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The How – and Why – of Event Marketing for Small Businesses

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In a recent report, Frost and Sullivan found that live events are worth $500 billion. In case you are wondering, this is huge, and B2B marketers are investing 20-30% of their budgets on event marketing each year. The only problem with this is that while most marketers say that event marketing is their top strategy, businesses are still struggling to leverage profits and gain conversions post event.

The key is adopting strategies that maximize each dollar spent on event marketing. If you are a small business looking to make this happen, here are the strategies you need to make this happen.

Have Intent

Like every other aspect of your business, success takes planning. As a small business, your resources may be more limited. It is important for you to strategize about what your end goals of holding a live event are. To garner the most interest, live events should be focused and tailored to specific niche of your audience. Otherwise, followers might not understand the purpose.

Of course, there are times, like grand openings, that you have the luxury of being a bit more generic with the event theme, but otherwise create your event around your goal.

For example, if you are looking to bring more awareness to your advanced technologies, host an unveiling of your new product or service.

If you want to be viewed as an authority in your field, host a seminar.

If you are looking to grow one niche of your target market, host an event that is tailored to them.

Knowing what you want to achieve before you even get started will lead you in the right direction for choosing the best live event for your business.

Choose The Best Event To Highlight Your Product or Service

Ok, you’ve decided to host a live event. You even have goals for how the event will benefit your business. Where do you go from here?

One of the trickiest aspects of event marketing for small business is understanding what type of event will best help them in meeting their goals.

Five of the best live events for small business are

  • Seminars or roundtables
  • Small B2B or B2C conferences
  • Product or Service Unveilings
  • Virtual Events
  • In-house customer events

These are the types of events that your audience will recognize and be interested in. Whatever your live event is, chances are it fits in one of these categories. If it doesn’t, ask yourself why. Thinking out of the box isn’t a bad thing, but make sure that your focus is on target for generating leads and conversions, not just hosting a really cool event.

Optimize Before, During and After

Successfully incorporating live events into your small business means understanding how to optimize to your marketing strategy at every point of the journey.

Before:

  • Make sure your event is discovered through organic search. Tie relevant keywords into your event marketing and create a space for your event on your landing page. People who make it to your event page through organic search are more likely to follow through to registration.
  • Market your event across all social media platforms. Social media marketing is huge for live events. It is also the most effective word of mouth platform you have for promoting your live event. Instagram and Snapchat stories are a great way to build up anticipation and get followers excited about your event.
  • Don’t forget about outbound marketing strategies. Depending on your target market, you might not be able to find them all on social media. Use outbound marketing strategies to approach and attract potential guests that might otherwise slip through the cracks.
  • Analyze, analyze, analyze. Before the day of your event, you need an idea of just how successful it is going to be. This will help you determine if you need to adopt new marketing strategies before it is too late. Keep track of data like social media engagement, CTR and reservations. With reservations, pay close attention to what days people are registering for your event and special promotions or discount offers affect registration rate.

During:

  • Use event management software to add names and contact information of every new subscriber.
  • If you are hosting your live event on social media, take advantage of survey and questions to gather data on how your audience feels about the event. What do they love and what do they feel is missing in the heat of the action? People’s opinions will change over time, and small details will be forgotten.
  • Use social media analytical tools to track engagement over the course of your event.
  • Open up a live suggestion or Q&A period at the end of your event if applicable.

After:

This is the point where many small businesses fall short. The live event is over, and you marketed your heart out. All you need to do now is sit back and reap the rewards, right?

No, this couldn’t be the farthest thing from the truth.

  • Depending on the nature of your event, you may or may not have made conversions that day. However, the most potential lies in what happens afterward. This is where you can really generate sales.
  • Remember the software that you used to keep track of registrant’s names, and maybe each new follower that engaged with you on social media? Now is the time to go back and use it. Create an outreach strategy and contact those people. The optimal timeframe for doing this is 24-48 hours after your event.
  • When you reach out to those potential customers, have something to offer them. A nice thank you for attending your event is great, but sweetening the deal with an incentive to commit is even better.
  • Review and strategize for your next event. It’s never too soon to start thinking about your live event. Now is the time to take all the feedback and everything you have learned to develop an event marketing strategy that even better than the one you just started with.

Think of each live event as a growth opportunity. An opportunity to grow your business, grow your revenue and grow your experience in marketing each event. Event marketing is great for small business because it yields big results. Don’t miss out on this potential.

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