When planning an annual marketing strategy, businesses have plenty of options to choose from to share their message: digital ads, print ads, billboards, email campaigns, text campaigns, videos, etc. But what about events? Is event marketing effective? Is it worth it? Should small businesses even consider it?
Let’s backtrack for a second. The essence of marketing is communication. It is the ability to share a message effectively to the right people, at the right moment. With a live event, a business is able to convey a clear message, all while connecting directly with its audience and establishing a real, in-person relationship. The bottom line is: nothing has more impact than human interaction.
With that in mind, most marketers believe that event marketing is the single-most effective marketing channel for achieving business goals.
Seasoned event marketer, planner, and Co-Founder of LA based event planning company PopGroupLA, Dawn O’Leary, agrees: “Events can help businesses promote themselves, their mission, their products and/or services in a fun, engaging and memorable way. An event gives small or large organization alike a reason to tie-in public relations and social media campaigns that will ultimately increase visibility. Also, it gives an organization the opportunity to create relationships with its local business community.”
So, why might a business decide to host an event? O’Leary explains some key reasons:
• TO PROMOTE a product or service, which in turn increases sales.
• TO EDUCATE people via conferences, seminars, workshops or retreats, which creates awareness and increases customer loyalty.
• TO PROVIDE team building experiences for employees and ultimately boost performances.
• TO CELEBRATE a holiday, or other special corporate milestones such as a company anniversary, reaching a revenue goal or sales achievement, a retirement party, etc. This shows appreciation, lifts team spirit and promotes loyalty.
• TO RAISE funds or generate awareness and visibility for an organization.
The benefits of an event go beyond the event itself, as any content generated, such as pictures, speeches, testimonials, interviews, can all be repurposed as content marketing (share a newsletter about the event; use pictures and videos taken at the event on your social media platforms; update them to your website; write a blog about it; gather testimonials, etc).
Something else to consider is creating an event survey to gather feedback and data. This is a great way to keep in touch with your audience and to strengthen your customer service and public relation.
The ROI for events varies, with big-budget brands claiming to see a return of 5 times the initial investment for live events, while the majority of businesses estimate their return to be between 2 and 5 times the initial investment. Everyone agrees however on the fact that the lead generation, sales, and customer loyalty that derives from event marketing make it absolutely worth it.
Where to start?
As O’Leary puts it, the easiest and most efficient way to get started on your event marketing strategy is to look for an event planner. “When an organization has a small staff, it is beneficial to outsource event planning and marketing. That way, the organization’s staff is not stretched thin and can focus on its regular work. An event planning company can easily plan the event as they do it all the time, compared to a staff member who is occasionally tasked with the project. Plus, a good event planner can assist with marketing efforts ensuring a well-attended event. Overall, an event planner will bring expertise and insight to create a successful experience.”
Look for an event planner with a strong background in marketing and significant experience in business events. Share your goals clearly and express what you expect to gain from the event. Some event planning companies that focus on personal events such as weddings, anniversaries and baby showers, might put on a great party with extraordinary decorations, but might also completely miss the beat as far as reaching your business goals. Don’t be shy to ask for referrals and to share your concerns.
“While looking for an event planner,” continues O’Leary, “find one that listens to its clients. It is of the utmost importance to get a clear understanding of the client’s goals and objectives. A professional event planner will know how to exceed expectations while staying focused on the client’s mission. In addition, event planners should be respectful of their client’s event planning budget as it is vital to stay within that budget. Finally, hire an event planner that brings ample experience to the table with various types of events. ”
Ultimately, when you decide to add event marketing to your strategy, you open yourself to a real opportunity to build interest, generate leads, increase sales, and promote customer loyalty. In addition to all that, you give yourself the gift of tons of content ready to be repurposed. It clearly is a winning strategy.
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