by Maria Walda
Events are a time for individuals to come together and learn something new. They’re a time for event planners to provide guests with an experience they’ll remember. In fact, 91 percent of event planners measure whether or not an event is successful based on attendee satisfaction, according to EventMB.
What are some ways you can make sure to get attendees to your event, fill seats, and make it so as many people as possible can remember your event? Here are five effective ways to increase event attendance.
1. Make the City Part of the Event
To drive attendance for your event, highlight its location and all it has to offer in marketing, such as emails, website, and invites.
Emma’s Marketing United incorporates the growing city of Nashville into its event. Marketing United takes place at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. The museum is called the “Smithsonian of country music” due to its “unrivaled collection,” according to the museum’s website. Having the event at the museum highlights Nashville’s culture and gets people excited to be in an incredible venue close to the best Nashville bars and restaurants.
Emma also creates content all about what attendees can do while they are in Nashville, such as this guide about what attendees can do while they are in Nashville. Writer Mckenzie Gregory even lists out some breweries to visit in Nashville:
Another example of incorporating the city into an event comes from the World Education Congress hosted by Meeting Professional International. The event takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. This landing page discusses the features and culture of Indianapolis and gives the reader an idea of what their overall experience will be like in relation to where the venue is within the city.
2. Create Content that Tells a Story
Develop content using participants from previous events or a few key influencers you invite in advance of this event, to explain their experiences with it and get others excited.
In a phone interview, Rachel Stephan, owner of Sensov/ event marketing, said to get people to attend an event, create content that tells a story. If you are promoting an event that has taken place in the past, she says, “Tell the story of the speaker, tell the story of an exhibitor, a sponsor, or even past participants. They can share some of their connections that they’ve made at the event, their ‘aha moments,’ and what they’ve learned and applied in the past year from that event. And maybe incentivize them and give them something in exchange of sharing some of those insights with you.”
Stephan’s second company, an event influencer marketing platform called snöball, creates shareable marketing tools that are unique to each exhibitor, speaker, and participant to help cultivate trust and extend reach when promoting an event. For example, a speaker will get their own landing page with their content and customized social media posts already done for them so it’s easier for influencers to share content with their networks. Having landing pages for all of your event influencers will help amplify their brands.
Stephan also suggests creating content about what the speakers will be talking about at the upcoming event.
“Arrange an interview with one of the speakers of your event and dig deeper into what they will talk about. Then repurpose it into a video, a blog article, or share it on social,” she said.
Here’s a simple example from Emma. Emma interviewed attendees and speakers after Marketing United 2016. One of the attendees said, “The only marketing conference I go to every year.” Interviews with real people, even short ones, are powerful when it comes to getting people excited to attend your next event.
3. Plan a Unique Experience, Then Promote It
Create an experience that is personalized to what your attendees’ goals are, and ensure your website highlights how you’ll help them achieve them. Three key elements to consider include how to set up your content, how to set up your room, and what food to serve.
If you are planning an event for a software company, a unique experience can be built around attendee engagement in small groups. You can facilitate group discussion to encourage engagement among attendees by creating breakout sanessions that have specific topics for small group discussions so people can talk about their interests. Make sure you give everyone a chance to speak.
And make sure you don’t forget about the food. Seriously, good food is a major part of any event whether it’s for your customers, a corporate event, or a fundraiser for a nonprofit. Food is an important element and should be well executed. The team at catering company Food For Thought says it well. They write, “A memorable event is made up of several elements, blended expertly together to make magic.”
4. Send Personal Invites
Sending personalized invites is a great way to stand apart from all the news everyone is bombarded with every day.
Send personal invites to people who have attended the event in the past, or if it’s a new event, send invite to leads who have come in through your website. Personalized invites will help to build relationships with potential attendees — and solid, real relationships will give potential attendees extra reasons to come to your event. A personal invite can be sent in the form of a letter or email. You might want to separate who gets a letter and who gets an email. For those who have attended in the past, you can send a letter with a gift inside to show your appreciation for them attending. An example of a personal invitation might look something like this:
Dear Susan, We hope you enjoyed Event Fun last year! We are delighted to invite you to this year’s Event Fun. This year, our speakers will include __ and ___. Because you have attended the past three Event Fun events, you are also invited to our private dinner at ___ with some of the keynote speakers from the event. You can discuss event trends, event ideas, and ask any questions to some of the top event professionals. Please RSVP directly to me at [insert owner email address]. Thank you, [Insert CEO/owner of company name]
5. Get the Media to Cover Your Event
Last but not least, media coverage can help send more attendees your way, and there are a few simple steps to securing it.
Send out a press release to local media outlets with all the information you can think of about your event. Here’s an example of an article about a fundraiser in a local newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The article highlights a fundraising event with an art auction. Proceeds went toward the Avalon support services and the artists who created the art.
Don’t know who to send press releases to? Create a media list of reporters who cover a beat related to your event.
Make sure you give reporters a reason to come to your event within your email. Are you featuring a speaker that might be of interest to the reporter? What’s the goal of your event? How does your event stand out?
Whether the event is targeted toward the community or for a certain industry (or both), local media coverage will help spread the word about the event and get potential attendees to trust you (especially if they’ve never heard of you).
Now you’re ready to increase event attendance!
It takes a lot of work to plan an event. And since you’ve put all that work in, be sure to go the last mile and make sure your event is experienced by as many people as possible. From quality content creation to different types of event experiences for attendees, here we’ve covered many effective methods to make sure you fill seats at any type of event. Get our event trends guide to discover more about making your experience a can’t-miss event.