You are responsible for the credit card processing fee depending on what system you decide to use.

EventBrite is free upfront and doesn’t have a monthly charge. It remains free as long as you don’t charge for tickets. When you are charging a registration fee, there is a 2.5% + $.99 service fee for every registrant + a 3% credit card processing fee. You can use PayPal, Google Checkout, or and replace their 3% credit card fee with what you pay within your personal arrangement with any of those processors.

As a Constant Contact Authorized Solution Provider, I’m a little partial to EventSpot, but EventBrite may make sense for your small business too. Just be sure and consider what you expect your attendance to be, as you’re picking a tool. While EventBrite has no upfront charge to get started, depending on how successful your event is can greatly impact how much this system is going to end up costing you. EventSpot does have an upfront fee, but it’s a fixed cost and that’s all you’re going to pay.

So you have you’re event management tool in place. You’ve created your web page with all your event information. Now what? Think about sending a series of emails starting 4 to 6 weeks before the event. Make each one a little different to appeal to different themes you’ll be covering at the event and different types of attendees. Be sure an include a share feature in your email so recipients can forward it to an interested friend.

Promote your event through social media. In our first blog post in this series on event marketing, I discussed the use of hashtags with your event. Create a hashtag and set up how you are going to monitor the posts. Then start talking about your event. Again, just like with email, start about 4 weeks before the event. Get more frequent with your posts as the date approaches. Think about offering a special discount to certain followers with limited time frames to use them. Pay attention to what your social communities are saying in their posts about your event through the hashtag stream you set up.

Another option is running a short Pay Per Click campaign. You can run text and banner ads to specific demographics in targeted geographic areas. There are distinct advantages to using the different pay per click programs:

  • Google Adwords – Target potential attendees with keywords related to your event. Use geographic targeting down to individual zip codes. Connect to your Google+ and Google Places accounts.
  • Bing Advertising – Target potential attendees with keywords related to your event. Use geographic targeting down to individual zip codes.
  • Facebook – Target types of people, groups they belong to and companies they are associated with.
  • LinkedIn – Target industries, size of company, job positions, number of employees, geographic area, name of company and groups.

Now that you have people registered for your event, don’t let them forget about it. Create a series of reminder emails with one the week before the event and one the night before the event.

In the last of my event marketing series posts, I’ll be covering after the event marketing. What’s been your most successful form of advertising for your events? Share your experiences with us.

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