To say audience acquisition for events and meetings remains a challenge is an understatement. Many organizers find their email databases are no longer as effective as they used to be. And it’s exhausting and resource-intensive to keep generating outbound event promotion methods.
To see what’s really working when it comes to audience acquisition, we asked several seasoned meetingprofs and eventprofs to share their top insights and tips.
“There is a huge rise in influencer marketing across all industries. Consumers are tuning out of regular advertising. Meeting organizers and planners are looking for alternative channels that can extend their reach beyond their current audience. Influencer marketing is a natural evolution to amplify an event reach by tapping into the pre-existing trust an event influencer has with his/her community. It’s a move to cultivate trust and authenticity by putting word-of-mouth to work.
Information overload drives customers to filter their choices to those few who are most trusted. This gives event professionals access to untapped potential participants and helps increase event brand awareness at scale.
The top challenges any event professional faces is building attendance, cultivating FOMO (Fear of missing out) and amplifying their event brand and experience. Relying on the same marketing channels and growth tactics no longer generate the same results as they once did. Statistics have consistently shown that 92% of people trust word-of-mouth.”
Rachel Stephan, snöballer-in-chief, snöball event influencer marketing
“Unless you are a deeply well – established, multi-year event that sells out before the show ends, meaning you are one of the other 7.98 million events that happen annually (industry estimate for events in the U.S.), you need to understand marketing in today’s digital-enabled, time-crunched world.
Using intentional event design to create a “must-return” event is one way to build an audience, and we all know retention is less stressful and less expensive than acquiring a new audience. Capturing attention with video, building word-of-mouth capital, working with niche influencers and creating compelling and unique content for your audience are how you will attract participants, one at a time, or maybe two if you have a compelling “BOGO” offer! It’s not easy – but bringing together the right mix of participants is key to a great event and future growth.”
Tahira Endean, CMP, author of “Intentional Event Design,” and speaker
“With the rise of influencer marketing as well as increased competition in live events, I’m seeing producers asking more of those involved in their event in order to market more effectively. Empowering speakers, for example, to use what are often their larger social media platforms in order to drive traffic to registration has gone from being a polite request to a contractual obligation. Opportunities like this have given rise to event-specific influencer marketing platforms, a category that didn’t even exist until recently, which empower everyone from sponsors, exhibitors and even attendees to increase ticket sales.”
Nick Borelli of Borelli Strategies, consultant, author and speaker
“The mark of a great planner remains “attention to detail.” With all the excellent technology and hardware that meeting and event planners now have at hand, there’s a tendency to over-rely on our digital assistants to the point of forgetting how much this will always be a high-touch industry. (I won’t give particulars, but I’ve been as guilty as anyone and paid the price!)
Appreciating your audience – from putting names in email subject lines to thanking them personally for attending, as IMEX’s Ray Bloom does – goes a long way to spreading great word-of-mouth, which is the single-most proven method of attracting customers.”
Terri Hardin, trendspotter who writes for Successful Meetings, Incentive, and other industry publications
“The increased use of influencer marketing is the key trend that has me excited. Why is it important to organizers and planners? Conference registration numbers increase when “fence-sitters” are moved to jump in and register by their “influencers,” who could be widely known, or have small, targeted audiences. Their decisions are influenced by people they respect. In its best form, influencer marketing is refined, well-planned, and genuine.”
Peggy Lamberton, CMP and Meetings, Conferences & Incentives Manager at InterAct.Events
“As more potential event and meeting attendees delete emails, block ads and hide promoted social posts, word-of-mouth marketing is proving to be one of the most effective strategies to increase event attendance. There are now new event tech tools that make it so easy for attendees to share the word far and wide with their networks. Organizers tapping these tools reach new audiences faster than they could ever do before because peer-to-peer event marketing has more authenticity tied to it – and ultimately leads to the credibility of the event, and builds loyalty and trust.”
Dahlia El Gazzar, DAHLIA+ Agency, idea igniteur and event tech evangelist
“Meeting professionals are reimagining their event experiences to attract new audiences and drive ‘repeat attenders.’ Event designers are seeking additional ways—both technological and analog—for creating connections and engagement, so that individual participants can curate personalized and unique experiences that build on personal and professional ROI or ROE.
This year at our own World Education Congress (WEC), we are offering experience coaches online and onsite to help participants navigate thoroughly customizable education, networking and marketplace opportunities. Prior to WEC, the coaches will help attendees curate and organize their plans for the event. Onsite, those very same coaches will help attendees customize their experiences in new and unique ways.”
Jessie States, CMM, Manager of Professional Development, Meeting Professionals International
Contact Tamar@gleanin.com to learn how social referral marketing can increase audience reach, registration and attendance.
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