Event marketers are always looking for effective means to reach prospective attendees; but not all event marketers have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on their acquisition campaigns. The following are scrappy ways to use the power of multipliers for driving attendance at your next event.
Expand Your Reach With Influencers. Do you have connections with well-known professionals in your industry? Influencer marketing can seem like a scary concept when you operate in a smaller industry, but the basis of influencer marketing is using people in your community to endorse your message. Find those passionate people in your industry and provide them with the tools they need to share your message. Even for influencers that you don’t have connections with, an offer of free registration can be an easy incentive for someone with a social following in your industry.
Think (and Partner) Locally. Consider reaching out to local chambers of commerce, workforce partnership groups, business incubators, academic institutions and/or other organizations who are connected to the local business community and encourage them to invite their (relevant) members to your event. Instead of treating them as promotional partners only, consider allowing them to serve on a host committee, influence content, co-locate a meeting, introduce sessions, etc., to give them a sense of “ownership.”
Tap Into Speakers, Exhibitors, Sponsors. By providing marketing toolkits to each of these groups, you make it easy for them to promote their participation at your event. And if you want to go the extra step, create customized marketing toolkits for each speaker and exhibitor. When a speaker receives a social media ad featuring their headshot and session title, they’re so much more likely to share widely and more likely to receive comments and engagement from their connections than they would on a generic conference image.
Engage Event Boards and Committees. How can you engage your board of directors or volunteer committee members? Your board members are involved because they care about the success of the event and the industry. Ask board members to record testimonial videos, invite their networks to your event, encourage their trusted suppliers to exhibit at the event and otherwise serve as a force multiplier for your message.
Develop Association Partnerships. Does your event provide content that would also be relevant to ancillary audiences? Are your members usually involved with more than one association? This can open the door to partnerships with these other professional associations who are looking for ways to create more value for their members. Create a landing page for each association partner with curated session details, exhibitors and discount codes to make it easy for them to easily promote your event.
Look for Press Trades. Many industry publications are willing to promote your event in exchange for free tickets or media sponsorship opportunities. They stand to benefit from a presence at your event if you’re delivering important industry content, so it’s a valuable trade for them. Reach out to the publications and advertisers in your industry and see what they’re willing to offer for low-to-no-spend.
Meet the Next Generation. Start building brand loyalty with the next generation of attendees by reaching out to colleges and universities that have disciplines in your subject matter. Offering free attendance or student rates to these groups can help you bring in new attendees before they reach the workforce.
Explore Social Media Beyond Your Page. Research where your attendees and exhibitors turn first for information on industry trends or news — social media, online forums, message boards, etc. If you can have a consistent, thoughtful presence in those places, you will stay top of mind when they’re searching for the resources you provide. One caveat — ensure you are making valuable contributions to the conversations, not simply “spamming” audiences with promotional messaging. Sharing content from your event that aligns with the conversation is a great way to do just that.
It’s important to remember that although the use of multipliers might seem “free,” reaching and cultivating your audience will take an investment of human capital — as well as a lot of patience. The Attendee Acquisition Roundtable from Lippman Connects is a great forum for discussing with peers the nuances of executing multiplier programs and best practices for attracting and retaining attendees.