Event marketing is a discipline that requires a fairly wide skill set. Events don’t tend to sell themselves and organisers have to put effort into proper marketing to get people through the door.
Organising events is a very demanding feat and it can be easy for many people to become overwhelmed by the logistics of the task. Booking venues, printing materials, hiring staff, negotiating insurance, securing council permissions, dealing with other businesses and more…
With so many tasks to deal with marketing can fall by the wayside.
We are here to help take some of the guesswork from the creation of your marketing campaign and help you organise this important element of making your event successful.
What is event marketing?
Event marketing is a combination of systems and actions that are all meant to lead to a single goal of generating more ticket sales or visitors to an event.
These can be both offline and online and can range from physically talking to people in the area local to the event to advertising with PPC campaigns on social media.
B2B or B2C?
Business-to-business (B2B) event marketing is appropriate for events like trade shows that are mostly focusing on developing relationships between businesses.
Business-to-customer (B2C) marketing focuses on the general public and the demographic groups most likely interested in the theme of the event. This would apply to anything ranging from a music festival to an art exhibition.
Both of these approaches can use some of the same advertising channels to generate results but will often use very different tone and emphasis.
Some advertising channels might be unique to each method. Advertising on LinkedIN will likely be most effective for B2B campaigns and distributing leaflets to privately owned residential homes will be appropriate for B2C.
Before we get into any of the specifics techniques or methodologies around event marketing the most important thing we can advise you is to start planning and executing your advertising campaign early.
As soon as you start planning your event, marketing should be a part of the conversation.
At The Private Postman we often deal with clients that come to us a few weeks before their event is to take place looking to start their leaflet drops.
This is almost always too late and suboptimal. Even for other less logistically demanding methods of advertising like Facebook ads you want your campaigns to be starting at least a few months before the start date of your event.
This is so that you can make small adjustments based on the data you get during your campaign. It also gives you a little bit of wiggle room in case of technical issues or unforeseen complications.
Most importantly if you are advertising in a busy place like London people will need time to plan their schedule if they want to attend your event.
There are some people that might be able to act with a couple days of notice but a considerable portion of your clientele will need to plan their visit much further ahead.
This is true whether we are talking about busy professionals, families with children, young people that might commute back home from a big city on the weekends or students with educational commitments.
All these people need some notice before they can commit to coming to your event.
Design and branding
The visual identity of your event will be something you should be focusing on from the start. This is in order for all your communication channels to align in message and visual signature.
Deciding on the colour scheme you will be using, the fonts and getting a recognisable logo designed is the first thing you should do as you start planning your marketing.
These elements will remain identical across media and platforms. When someone receives your leaflets and then visits your website or social media profile they need to see the same design identity.
Wherever possible hire professionals to do your design work. Many competent business owners and event organisers can use Photoshop and other similar programs to a decent standard.
However, graphics design is about much more than just being competent at using a piece of software. A good professional graphics designer will know how to select colour schemes and fonts to fit the theme of your event.
This is especially true when we talk about your logos and the creation of your leaflets, social media ads and your website.
Here are some good resources on this topic if you want to find out more
Many people will tell you that your website is no longer important. Your social media presence is all that matters.
This might be the case for some types of businesses but most certainly not for events.
Your website is very important as it can contain much more information than any social media profile.
If your target audience are other businesses they will need more information about the type of event you are running to justify allocating resources.
On the other hand if your target audience is the general public, information ranging from available parking, disabled access or detailed schedule of your event is very much appreciated.
Do not fall into the trap of oversimplifying your website and simply pointing people to your social media profiles. Your website can give you credibility and make it considerably easier for people to attend your event.
As we mentioned above, your website is very important. Your social media will be an important part of the equation as well.
Organic reach can be a challenge in most places and on most platforms. Especially if we talk about wanting to remain geographically specific. If you are organising a music festival in England, people from Japan liking your posts most likely won’t help.
Your options for organic reach will depend on the platforms in question and your niche. It is possible that your focus is so unique that cutting through the noise on Instagram with your photos is a possibility.
So why would you post on your social media profiles if you are not likely to reach many people organically.
When you run your social media ads, people will often visit your actual profile to find out more details and get a feel of what you are doing.
In order for your social media marketing to be effective you want to be regularly posting quality content for people to look at.
It is not important whether hundreds of thousands of people see it. What matters is that it shows that your event is real, that people are preparing for it and that there are real people behind it.
Anyone who’s seen your advertising should be able to see this in one look at your profile.
Your social media profiles might be able to communicate extra information to your potential visitors but more importantly they should help you build more legitimacy.
Social Media Ads
Advertising on social media is a necessity if you are running a B2C business or an event at this time. You can target your campaigns very carefully. You can run multiple campaigns at the same time and tweak them on the fly based on new data.
As there are so many options it is a good idea to have a look at the general demographics skew of each platform and pick the ones that are the most appropriate for you.
Facebook - has a great reach in the 40+ demographics. A surprising amount of people read longer text posts on Facebook.
Instagram - the demographics of 25-40 years of age are very strong on Instagram. If the theme of your event is in any way visual you need to be using Instagram.
LinkedIN - any events focusing on B2B will have to be using LinkedIN. This is both for standard posting as well as advertising. The reach to people within specific businesses and organisations is such that you can’t ignore it for any B2B effort.
TikTok - advertising on TikTok might require some specific nuance that is not present on the other platforms mentioned here but if you are looking to talk to an audience under 20 years of age TikTok is the place to be.
Snapchat - Even though Snapchat has somehow weaned in popularity in the last year it is still worth considering if you are looking to talk to younger demographics similar to TikTok.
Customise your ads
One general approach to advertising on social media that will apply across the board is the need to customise your ads for the various demographics you are targeting.
Women over 50 years of age will have different sensibilities to men in their 30s and they will in turn react to different kinds of ads that young people below 18 years of age will.
It can be as simple as you running very similar ads for all of these demographics but changing the picture you are using for each and improving your click through rate across the board.
You can also track data easier if you are running different ads for each demographic group and customise each ad as the data is coming in. Maybe the picture you selected for one demographic is working but another one isn’t. It’s easy to tweak and optimise in this situation.
Here are some good statistics about the use of the various platforms we mentioned
One of the more underutilised elements of social media advertising for businesses is the use of influencers.
The most obvious version of this strategy would be to identify a social media account that has a substantial reach to the kinds of demographics that you know will be interested in your event.
You can then reach out to the owners of these accounts directly and negotiate a price for them posting about your event.
This can be a very effective method of getting your message to the right people. It can often be more effective than even some of the more sophisticated PPC campaigns.
Small local influencers
The large accounts with many followers tend to be the ones everyone focuses on.
However there are many smaller accounts that might be more geographically specific or with a deep penetration of a specific social group.
Whether this is a group of mums in an area where you want to run an event selling high quality baby clothes or a jiu jitsu tutor in an area where you are running a fitness event.
These people will have considerably smaller accounts with numbers that are a fraction of the larger account that you will come across in the first ten minutes of your research into a given topic.
If approached properly, posts by these smaller local influencers can have a bigger impact on the success of your event than posts by large accounts that have a less well defined audience.
The ultimate deciding factors in making influencer marketing work for you is your ability to do research to identify the right account within your niche and your ability and willingness to negotiate the right prices for their posts.
This approach is a bit more personal than just anonymously planning campaigns in the google ads system or facebook ads.
However, if you have the research and negotiating skills you can make influencer marketing work for you and make a real contribution to the success of your event.
Leaflet distribution and event marketing
Businesses have used leaflets to advertise events for decades. They have remained a large part of the advertising efforts of the biggest events through all the technological shifts in the last twenty years.
It is fair to say that leaflets work and that they are most likely to remain in wide use into the future.
However leaflet distribution works only if the people executing and planning each campaign approach this process with the right principles in mind.. Many of the above mentioned principles have an even larger impact on leaflets than they do on other advertising methods.
You should start planning your leaflet campaigns months ahead of the start date of your event. The design, printing and other logistics can take a while and you do not want to be rushing through this process.
The leaflet is a physical piece of advertising that your potential customers will end up holding in their hand at some point.
The way it looks is very important. You definitely want to make sure that a professional has designed it and that someone experienced with flyer distribution has had a close look at it.
We at The Private Postman run a free design consultation service for all our clients. If they want to do the designs themselves or with their designer we have a look at their results and before sending the design to print we provide detailed feedback on how they can improve the said design.
We do this to maximise the effectiveness of each campaign as the design of the pamphlet is such an important part of it.
For any clients that do not have a designer yet we offer our inhouse design team. Thus streamlining the process and delivering good results quickly.
Some of the most important element to leaflet design are
Simplicity - keep your designs simple. Many people have the tendency to put too much information on their pamphlets. That is what your website is for.
The design of your pamphlet should mostly focus on delivering your visual identity, inform the recipient about the dates and focus of your event and share some very basic information.
Photography - the choice of photography in your design is very important. The trend has been to move away from sharing too much information in text and instead trying to deliver the general message through a very well selected photo.
- the easiest way to direct people to your website from your leaflets is by using QR codes.
Instead of worrying about spelling your URL correctly and trying to figure out the most straightforward way for people to remember the name of your website you can simply generate a QR code and anyone that has some level of interest can get to your website with a single scan using their smartphone.
Your flyers should include a QR code. Here is some more information about these
Visual Identity - We’ve mentioned this a few times already but we will keep repeating this idea because it is so important. Keep your colour scheme, fonts, logos and other aspects of your visual identity consistent across platforms and media.
Types of leaflet distribution for events
There are many ways you can get your pamphlets into the hands of your potential customers.
One of the most obvious things that will pop up as soon as you start your research into this topic is the distinction between hand to hand and door to door deliveries.
Hand to hand systems work on the idea that your distributors target a specific place with busy foot traffic at a busy time of day.
They then proceed to give out your pamphlets to people passing by. This is an approach we generally don’t tend to recommend.
There are multiple disadvantages to this technique
- lack of tracking
- higher costs
- diminished ability to target demographics
- lack of speed of execution
However for event marketing, hand to hand campaigns can sometimes be appropriate and successful. Some examples of situations where we might even recommend the use of campaigns of this kind are.
Handing out leaflets outside a cultural event to advertise an event of a similar kind with the same audience
Advertising an event aimed at professionals by targeting tube stations located close to office buildings at busy times (for example Canary Wharf if you are based in London)
Targeting university campuses with hand to hand campaigns advertising an event aimed at students
As you can see you can use hand to hand campaigns successfully for events if planned correctly. It is one of the few types of business ventures that can run campaigns of this kind with good results despite the disadvantages of this technique we mentioned above.
Door to door campaigns for events
Door to door campaigns are the bread and butter of most leaflet distribution companies.
It is the most cost efficient method of getting your leaflets into the right hands and most companies will base their systems around it.
Ultimately door to door campaigns focus on getting your pamphlets through the letterboxes of relevant households.
You can base the selection of these on their geographical location or on demographics.
The ability to target these campaigns effectively has grown and the systems have become more sophisticated over the years. If you need to target mostly young families with children the company you work with should be able to tell you where these people live and how you can target them.
Local, local, local
Door to door campaigns are at their most effective and powerful when you have a local area that you want to advertise in.
If you know that there are many households close to the location of your upcoming event with people that might have interest in attending, no other marketing method will provide you the same level of coverage as a door to door campaign.
We mentioned some of the demographic skews that come with using specific social media platforms earlier. The same kind of issues come with using other offline marketing methods like print or magazine ads.
On the other hand door to door distribution campaigns can reach every single household in a given area. Without an exception and with no demographics tilt.
That is their great power.
They can also do this repeatedly on carefully selected dates with variations in your designs.
The people in your area can receive your leaflets with a tweaked design every month for four months before the date of your event.
It is very difficult to gain this kind of mind share and penetration of your local market by any other method.
The most common target for door to door campaigns are privately owned residential households.
There are many reasons for this. Some of the more obvious are.
People living in these will most often be the ones businesses are looking to target.
These places tend to be reliably accessible and allow for repeated drops.
It is relatively easy to track these deliveries compared to other methods
They allow for shared drops and thus offer a great value for money (more on this later)
With that said there might be a need to focus on other types of households as well. Local authority housing is a great example.
Campaigns of this kind will generally need a completely separate approach to the usual door to door delivery focused on privately owned residences.
You’ll often find local authority housing in gated and locked estates, in buildings with access that is difficult to negotiate and drops in these conditions can be hard to track.
We at The Private Postman have developed a completely separate system for local authority housing drops and we would recommend for you to discuss these with us directly if you are looking to go down this path.
Print advertising is an industry that has certainly declined over the last half a decade. The number of people that buy physical magazines and newspapers has plummeted.
In general print advertising will work only if we select our placements very carefully.
For B2C campaigns, print advertising can be effective if we are looking to target mostly older demographics in specific publications.
Some very niche publications with well defined audiences that map on our target demographics can also be useful to approach.
There are still some active magazines and regular publications with a good sized well defined audiences that focus on design and art. There are magazines that focus on country living and the lifestyle associated with it.
You can even find niche magazine stores that are doing very well now.
If you approach print advertising strategically and find publications that have deep penetration into one of the demographic or interest groups that you are focusing on, it might be a good idea to allocate a part of your budget here.
Unless you are organising a very large wide-reaching event the general rule nowadays is to avoid most high profile mainstream publications and focus on niche markets and magazines that can deliver your message to a specific audience.
This way you keep your advertising budget in check and with a bit of extra negotiation and research you can make a real impact in the important groups you are after.
If an event is successful once, why not run it again next year?
Most of the advertising principles we mentioned above will apply both to repeat as well as to unique one-off events.
However repeat events do allow for some extra avenues for quality promotion.
Two come to mind immediately - SEO and testimonials.
Search Engine Optimisation
There has been a whole industry built around optimising websites for good Google rankings. It can be such a difficult undertaking to get your website to rank well on keywords that are relevant to you that it can be impossible to do for a one-off event.
However, if you are running an event that has been successful in the past and you are planning to regularly repeat this success, aiming for your website to start ranking well on Google is a good way to do it.
The advantages of appearing high on searches related to your niche are too numerous to list. It suffices to say that there are companies that spend six or seven figures every year just to rank well on Google.
Good ranking in the search engines can bring in a lot of business.
There are two ways you should approach your search engine optimization first.
You have to start writing regular high quality blog posts related to what you do. This will help with the amount of content and keywords on your website and give the search engines something to chew on.
If you’ve written your blog posts well and made them engaging you will also keep the attention of the visitors to your site for longer.
This tells Google that your website has good information and that it engages your visitors. It’s the kind of criteria that Google is looking for and it’s your first step to gaining positions and authority.
Each blog itself can also rank well in a given niche and bring visitors and authority to your site. If you are for example running an event for craftsmen every year it is a good idea for you to write tutorials on how to build a shelf in one’s home.
If this blog ends up ranking well on searches related to building shelves the quality of your site in Google’s eyes goes up.
In this example you can talk about the history of the specific crafts that one might see at your event. Write a blog about the details of blacksmithing in France in the 13th century. Write a blog about woodworking in ancient Egypt. Get specific and write good stuff.
We’ve mentioned the word ‘authority’ earlier. One of the best ways to develop authority for your website in Google’s eyes is having links from other quality websites pointing to yours.
This can be anything from the local council sharing your URL to the people attending your event sharing links to your site. If you have followed the previous piece of advice about your blog you might have people sharing one of your blogs which will help with this effort as well.
The best kinds of links are do-follow links. These would be permanent links that are sitting on other websites pointing to yours. Social media links tend to be no-follow and these tend to be less impactful.
The best way to get good quality do-follow links is to write guest posts on other people’s blogs, getting the local council to put up a link to your event or engage in local activities that local papers might report on.
Email campaigns have somewhat fallen in popularity in the last ten years. The open rates of advertising emails have gone down and people have gotten more skeptical about opening emails from anyone who isn’t a direct contact they recognise.
It can be useful however, for you to capture the email addresses from people who have visited your website and showed some interest.
If you do this and then carefully craft the messages you send out, your open rates could still be very good and the impact of your campaigns can be real and positive.
Making sure that people who have shown some interest in your event are regularly reminded is a valuable tactic.
On the other hand the option to purchase a list of relevant email addresses to target is still here. It can be a powerful tool for B2B advertising since you can buy lists that are relevant to specific fields.
If you are running a food show aimed at connecting suppliers and restaurants in London the value of having a few thousand email addresses for people in decision making positions in local restaurants should be obvious.
You can expect your open rates to be lower in these campaigns but if you carefully coordinate your email campaigns with other ways of reaching these people via offline marketing techniques you can maximise their effectiveness.
Email campaigns are not a thing of the past but you have to approach them with a more sophisticated mindset than what used to be common 10+ years ago.
We’ve talked about starting your marketing efforts as early as possible. Preferably a year or many months before the day of your actual event.
The same thing of course applies to getting people committed to coming to your event. The more people that can commit with their money ahead of time the better.
We can encourage this by early-bird discounts where the earlier a person commits to buying a ticket to your event the better price they get.
It is hard to overstate the value of having good ticket sales months ahead of the event.
Good pre-sale numbers can have a great impact on your cash-flow. You can use these numbers for negotiating with investors, B2B customers or advertisers.
This is something that is worth losing some profit percentage on your early bird tickets for as the leverage gained through good pre-sale or early sale numbers is substantial in all the above mentioned situations.
Marketing an event is a complex task. All of the techniques above are effective and should be at least considered whether you are planning a one-off event or are repeating a successful one from previous years.
We at The Private Postman focus on delivering leaflets and planning offline marketing campaigns. We’ve done so successfully since 2009. We’ve led the development in technologies and systems in our field since the inception of the company.
We work with events of various sizes and regularly do drops of hundreds of thousands of leaflets for some of the larger more recognisable names.
If you think that leaflet distribution should be a part of the marketing campaign for your event feel free to get in touch with us here for more information.