Event Marketing Strategies Your Business Can Use
Has small business marketing really changed much over the years? No matter what new terms we use to describe the specifics of advertising – “brand awareness,” “creating impressions,” “lead conversions,” etc. – ultimately, it’s pretty much the same as it has always been. Marketing is today and always has been predicated upon the concept of convincing your customers that your product or service is unique, beneficial, and offers good value.
But, the fact of the matter is that small business marketing can be:
- Competitive – There are a lot of companies offering something similar.
- Homogenous – Everybody seems to be doing the same things: social media, email, website optimization, etc.
- Cold – Most companies rely upon standard techniques that remain distant from their customers: search advertising, coupons, direct mail, etc.
Event marketing is one avenue of escape from the mundane.
Consider the fact that promotional events are the only way to connect face-to-face with your customers in an environment that is loose, lively, friendly, and open to the exchange of ideas. It provides the one avenue whereby your clients have an opportunity to sense your commitment to your livelihood. How often we have all said to ourselves, “If I could just speak directly to them, I know I could convince them.”
Direct Benefits of Event Marketing
Besides the direct contact that events provide, they also can:
- Enable suspension of the buyer/seller relationship. Your customers see you as someone just like them.
- Allow hands-on contact with products that no website or alternative advertising can provide.
- Dispel myths about your product or service.
- Provide a test market with immediate feedback.
- Enhance your company’s image as a community supporter and goodwill ambassador.
Event Marketing Tips
Experienced event promoters have learned the hard way there are certain elements to avoid and others that are essential if you expect your event to produce a positive return on investment:
- Don’t expect to generate immediate financial gains. Look at an event as a long-term way to create a positive image of your company.
- Develop an event that is directly associated with your company’s core purpose. Hiring a heavy metal band to promote a new line of wheelchairs would likely be counter-productive.
- Everyone likes contests. Those that attract children can be especially advantageous, as parents are always looking for ways to entertain them. If you are a photographer, consider a young models shoot. If your business is catering, try a mac and cheese-eating contest.
- Don’t make data collection mandatory. Induce people to leave names and email addresses by filling out a form for a free drawing. You will get a better response and the information will be accurate.
- Being creative and different will get people talking about the event. Consider a variation of truth or dare, for example. A 3D video display in your store is a sure fire event magnet. Offer a freebie for any honest criticism – you will be amazed at what you will learn about your customers’ perceptions.
- Connect your company with a charitable organization that will benefit from the proceeds.
- Cap participation or attendance. This creates a sense of urgency and gives you a firm handle on what to expect.
The No. 1 mistake organizations make with events is poor preparation. Before scheduling any event, from a simple Christmas party to a complex multi-company sponsored marathon, be certain that the goals match the effort. Enlist the input of all company members. Be specific about which product or service you want to promote and always focus on quality over quantity. Most of all, especially if this is the first time your company has decided to produce a new event, allow plenty of time between making the decision to proceed and staging the actual event.