Inner Circle

Event Marketing  

6 Ideas to Fall in Love With

by Kimberly Hardcastle


To commemorate Valentine’s Day, I asked some of mdg’s top event marketers to share the tools, techniques, and new ideas they’re head-over-heels about. Sure, flowers and chocolates are nice, but these attendee acquisition ideas just might spark the passion you need to exponentially grow your next event.


ben mcrae“I like email. I LOVE email narratives.”Benjamin McRae, director of web strategy
Registration is open, here are the keynotes, look at these show features. Yawn. Think about reconceptualizing your marketing funnel as a narrative with a beginning, middle and end, and make sure to feature your potential attendee as the hero. Early messages should focus on establishing a conflict. This is a great way to demonstrate an understanding of current and pressing challenges within your industry and engage the audience. Mid-campaign messages chronicle your hero’s journey by delivering content that teases solutions to these challenges and introduces allies (in the form of thought leaders) along the way. And late-campaign messages should lead heroes toward the story’s resolution by directly tying those teases to opportunities at your event and conveying the ways that attending will truly elevate them to hero status. Remember that you can also use marketing automation to introduce latecomer leads to the beginning of your narrative!


ingrid thorson“Non-attendee survey data has a special place in my heart.”Ingrid Thorson, account director
A key component to effective marketing is understanding what attendees get from your event and why prospects aren’t coming. This helps illuminate the difference in perception between attendees and nonattendees, enabling the creation of messaging that speaks to the benefits of the show and provides solutions to objections. Bonus tip: Rather than asking nonattendees only about reasons for their nonattendance (which usually illicits unactionable data, e.g., not enough time/budget), ask them about the issues that keep them up at night or what they want to capitalize on for growth. Build future content around those compelling issues to better address their needs.


kacia reilly“I’m passionate about digital-first design.”Kacia Reilly, director of creative services
When designing new campaign creative, think “backwards.” By thinking about design from a digital perspective first, nothing is lost in the translation from print to digital, and deliverables maintain an impactful and creative design throughout the course of the campaign.


lara regan“Messaging testing makes my dreams come true.”Lara Regan, managing copy director
Is your audience listening? There’s no way of knowing unless you actively assess your messaging. Survey and interview attendees and prospects about their pain points, relevant topics, reasons for attending, etc., and spend time analyzing the results so you can work them in to the most effective messaging strategy possible. Once you’ve got your messaging plan in place, monitor metrics (open rates, conversion rates, etc.) to confirm that your approach is working or to signal that you need to adjust it.


kristen ferrer“Proactive + Reactive = True Love Forever”Kristen Ferrer, director of digital strategy
These days, marketing campaigns need to be an equal mix of proactive and reactive. While you strive to employ best practices in web design, email marketing, digital advertising, etc., you should also have a built-in methodology to ensure that you’re constantly testing and adapting based on what’s working and what’s not. Agile marketing is about responding to change and data to improve speed, predictability, transparency and adaptability.


anjia nicolaidis“Spreading the love through industry communities.”Anjia Nicolaidis, international marketing specialist
International delegation programs are a common tactic used to incentivize groups to attend trade events, but often these programs flatline. It’s time to think bigger and explore new ways to build industry communities to increase engagement with international audiences year-round. This increases loyalty and informs how we personalize our messaging, so we are more effective at connecting audiences with the people, education and solutions that will make their experience and participation in a trade event truly meaningful.