by Will Rogers
So, you have an event coming up. Getting the most people you can to your event matters. My guess is, if you’re having an event, you have a lot to share with people. Events are a gateway to other great things you offer as well.
That said, an event can create energy around your brand and your mission. It can also provide an opportunity for your followers to connect and network.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years of hosting events, that have helped me be sure I’m checking off all of the boxes I need so I get the most people I can to attend an event.
Events can often seem like dating someone. Quickly, you start making a promise about what someone gets from your event. However, it’s important to point out the benefits attendees will get when they sign up, when they attend the event, and even after the event.
It’s vital to show how you’re going to deliver on whatever you promise. When you do this, it helps people feel like you’ve made a solid commitment to them—just as they have—or will—to you when they register.
This step is vital. Whether you're an author or leader of a community, a clever event title and great speakers may not get you the registrants as you might think. This step is all about what problem you’re solving with the attendees. If you clearly spell out what people get from your event, your followers or visitors will register because they trust you.
Here are just a few examples of what attendees might expect to learn or how they may be helped from attending your event:
Guided connections with experts
Refreshment in their career
Best practices and expert learnings
Connections with others like them. Your attendee doesn’t need to feel alone
Matched connections to exhibitors
Preparation and followup resources
Access to content after the event
You don’t have to feel like you need to offer every single one of these, but it's definitely worth thinking through what attendees will get from your event. Reiterate your promises throughout your marketing leading up to the event. Refer to these promises during your actual event. Then, ask or survey attendees about these promises after the event—to be sure they received what they thought they would receive.
Hosting and marketing an event is a great opportunity to engage your partners, exhibitors, speakers, and alumni to help promote the event. You just have to ask! Think about how you can make a promotion part of being a partner. Will you provide a set or kit of marketing messages for use on web, blog, email, and social media for your partners?
Consider making it easy to promote the event by creating resources to help people promote your event. Think of how your partners will be best at sharing. Will it be through PDFs, images, and so on? What platforms or channels are your people most familiar with? The last thing, you might consider partnering with some of the best groups who stand to bring new registrants and offer them a percentage for each attendee they bring. You can do this easily and track it by using a discount code at checkout. This could be the incentive some of your best partners need to move the need for promotion and registration.
This group is a bit different than the folks in #4. This group of people may be helpful, but they aren’t necessarily the folks who you’ll want to invest time in creating affiliate codes and such. However, don’t forget this group in your promotion of the next event. How well you activate this group may create a buzz and registrations that bring your event from dull to a success.
For this group of followers, be sure you ask them to share several posts on social media. Be direct. Give them the exact post and link if at all possible. People are busy, and to be honest, your event three months from now isn’t the priority for this group! : ) Ask them to share with their friends—via email and text where fitting. Ask these things several times if you have lots of room in the calendar before your next event. You might consider offering a free ticket if they can recruit five (5) attendees. Now, this assumes you’ve done well at staying in touch with these folks between events. Remember that word of mouth is most likely your greatest marketing tool—especially for events. And, you might net out more followers to your website after the event ends.
People are looking for a guide. It’s up to you to help attendees do some relational dot-connecting. Also, events can be intimidating. Show how you're going to make the event feel more personal. Will you have time for folks to connect and get to know each other before the event? During the event? After the event?
You can create relational dots in several ways. One big way is offering times of connection where you share stories of how your event has set others up for success. Also, for your speakers, event staff, keynote speakers, and breakout session speakers—be sure attendees get their stories in front of them. Try and think beyond the bio. Why did you ask this particular person to speak? Mention that in marketing emails leading up to the event. This will serve you well in that—you’ll gain more registrants for folks who wish to connect—and—you’ll help the speakers be able to know their why.
These are just a few of the best ways I’ve found to help me feel confident, knowing I’ve done all I can to make an event and get the most attendees possible. If you do these things, you can rest easy knowing your event will be a success.
You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.
About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to a shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.