When you put on an event, how do you make sure people show up? These days it's not enough to simply send a message to your mailing list. Here are some ideas for driving event attendance that go beyond the traditional.
Make it valuable
All the demand generation tips in the world won't do anything unless the event is compelling. Have good, informational content and consider bringing in guest speakers with industry/business expertise. Worried about resources? One powerful event is far more valuable than ten "okay" seminars. Put quality over quantity when you consider your event plan.
Create a demand generation plan
Before you even create the event, consider your demand generation efforts. You need to use multiple touches via multiple vehicles to get the audience you want. Give yourself enough time to market the event. Allow eight weeks for a live event and six weeks for a webinar.
Make registration simple
Don't ask for too much information. Include the RSVP process in your demand generation plan. Make sure you confirm attendance and expect a 30% no show.
Use the local media
If you're driving a larger event to a more “horizontal” market, consider your local business publication. Most will have some type of event calendar where you can place your event.
Work with industry associations that target the same audience. Consider opportunities from “paid for” listings to stories on their websites. See if they'll “sponsor” the event. Their names add credibility and with the right event, you're bringing value to their markets. Offer them the opportunity to sign up people at the event or to send people more info afterward.
Use your auto signature
Create a strong auto signature. Include the value prop for attending the event and distribute it to everyone in your firm for their use.
Use your website
Specifically, your home page. If the event is not important enough for you to feature on your home page and have its own landing page, it's probably not important enough to attend.
Use your blog and social networks
Blogs and other social media are a great way to build excitement for an event. Provide some tips or information that you'll share at the event as teasers. Using an expert speaker? Have the person guest blog for a post or two on the topics that will be discussed and feed those posts to your landing page.
Business card or postcard invites
Create business card or postcard size invites that you and your employees can leave behind with prospects, distribute at shows, tuck into mailings, etc.
Join forces with your business networks
Your accountant, lawyer or other business partners can help you drive events. Ask them to include your event in their newsletters or other client communications and provide them with invites too.
Don't forget the reminders
Remind people via voicemail and email a few days before (and the day of in the case of webinars) to help decrease drop-off rates. Keep your expectations reasonable. Depending on the location of your event, your drop-off rates could be as high as 60%.