Advocacy Coach’s Corner: Event Marketing Season Is Here – Are You Ready?

Event marketing - crowd on a tradeshow floorYou probably have a big event coming up – or, if you’re like us, many large events. Leading up to these events, most marketers are obsessing over how they can capture more leads and get the most from their investment in event marketing, sponsorship, travel and swag.

What you should be asking yourself, however, is how can you make the experience even better for those who are attending through your event marketing, in addition to spreading the word, creating crazy buzz, and getting valuable insight and feedback from attendees?

Furthermore, have you considered how your event marketing can build closer ties with your customers, partners and employees, and have them advocate for you every step of the way – before, during and after the event?

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to be able to accomplish all of these things through traditional event marketing.

An advocate marketing campaign for your event, on the other hand, can add immeasurable value to any conference, user group, meetup or other gathering. Whether you are hosting, sponsoring or just attending, your advocates will make you shine and help you get a greater return on your investment.

Building a community of advocates for your event – or leveraging an existing advocate base in a new way – will give your the power to target specific activities at your attendees, gain valuable feedback and insight prior, during and after your event.

Check out some of these engaging activities you can encourage attendees to participate in:

How can advocates help…

Before the event?

  • Promote the event to their network through different social channels.
  • Sign up to speak at the event or lead breakout sessions and workshop.
  • Provide input. For example, ask them what they are most looking forward to at the event. Then, ask them to tweet their responses.
  • Send questions to speakers or panelists in advance.
  • Stimulate networking opportunities by introducing themselves to other attendees online first.
  • Promote last-minute discounts. For example: Bring a friend promotion.
  • Crowd-source ideas: What should the keynote speaker wear? What music should be played? Where should the networking reception be held?

During the event?

  • Spend time at your booth talking to other attendees about their experience with your product.
  • Post photos of their favorite moments, people and booths to social media.
  • Tweet about what they’re learning.
  • Participate in a scavenger hunt.
  • Provide in-person referrals and make introductions to people in their network.

After the event?

  • Share feedback on specific parts of the keynotes and track sessions.
  • Provide testimonials that can be used for next year’s events.
  • Share re-purposed content from the event (e.g., presentations, videos, blog posts, etc.).
  • Stay connected online or create local meet-up groups.

Recognize your top participants

Rewarding your top advocates will encourage all attendees to participate in these various activities. Here are some reward ideas:

  • Did your keynote speaker write a book? Offer signed copies to participants who finish the most activities, or who collect the most points.
  • Have a few event passes for next year’s event available.
  • Consider having some smaller value rewards as well, like gift cards and swag.

Everyone is motivated in different ways, so be sure to offer a variety of rewards. In addition, providing an engaging experience for attendees will make the event even more memorable and build long-lasting supporters for your company and future events.

How will you get your advocates involved in your event marketing efforts this year?