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event marketing ideas small business

Often small businesses tend to focus their marketing efforts on the digital world, with their website, SEO, and social media taking center stage. Due to the expenditure, live events are often overlooked.

However, successful businesses are built on strong relationships, from internal dynamics and employees to external connections with clients, suppliers, and prospects. And despite growth in online communities and technologies, face-to-face remains the most effective marketing tactic.

In fact, according to a 2018 events trends study, most senior-level marketers agreed that live events are the single-most effective marketing channel, defeating content marketing, email, social media, paid, and search.

Event Marketing Examples and How to Get Started

Although these strategies are important, digital channels are becoming over-saturated, and audiences are now looking for tangible experiences made possible by events.

What are the best event marketing ideas to work with?

Events come in all shapes and sizes and choosing the right event idea can be difficult. There are two different forms of events: third-party and self-hosted events.

Third party events

These events are hosted by a third-party company or organization who will offer brands a chance to rent space, take a stand, or sponsor all or part of the event. Third-party events include conferences, exhibitions, and trade shows.

Advantages

Credibility – As third-party events tend to have an overall theme, they attract key figures from similar industries. By participating in relevant third-party events, you will position yourself as a key figure, helping to strengthen your reputation.

Awareness – By participating in third-party events, you’re bringing your products or services to your target market, increasing visibility and brand awareness.

Sale leads – As attendees are interested in the overarching theme of the event, they are more likely to be a potential customer and purchase from your brand.

Research – Third-party events provide an effective platform to launch or test a new product and gather opinions from like-minded people. They also offer a chance to learn about the industry and keep tabs on competitors.

Self-hosted events

These are corporate events that you host and are responsible for organizing and managing. Depending on your business and target market, this could range from a promotional marketing tour to a hosted dinner for VIP customers or a training day for delegates.

Advantages

Effective – Self-hosted events are more effective than third-party events in terms of generating revenue, as attendees are aware of your brand and products or services.

Full control – As you know your invitees, you have full control over the event and will be able to touch base with attendees before, during, and after the event.

Sales – As well as targeting your existing customer base, customers will be able to bring new prospects to the event, who will be more likely to convert and make a purchase.

How to market a successful event

Whether you decide on a third-party or self-hosted event, you will need to market your event to ensure a successful turnout.

1. List your benchmark goals

Your end business goal may be to increase sales and revenue, but you must be aware of your benchmark goals too. Benchmark goals are specific and tailored to each event, and are used to measure your event's success. Benchmark goals must be moderately attainable and should align with your overall business goals and objectives.

A benchmark goal may be to:

  • Develop one B2B relationship
  • Grow brand recognition in X location
  • Increase sales of X product by 15%

Whatever the goal, you must outline how these goals can be measured. It's essential you list your benchmark goals with metrics and share with all parties involved to measure the event's success.

2. Determine the type of event

Only once you've outlined your goals can you decide what type of event to hold, as you will be able to determine what event will help you achieve your benchmark goals.

For example: if your goal is to develop one B2B relationship, you may consider participating in a third-party trade show. However, these event types are more likely to attract junior roles. A more suited event would be a self-hosted black-tie dinner event where you can have one-to-one conversations with stakeholders.

3. Create your event marketing plan

Once you have determined what events will help achieve your goals, it's time to create your event marketing plan. First, consider your overall budget. Be realistic as your budget must cover costs such as venue, location, event structure, service fees, staffing, and marketing. Always include a little bit of scope, should it be required.

Keeping the budget in mind, create an event calendar to help you plan the event and coordinate the days, weeks, and months in advance. The calendar will help you keep on track and should include any submission deadlines and any event promotions.

4. Consider event technology

Event technology can make managing, measuring and growing your event easier. Event technology allows you to easily manage ticketing, sales tracking, third-party tools integration, and email marketing.

There are many powerful event software options available, affordable for even the smallest of budgets. Eventbrite is a budget-friendly management tool tailored to all types of organizations, including non-profits and start-ups.

5. Always debrief

Once it’s over, you must reflect on each event with all staff involved. By discussing successes and failures, you can improve your event strategy moving forward. Using event management software will make the process streamlined and simplified.

Consider other places where you can get data, such as social media and search analytics or media and press coverage. Also, consider using attendee satisfaction ratings and surveys.

Dawn-Ellis200Dawn Ellis is Digital Marketing Manager at The Events Structure, a single source provider of temporary event structures and mobile display solutions (exhibition trailers, roadshow trucks, mobile promotion vehicles, converted shipping containers, and mobile showrooms). Their diverse range of clients worldwide includes Mastercard, Amazon, Virgin, WKD, British Army and TomTom.

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