Over the last few weeks we have been working with a few clients to dust off their live event marketing plans and it got me thinking about the mistakes that we all can make when bringing our conferences, tradeshows, and meetings to the masses. Here are ten that jumped out at me when we were brainstorming.
Not Having a Content Marketing Calendar
This one is actually the biggest mistake we see groups make so if you don’t have a content cal, don’t fret… Get to work. Having a plan is absolutely mission critical to your event marketing success. Without a plan, you are shooting arrows in the dark hoping to get a bullseye. I am a big fan of starting simple and one of the best primers is this podcast episode from Amy Porterfield titled “From Social Posts To Weekly Content: Create Your 3-Month Content Calendar Step-By-Step”.
Not Knowing Your Customer/Trying to be Everything to Everyone
Who is your customer? What makes the perfect attendee? Once you know, you can start to target the people that fall into that silo. For example, both my son and I love video games. I am 80s old school, he is 2021 hip with all of those fantabulous doohickeys all the kids use today…. We are two totally different markets that fall under a very big umbrella. Trying to market one event to both of us is going to crash and burn so ya gotta know what makes your event unique to your tribe… OH, and don’t guess. Work out some attendee personas so that you are speaking the right language to the right people.
Absence Or Poor Use Of Social Media
Common. Common. Common. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it makes attendees pull up stakes and find a new place to get their information. If you are not using social media, your competition is and they want your attendees and members for themselves. On the flip-side, if you are posting to the socials, you really need to know how to do it correctly. What do we mean by correctly. Take those attendee personas that you created and do some research. For example, it makes no sense to use Twitter if your attendees are all on Facebook. Start by reading this quick post about the basics on SproutSocial and then move on to Social Media Examiner to take a deeper dive on using social media to market your event.
Ignoring the Competition
If you have ever read the Art of War by Sun Tzu you will know that many of his thoughts translate very well to business. One of my favorites is “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles”. Boom. That is all that needs to be said on this one.
Targeting the Wrong Market
This one is not too common, but it does happen. Pay attention to who is responding to your marketing, who is liking your posts, who is sharing what you got. If you are a medical association and all of your posts are being commented on by electrical engineers, you might be targeting the wrong people. While this example is extreme, keep an eye on the subtle things as well. For example, if you are looking to reach nurses but are only seeing PAs and MDs, you might not have the right messaging.
NEVER ignore the data because if you don’t measure it, it didn’t happen. I met this week with the marketing manager for a small group and all they measure are post likes and email opens. While those are good things to note, they are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, likes and opens are just a vanity metric that make you feel good. You have to dive a little deeper to find out what actually matters, here is another good post from SproutSocial to get you started.
Sigh. I know times are tough all over but your marketing department needs to spend money on stuff. They need graphics, photos, content writers, and marketing tools like HootSuite, Buffer, and Photoshop. Not giving them the money they need is like asking a carpenter to build you a house with the crap from the Target tool section. A professional can do it, but you won’t want to live in it when she is done.
Overlooking Email Marketing
If you could only pick one marketing channel, pick email. It is far and away the biggest bang for the buck in marketing but you have to treat it with respect. Know your audience, make the emails count, and always leave them wanting more. Save the best stuff for the people that have (literally) invited you into their inbox. Wanna know how to do it? Hubspot has a great guide just waiting for you… All you have to do is sign up for their marketing emails (see how that works).
Not focusing on retaining attendees
So many groups focus on getting new attendees that they completely forget the people that made their events successful in the first place. Your content marketing plan should have different posts/ideas for new attendees and returning attendees because while their wants and needs may cross over, they can be very different.
Ignoring Attendee Feedback
If you ask (some) attendees will tell you what they liked and didn’t like about the last event… Don’t hide and don’t candy coat things. If everyone hated the venue, you best be talking up the new venue in your marketing. On the flip side, if everyone loved the keynote, figure out a way to get that person back. Side tip… If a keynote is well loved, I recommend bringing them back in a different capacity such as moderator, workshop facilitator, etc. Yeah, yeah,
So – Now What
Marketing your event is NOT simple but it is easier than many realize. Get a plan and get going. People who have seen me speak more than once know that I live by the motto “done is better than perfect” and in this case that means start and get better as you go. If you wait for everything to be just right, you will never get out the door.