Pre-event marketing, explained.

Pre-event marketing is all about two things: boosting registration, and creating real, organic interest in the event. 

But in this ever changing event world, we find ourselves asking — What’s really the best way to do this? And do emails still work? What about promotions? Also how are organizers innovating and getting creative to sell events right now? To answer these questions, we did a little research, and put together our favorite pre-event marketing strategies for planning your 2021/2022 events. 

Pre-event marketing explained, start with "why?"

Start with “Why?”

In a recent Forbes article about boosting event attendance, Cindy Lo of Red Velvet said, “More so than anything – go back to the basics and ask why someone should choose to attend your event. What are those needs? Address them!”

She went on to talk about how recruitment and networking are a huge draw for people. As well as addressing specific professional reasons people might attend, such as closing a deal, learning a skill, or getting new inspiration. 

When you know why people want to be at your event, you can create messages, activations, and swag that all make attendees say — “I need to be there.” 

If you’re wondering how to find that “Why” for your event, start with a brainstorm on your own. You know your audience best! Or send out surveys to past/potential attendees. Or post more on social media. The posts that people like most are things that will draw them to the event.

Pre-event marketing, explained: emails work -- good emails work even better!

Emails work — good emails work even better!

Emails work, there’s no doubt about that. They reach people immediately and encourage them to sign up. The real secret though, is that emails work even better when they are creative, sincere, and fun! 

In the same Forbes article mentioned above, Cindy Lo says about emails, “You really just need to email your contacts over and over — it feels like spam but it works. Incorporating humor that ties back to your company’s culture helps as well.”  

A well crafted email is where you can reach people on an emotional level. It’s an opportunity to talk about why your event is important to this moment, or to make a connection to current events and the state of your industry. Email is how you let people know that this event is for them.

Iconic Godfather scene GIF with caption "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"

Create promotions that people will actually want. 

Promotional offers are good, but the key to your event marketing is offering things that have real value to future attendees. Tote bags and stationary, while useful, just don’t pack much of a punch these days.

Consider promoting experiences instead, such as networking opportunities for signing up early. Or access to virtual one-on-one or networking sessions with speakers. The virtual world opens up a whole new world of promotions. Take our newly released Expo Theater for instance, you have the opportunity to connect your speakers and attendees live, right within your event. Virtual pre-event meet and greets, sign us up! 

For tangible promotions, think of certain items that people in your industry value, like equipment, specialized gear, or high quality gadgets that your attendees will all want on their desk. Also, don’t forget about a good discount on drinks or food at the event! 

Entry intro raffles or contests can be used for promotions as well, but it’s also good to guarantee that everyone who signs up early gets something. It’s just a nice thing to do!

Blue Ted Lasso promotion bus with large yellow "BELIVE" sign on the side

Do something for everyone. 

The Apple TV show Ted Lasso created two interactive marketing activations for the show’s new season. One was a set of stadium steps covered with Lasso’s mantra “Believe”, the other was a double decker bus with the same words printed on the side. 

In a way, this kind of marketing is almost an event before the actual event. Which does mean more work, and more money, but for big events, like trade shows, or product launches, these activations can have a real impact on the general public.

A well placed activation can make a connection with the people that you would have never reached. It’s let’s people know that your event has something to say. It’s also a great way to go viral! 

To emulate this concept, think of ways that people can sit, or relax, or maybe even a pop-up garden of some kind. It’s about creating a nice experience, just like your event!

Old Victorian themed book with magnifying glass laying on top of it

Try a super-creative event kit. 

Leading up to the premier of HBO’s Victorian themed series The Nevers, the show sent out leather wrapped boxes filled with tea, a maganifer, a floating lamp, tarot cards, and a full gin-themed cocktail station.

Event swag, or marketing kits, work best when you are giving people things that they didn’t know they needed. Things that make them want to tell everyone about what they just unboxed. Creative is good. Elaborate is better. Fun and quirky is best! 

To make it a more exclusive experience, reserve these marketing boxes for influencers and VIPs who will post and share their experience with a larger audience. Maybe even give them a designated hashtag to help spread the word.

For more about boosting engagement with swag and creative marketing, checkout our article: Boosting engagement for all kinds of events.

When in doubt, have some fun with it. 

However you market your event, the most important thing is to spark some joy in the process. Emails should have some humor mixed in to help get people intrigued. Promotions and activations can be functional, unexpected, and make people smile. In the end, pre-event marketing is all about fun, just like events!

September 27, 2021

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September 27, 2021

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