Event Marketing 101

Recipe for Successful Event Turnout

Events and promotions are an integral part of how to attract prospects, deepen relationships and strengthen your reputation and brand. Like baking a cake, it takes a mixture of marketing ingredients to attract people to your events. And not just any people—the right people.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • A fun, enticing event
  • An up-to-date mailing list
  • A compelling, personalized invitation
  • Time-limited mass media
  • A friendly point person
1. Event Theme

Develop an appealing, interesting event theme with your audience in mind and plan it for a time when your prospects would be most apt to attend.

Tip: Remember that some folks don’t like to drive to new places. Offer transportation information, maps, and parking information.

2. Keep Your Lists Fresh

Old fashioned direct mail is still a GREAT way to reach your prospects and outperforms all digital channels, according to The DMA’s 2015 Response Rate Report. An accurate and targeted mailing list is the single most important ingredient to attracting the right audience. Whether you are purchasing a list or using in-house data, you’ll want to be sure to select criteria such as age, income or net worth, and geographic area. That said, supplementing your mailing with an email list can be an additional, low-cost touchpoint—especially for your caregiver audience—as a means for sending out an initial save-the-date email as well as follow-up emails spaced one week apart. Combining direct mail with a companion email campaign is even better!

Tip: If your mailing list has not recently been updated with the national change of address and deceased records, it is worthwhile to pay a professional mail house to do this for you. Also, make sure your mailing list is large enough to achieve your attendance goal. For individuals who do not have a relationship with you, anticipate a half to 1% response rate. That means if you want 50 people to attend your event, you’d want your mailing list to contain 5,000-10,000 households.

3. Keep it Friendly

The invitation should be, well, inviting! Seems like a no-brainer, right? The quality of the invitation communicates information about your brand. A creative message and imagery in the spirit of the event will grab people’s attention. Studies show that 20% of people base their decision to attend solely on the message, while 20% base it on the offer. (The other 60% of this formula lies in the quality of your mailing list.)

Copy should include all the information about the event, including what it is, where and what time it is, and how to RSVP. Personalizing the invitation with the individual’s name in the mailing address will be more effective than saying “resident of.”

Tip: Including an offer or hook on your mail and email invitation can be a great way to encourage attendance. Whether it’s a freebie or give-away, value-added service, or a guest speaker with a large fan base.

4. Get the Word Out

Use mass media to supplement your invitation to help build awareness of your event. To generate the highest number of respondents, a mix of email, social media, news releases, and paid advertising will provide the biggest impact. Staging these communications leading up to the event will ensure a better turnout and keep your event top-of-mind for attendees. Here’s the play-by-play:

a) Start building buzz from the inside out—through your own news outlets, such as your social media sites that link to your event webpage, newsletter and communications. Share information about the event and encourage residents and their families to spread the word to their friends. Start about six weeks prior to the event and keep the conversation going.

b) One month prior to the event, submit a calendar listing and news release to your local news media and submit again two weeks prior. It’s free and can typically be submitted on the newspaper’s website.

c) Place paid newspaper and radio advertisements up to one month prior to the event as a way to drive attendance. Targeted digital ads are also a great way to go.

Tip: When promoting events on social media, who are your fans and followers? Are they comprised of the people you are trying to attract to your event, or are they already affiliated with you? Craft your message accordingly. If your fan base does not include prospects, consider an investment in targeted social media ads.

4. Be Engaging

A friendly point person equipped with all the event information to answer the phones, respond to emails, and track RSVPs is an ingredient that can’t be skipped. This individual can provide a daily count of respondents and prompt additional marketing activities if needed to achieve attendance goals…such as follow-up mailings or emails, personalized phone calls, or additional news media coverage.

Tip: Remember to supply all of your phone operators and personnel with a copy of the invitation so they are well informed should they receive an inquiry.

While the right marketing mix may vary by geographic area, the basic recipe above includes the fundamentals behind filling the room for your event. Put these ingredients together for your next event and it will surely be a success!

To discuss marketing support for your specific needs, contact Red Purse Marketing.

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