Event Planning to Attract the Right Audience

Lisa Vitale Marketing MavenLisa Vitale Marketing Maven A recent study found that events are the most effective marketing method for generating demand. But have you ever had to deal with the challenges of putting together a successful event? The biggest problem: how do you get enough of the right people to attend? Nowadays, everyone’s calendar is so chock-full that your event is jockeying for position. The trick is getting those ‘right’ people to justify the time and cost of attending your event (even if it’s just opportunity cost). And as we all know, not all events are created equal…

Today, most buyers want to do the majority of their research online – they’re not interested in thinly veiled product pitches. Prospective attendees want to be educated and have their questions answered. They want to know what’s new and what the latest trends are. They want to know how your event is going to help them perform better or avoid risk. They’re may not be interested in entering the buying process until after the event.

So, how do you make sure that your event piques the interest of those “right” people? Communicating relevance and value to your target audience is key to generating first acceptance, and then attendance. In a world where the role of events has largely shifted from selling to educating, getting target-account decision-makers to attend your event begins with thoughtful research and planning.

Your first goal? To be the solution to your target market’s needs. Getting inside their heads to understand these challenges requires thorough research. A good place to start is by using social media to gauge trending topics and concerns. Once you’ve got an understanding of current issues, you can deploy a powerful tool – The Survey (yes, we do that!). Surveying target accounts will home in on the issues you’ve identified, testing their relevance.

And while you’re surveying, ask a few questions on ideas you have for event topics, content, and style. While content is absolutely key, you want to create a winning mix by factoring in logistical considerations. For example, is an offline event necessary or would an online webinar be more popular? Knowing who your target audience is and where they are in the buyer’s journey will help you decide which event style is appropriate. (Clearly, you’ll also have to consider what your goals and constraints are for the event.) Understanding the particular needs of your target accounts and tailoring your event’s content and logistics accordingly will help you ensure that your event is relevant and answers the central question: “What’s in it for me?” You’ll need that to turn “sign-ups” onto “turn-ups”!

For more on these ideas, as well as additional tips and insights on attracting target buyers, we invite you to read our new white paper, “5 Secrets to Planning a ‘Happening’ Event.” There you’ll learn about the following “secrets”:

* Secret 1: Do your research before deciding on the event and content

* Secret 2: Think about the marketing message while planning the event

* Secret 3: Don’t think of your event in isolation from your other marketing activities

* Secret 4: Act as if you were going to charge for attendance

* Secret 5: Make it fun!

The conclusion of the paper:

Selling an event is like selling any other service. Much of the success comes from solid planning about the very nature and purpose of the event, not just about the details of the event itself. Those are important on the day to make sure the event is well received. Butt first, you have to fill the seats!

A final thought, in thinking ahead to the next event – make sure this one is memorable! Get your event to stand out and then make sure it’s outstanding. Be sure your event leaves attendees with a great positive-association with your brand/company so that future events can be successful too.