We all know the importance of effective marketing in advance of our events; setting objectives, targeting our audiences, raising awareness of the event and whetting potential attendees’ appetites with sneak previews and relevant information.
But what about during the event itself?
Working with several smaller charities and community groups this week has reminded me that there is much more we need to do at our events to support our longer term success, as well as make the events in question as effective as they can be.
First up, we need to consider that any event can help us to do the following as well as meet its own, immediate objectives:
- Raise awareness of what our organisations do
- Educate folks on the cause we represent
- Persuade people to get involved
- Drive donations directly
- Generate income through sales of goods and services
- Get them to come back, or to future events
- Share their experiences with their contacts and networks
- Capture data for our ongoing communications (like donor recruitment, campaigning etc)
How can we do it? I hear you cry… here are some of the most effective tactics the groups we work have used:
Physical sensory exposure
Turn your event into a multi-sensory experience by giving attendees things to touch, view, hear, smell and taste (where possible). Research has shown that our senses of smell and taste are very closely linked to the creation of the strongest memories. And the strongest memories drive our future actions so if we want return visits, repeat donors etc. we need to try and create these memories whilst attendees are with us.
Teach people something new
If our event can help someone to learn something they didn’t know previously or even better, help them engage in a new tactile skill, they are far more likely to reflect positively on the experience and, by association, us. Key to this approach working is ensuring that there is sufficient branding and links to your organisation to leave visitors in no doubt that it is you providing this awesome experience.
Run competitions that create memories
This is a double whammy for organisations as competitions not only engage an audience whilst at the event but they can also provide lots of relevant content for follow-up marketing activity. Think best photo from the day, favourite costume, best video submitted by attendees, even favourite recipes if your event involves food.
I’ve worked with a literacy charity that invited event attendees to work on and submit their own poems which they then turned into a free e-book sent to attendees to market future events and to encourage donations.
Make it easy to share
Enabling visitors to share photos on your social media sites and then onwards with their networks can be a great way to spread the message. Remind attendees that they can check out Instagram or Pinterest boards, for example. If your charity runs or is a visitor attraction, make sure your Tripadvisor profile is up to date and let visitors know that they can leave feedback (which you then share in your future marketing).
Take every opportunity to data capture
Even if your event is free, you can use tools like Eventbrite to control attendance and capture contact data which you can use for future campaigns. Create a virtual ‘visitor book’ that attendees can leave comments on (having provided their email or contact information to gain access).
You can invite competition entries, prize draws and feedback in exchange for contact information which gives people something in return for their details.
BUT – remember your Data Protection obligations.
Offer or at least wear relevant merchandising
Could your team where T-shirts with your latest campaign message on them or QR codes linking to your latest, relevant campaign? Could you sell them to attendees – think car stickers, mugs, recipe books, collections of beneficiary works of art etc?
What else do you do during events to maximise future marketing and campaigning potential?
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