Marketers believe in events.
We’re not just guessing here— the numbers are in. Maybe they’re expensive. Maybe their success can be a b*tch to measure. But in a recent poll by cvent, 31% of marketers listed events as their single most effective marketing channel, and 90% of them agree that events are a solid opportunity to make in-person connections when most interactions happen online.
Despite their revered status and observed effectiveness, not all events are created equal. In order to see real results, your brand’s gotta really be present— and that needs to start from the very first time attendees interact with your event.
Keeping all eyes on your brand and achieving an overarching positive brand perception stems from consistency in how you market your event from the get-go. And while the day itself may be all about in-person, the lead up happens online. So how do you make your brand the center of attention?
Start with a style guide
Designing materials can be one of the most fun parts of your event marketing, but if you don’t start with some rules it’s easy to end up with scattered pieces that don’t look or feel connected to each other.
When your marketing collateral isn’t consistent, it’s hard to pick up what the event’s vibe is— what kind of atmosphere it will be, what it will look like, who’s running it, what the tone is, etc. It can even make it difficult for attendees to understand that the materials they’re looking at are related to your event if they’ve experienced a totally different look and feel previously.
The best way to lay down the law is by creating— or having a graphic designer create— a style guide for your event. This guide will lay out all the rules for how to use colors, logos, etc, so any designer can pick it up and make consistent visuals. Even if you’re only using one designer, having a style guide can help them stay within their own boundaries and maintain the look they created throughout the event.
If you’re not sure where to start in developing your style guide, we created a step-by-step manual to help you get it off the ground.
Build a simple event site
Once you’ve made the rules, it’s time to party! ...If you consider making your event registration site “partying.” And hey, if building event sites isn’t so much fun for you….. haaaavvvveeeee you met Swoogo?
Event sites should follow the #1, universal design principle: simplicity. The easier your site is for potential registrants to navigate and understand, the more likely they are to make it all the way through to the purchase page.
That doesn’t mean your event site can’t be fun: it just means you need to be considerate of what to (and not) include within it.
Your event details should be front and center, and we usually recommend including them within your top banner on the initial landing page.
From there, it’s important to consider that your event agenda is your brand— and the reason anyone’s gonna hit “purchase” on tickets to your event. This should be your second tier of information, and should link out to speaker pages and speaker content.
You can also include your promotional blog content, videos from previous years events, testimonials from past participants— anything to help prospects get a better idea of what your event is going to be like, and why it’s worth attending.
The key is to make sure that your information is laid out in a way that’s easy to understand and prioritizes the most important details. While it’s a good idea to have a tagline and make sure your brand voice is consistent, it’s also a good idea to keep copy to a minimum so your site’s a quick read, especially for prospects who are gonna be accessing it from their phones.
Promote it on social
Having a dope landing page and consistent style is an excellent first step, but if a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it make a sound?
Ok ok that was a little tangential, but you get what we mean: your site can be as beautiful as you want, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not getting any eyeballs.
The best and most cost effective way to promote an event is through social media, and keeping your posts consistent with your style guide is a great way to extend your branding out into other channels.
This is also an important reason to create your event site using a tool that’s totally front-end responsive: 80% of our total time spent on social media is from our phones. That means prospects who hear about you on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook are most likely to click your link on mobile, and you want to make sure you have total control of how it looks and functions when they do.
Social promotion should, of course, start with posts from your own channels. But with great speakers come great speaker audiences: influencer marketing can be incredibly effective in promoting your event.
This should include asking your speakers and sponsors to promote your event on their social channels, as well as looking to influencer-attendees to give your posts a boost. Don’t forget— you probably have some influencers within your own organization. Make sure your CEO and directors are actively promoting your event on social, as they’re likely to have wide networks on at least one channel. Do some quick research on your team to see who has clout in the space, and get those people involved as well. These people all act as extensions of your brand, and you’ll be well served by seeing how far you can stretch.
You can also create branded communities for attendees to network before and after the event on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can bring in your own style and voice, and foster conversations through thought starters and attendee spotlights. Introducing this added-value is a great way to drive sales for your event, and makes an easy way for attendees to share your content with their networks.
What not to do? Ask all attendees to post that they’re going to your event using your hashtag. The truth is, few will be willing to upset the sanctity of their personal brand on social to promote your brand with mindless, canned tweets; and asking them to will ultimately just make you look out of touch.
Carry it through
Having an established style means your brand should remain clear, present, and consistent through every marketing touchpoint. That means branded and well-designed emails, written in your brand voice. Posters and decor tailored to your established colors and style. Handouts and giveaways that are consistent with your brand values and aesthetic.
The more familiar prospects and attendees become with your brand, the more likely it is to stick in their minds— and ultimately lead to a purchase. It will always be tough to measure event payoff as far as mindshare, but you’ll definitely notice the impact of your brand when the leads start rolling in.