In this blog, we provide insights on how to market an event. A well-planned association marketing strategy is crucial for an event’s success. Every event presents an opportunity to reinforce the association’s mission and value proposition in order to retain current members and recruit new ones.
With the proliferation of online content, people have access to all types of information that used to be available only through association membership and industry conferences. As a result, today’s events must be exceptional to attract industry professionals and make advertisements more compelling.
The following event marketing tips and strategies will help you reach the right audience and get the word out to expand your reach.
These days, events aren’t always in-person. Virtual conferences became the new normal during the pandemic, and they aren’t going anywhere. As Maddie Grant put it, “Being forced to quickly learn how to run a virtual conference…was an acceleration of an irreversible trend that has been happening for a long time that we call digital transformation” (Associations Evolve: 2022).
In this section, we provide tips on how to advertise an event, whether it’s in-person or online.
When should you start promoting an event? The answer to this question is debatable. Some say as little as 45 days out, while others recommend local event marketing months ahead of time. For annual events, you should begin conference and event marketing a year in advance.
Event tip: Give this year’s attendees an exclusive rate if they register for next year’s event by a specific deadline. The deadline shouldn’t be long after this year’s event to keep the momentum going.
As the adage goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. While social media marketing is a great way to promote your event, it’s important to have a diversified association marketing strategy. Invest in a mixture of online and offline channels (e.g., email, radio) to get the most out of your association's marketing endeavors.
Event tip: The best marketing channel(s) ultimately depends on your audience, so do your research to determine where to spend your marketing budget.
Encourage attendees to review your event by sending an email campaign targeting participants. Request feedback and an option to write a testimonial. (Make sure you get permission to share their testimonial publicly.) Additionally, try to get their name, professional title, and company for further social proof.
Event tip: Use these quotes in your conference and event marketing communications to convey the value of your event from the perspective of attendees.
When it comes to pricing your event, take advantage of pricing psychology. A price ending in a “7” or “9” will appeal more to your audience. For instance, a virtual conference priced at $997 will produce a better response than if it costs $1,000, even though there’s only a $3 difference.
Event tip: If this year’s conference is more expensive than last year’s, don’t justify it. We’ve conducted research that shows associations that raised dues without an explanation were more likely to see membership grow than those who presented reasons for the increase.
Create a landing page on your website for the event where you can drive traffic. On this page, tell readers what the conference is about, what they’ll learn, what’s included, who will be there, who’s sponsoring it, where it’s at, pricing details, and a contact form for questions. Also, include guest speaker pictures with bios that communicate their credentials and experience.
We understand that website pop-ups can be annoying, especially if there’s no obvious way to close them. However, a well-designed promotional pop-up can boost your conversion rate, which outweighs the cons. Placing a pop-up on your website intentionally (and immediately) notifies visitors about your event instead of accidentally coming across it on your site. Link your pop-up to the event’s landing page, where visitors can learn more and register.
Social media is a great place to start if you’re wondering how to advertise an event. Create a unique hashtag that’s short and easy to remember to gain traction across various social platforms. Use this hashtag on all posts promoting your event and encourage attendees and speakers to use it. Hashtags are clickable, allowing people to discover all related posts. Plus, it’s a great way to boost engagement and create a buzz before and during the event.
Most social media profiles have a banner image where you can show off a promotional graphic. Keep it simple: include the event name, dates, hashtag, and location (if applicable). If you have a short landing page URL, you can include that as well. Rebranding your social media profiles ensures that the event is front and center when someone visits your page.
Paid ads – such as those on Google and Facebook – can be used to increase awareness and attract more event registrations. Social media ads enable you to granularly target particular audiences, reserving your budget for the most qualified viewers. If your tracking infrastructure is set up correctly, you can retarget people who have seen your ads or visited your event landing page but haven’t purchased a ticket.
Your Association Marketing Professionals
What is association marketing? Association marketing is a combination of digital and direct marketing initiatives used to grow an organization’s membership base. At Marketing General Incorporated (MGI), we provide both services to membership organizations.
MGI uses digital marketing to maximize its membership marketing efforts across various channels. Our proprietary Intellilead® program uses respondent behavior to trigger communications that lead to closer engagement and conversion to membership.
MGI’s direct marketing programs use relevant marketing channels, deep list research, meaningful creative design, targeted messaging, and tempting offers. As a result, we build strong relationships between our clients, their members, and prospective members.