How To Play The Long Game in Attendee Acquisition

How attendee acquisition will fare in the years ahead is a hot topic. Recently, Warwick Davies from The Event Mechanic! wrote a great article offering advice to marketers in the era of GDPR and digital overload. He writes, “sound marketing strategies”—cultivating relationships, maintaining permission-based databases, and developing long-term, market-endorsed approaches—and not “isolated marketing tactics” will serve marketers in the challenging years ahead. It’s a long game that favors best practices over corner cutting.

Davies believes the days of scraping the web for email addresses and building email databases from business cards and LinkedIn are doomed. And he’s, “for the most part,” in agreement with experts who say despite the squeeze GDPR may put on some marketers, the regulations offer plenty of long-term benefits: data security, transparency, accountability, and databases of prospects that want to be contacted.

What Davies offers is a more “tried-and-true” approach for preparing for the worst (what he refers to as a pending “attendee acquisition disaster”). His “Winners Circle” suggestions, such as segmenting the database by product line and sending the right message at the right time on the right channel are strong. Plus, his thoughts on implementing “a solid data strategy” to direct attendee-acquisition efforts are spot on.

But playing the long game and applying the fundamentals of good marketing aren’t the only ways to be effective and play by the new rules. Good content year round can earn attention and permission from would-be attendees. Search engine marketing and advertising with the right hooks can also drum up registrations. Social referral marketing, micro-influencer marketing, and exhibitor invitations can help organizers penetrate pockets of unknown prospects without causing any opt-in angst.

At Gleanin, we believe that the practice of bombarding attendees with messages they don’t want to hear is likely to end badly for marketers whether they are GDPR compliant or not. We also think that a sound marketing strategy, as Davies suggests, means integrating some new marketing channels and tactics into a comprehensive permission-based strategy can keep organizers both honest and effective. It’s our own interpretation of Davies’ call to “get your house in order.” If you’re interested in learning more, contact


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