While a business event can be a fun and relaxing experience for participants, it can be the exact opposite for organizers. If an event is going to be successful, a variety of factors must come together without a hitch— including catering, decorations, venue, schedule, and attendees. Even if you have the first four factors ready to go, the event will be a failure without a sizeable crowd. After all, you are organizing an event to attract people.
And trust us, you want your event to go well. Local marketing events can either be a great way to attract new, highly engaged customers or be a tremendous waste of money.
In this article, we offer 10 tried-and-true ways to gather a crowd for your business event.
1. Market the Location
The venue is more than just the area where you plan to host the office function. It is also a powerful marketing tool that can help attract a crowd. To start, you’ll want to choose a location that’s suitable for the type of event you are hosting. For example, an outdoor location or restaurant might work well for a casual team outing, while a banquet room or hotel space would be better for a formal conference.
Select a location big enough to accommodate your ideal number of guests and then some. Then, decorate it in conjunction with the event’s theme and make the place as comfortable and visually pleasant as you can. Finally, snap photos of the venue, and market the images on both social and traditional media. Pictures say a thousand words so market those that scream “fun,” “comfort,” and “good time.”
2. Offer Post-Event Activities
As you promote your primary activities, don’t forget about post-event opportunities. For instance, you could have a round table event where participants and speakers can discuss specific topics while enjoying a cup of coffee and some pastries. It can also be an after party hosted by one of your sponsors where participants and VIP guests can interact with each other in a less formal setting. Post-event activities add more value to your event and encourage clients to learn more about your company or purchase whatever it is you are offering.
3. Advertise on Your Website
Leverage your website as a marketing channel. Promote press releases, blog posts, and banner ads that will increase event awareness. In addition, allow event attendees to register and learn more about your event on your website. The best marketers include an online registration page and shower the website with calls-to-action. To motivate your audience, you can give incentives, promotions, or discounts to those who will confirm their attendance online. The process not only advertises your event, but it also helps you organize your guest in advance of the event.
4. Leverage Social Media
Marketing events on social media can lead to massive results if done right. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most commonly used social platforms to promote events according to report a from Amiando. On social media, you can advertise the event to your established audience for free and you have the option to expand your market by using paid advertisements.
Facebook and Twitter are great channels to contact individuals who may be interested in your event. Both platforms have powerful tools that expand your audience by targeting people based on location, demographics, and interests. For instance, if you are hosting an event to target your product to millennials, you can run Facebook ads in your city only to people betweens ages 18 and 35.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is excellent for targeting a particular industry. Use its filtering options to screen your audience according to location, demographics, industry, and even years of experience.
With paid ads, you can reach thousands of targeted people. Word of caution though: set spend limits so your expenses don’t exceed your event budget.
5. Promote on Traditional Media
While it’s fashionable nowadays to market on social media, there are still lots of eyes and ears locked on traditional media. Promote your event through the local paper by sending a press release to reporters. A reporter might be interested in covering your event at no cost. If budget permits, pay for short radio and TV ads.
Never assume that all of your prospects use social media. You could be missing out on a considerable chunk of your market if you overlook traditional media advertising.
6. Build a VIP List
Whatever your business event may be, it’s always a good idea to invite VIP guests. They are leaders, influential-figures, or personalities who can attract a crowd by simply gracing the event. If your VIP guests have star power, you can even market their names on your promotional materials. More important, they have their own following which you can leverage by asking VIPs to inform their network that they are attending your event.
7. Offer Discounted Rates for Sponsors and Partners
Connecting with possible partners and sponsors is key to advertising your business event and pulling a crowd. Other organizations have their own market share which you can leverage and convert as your extended audience. In exchange for sponsoring or marketing your event, you can offer discounted rates to a partner or sponsor’s audiences.
This type of arrangement is a win for all parties involved. Sponsors and other business partners benefit from exposure to your audience base. Awareness for their brand goes up plus their event representatives can take the opportunity to build relationships with your audience.
On your end, you get an extended audience at your event who are likely to sign up for your offer since your partners and sponsors have significant influence over their followers. You can highlight these organizations in your promotional materials to drum up more interest.
8. Announce Discounts for Early Registrants
Event marketers use this method to entice prospects and build guest lists. For this to work, you must offer considerable discounts or interesting giveaways to customers who register early. People love the idea of snagging a great deal. Leverage this consumer habit to add more names to your list while marketing your brand and promoting your products.
9. Create the Illusion of Scarcity
You want as many people as possible to attend your business event, and ironically, one of the best ways to accomplish this is by creating a feeling of scarcity. Offer discounts for early registrants, and reduce the number of slots or tickets available after the initial early bird period. This creates the impression that demand for your event was so high that only a limited number of slots are available after early registration. Late comers will be motivated to sign up as soon as possible, and you will have more control over organizing your guest list.
10. Consider Hiring Groupies
People have the tendency to check out an event if they see an attentive crowd. However, GetEntrepreneurial writes that most people will only stay for about 30 seconds to see whether the event is interesting or not. If the number of confirmed attendees is significantly lower than your target, think about hiring groupies to show up at the venue ahead of time. Get them to exude enthusiasm for the event, greet passersby, and invite them to join. It may not be the ideal situation, but this tactic serves as your last hurrah for a successful event.
Leveraging online and traditional media, partnering with VIPs and other companies, and creating a sense of scarcity are tried and tested methods to fill up seats and gather a crowd for your business event. Follow these tips for your next event, and watch registration numbers soar.