Event marketing can be a effective strategy for small businesses that want to connect in person with their customers. So many businesses are building strong customer relationships online, but if you’re looking to cultivate that relationship in a memorable way, events can pack a powerful punch.
Autumn marks the high season for events, from conferences and trade shows, to webinars and private shopping parties. With so much going on, it can be challenging to break through the noise and capture the attention of your target audience. Still, customer events, when geared towards education and appreciation, can pay off in terms of strengthening your ties to existing customers while uncovering new ones.
To help you make the most of your event marketing efforts, here are a few high-yield, low-cost tactics to consider.
As there are many ways to approach event marketing, we’ve categorized the recommendations into the following three areas: industry events, Web events and in-store events. Within each category are marketing best practices to be conducted before, during and after the event.
Before: Build buzz ahead of time using e-mail and social media marketing. Consider developing special newsletters dedicated to the event and spotlighting key presenters, exciting news and presentations. Be sure your content addresses the entire event, not just your participation in it.
During: Use mobile check-in technology to eliminate snaking registration lines. Mobile check-in also allows you to connect with attendees during the event to let them know of breaking news, schedule changes and other show activities. Remember to make this an option for your attendees, as opposed to texting them without their consent.
After: Send personalized follow-up notes based on your one-on-one conversations and the sessions participants attended. In your message, include a relevant offer, as well as information related to their specific interests.
Before: Focus on existing customers and invite them to participate in an event where they will gain knowledge or a new skill.
Much like an industry event, you’ll want to promote the Web session using e-mail, newsletters, blogs, Twitter and your Facebook Business Page.
As part of the preparation, consider using presentation tools that allow you to connect with your audience via video, slide sharing and instant messaging. You may also want to provide registered attendees with the option to receive text message reminders about the event.
During: Encourage dialog among participants and be sure to record the event and make it available on your website.
After: Use the questions and discussion points as fodder for your next newsletter, webinar or blog post.
Before: Host an invitation-only event for your VIP customers. To heighten their interest in attending, allow them to share the invitation with a friend and let them know the event will be closed to the public.
If possible, review their recent purchases and make notes on their areas of interest based on feedback from your social and e-mail marketing efforts.
During: Use the information about their past purchases and recent activities as the foundation to engage them in conversations and learn how you can improve the customer experience.
Also, when you make new connections, ask permission to keep in touch via customers’ preferred choice of communication, which is likely to be e-mail or social media.
After: Customize your thank you notes and include a great offer that can be shared.
When you combine technology with best practices in small-business marketing, you will take the spotlight during the upcoming event season.
Read more about maximizing conferences and trade shows.
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