The first time I participated in anything related to event marketing, I had no idea what was going on. There was the pre-planning buzz, I had been working for three weeks for that company, and then the next thing I knew, I was in the middle of a field in Southern Romania, dressed in a button-down shirt at 39 degrees Celsius, shooting photos of a tractor demonstration.
And, as I was bending my (albeit, chubby) knees to take a shot of the giant wheels (that were, conveniently enough, rolling their way in my direction), I fully realized the propensity of everything that was going on and just how much hard work goes into an event of this grandeur.
Moving tractors, seeders, and combines across the country? Setting up a tent in the Middle of Nowhere and making it look like an oasis of wellbeing and greenness? Being unique with your setup every year (even though you have been doing it for ten years in a row)?
These event marketing people made it look effortless.
Backstage, however, there was a lot of stress, loads of work, and a lot of itty bitty pieces that needed to be glued together to create the kind of event potential clients would love.
What was the secret? How does one pull off an event marketing plan that works? What is the event marketing checklist every marketer should have in their back pocket?
Read on and find out more.
The Marketing Event Planner’s “Before” Checklist
Everything that comes before the actual event feels like a mad race against time, higher management, and, sometimes, against something some would call fate itself.
It is of the utmost importance to put your marketing ideas for events in order now and start your marathon having all the details set in place.
Without further blabbering, the most important things to make sure you handle during the before phase are:
- Set up your event goals (i.e., how many tickets you want to sell, what impact you want certain marketing activities to have on the lead generation, conversion, and/or retention campaigns, and so on).
- Create a realistic budget, but make sure you leave a little wiggle room. If things go wrong, you won’t have to ask for more money. If things go right, you will have the satisfaction of having saved some cash.
- If necessary, get your sponsorship in order – from targeting to including the actual sponsors on all marketing materials, you create for the event.
- Make a website (or at least a landing page). You know what they say, if you’re not on the Internet, you don’t exist.
- Set up an event registration form. Perhaps it’s not a surprise, but we can help you with that.
Also, here is a free online conference registration form you can use:
- Draw your stand. Really, it can help in so many ways! Artistic talent has no importance here – what is truly essential is to visualize all the pieces of your booth/ stand/ event.
- Get your tools in line. Chances are you might have to use some planning tools in your entire endeavor:
– A form building tool (cough, cough, no innuendo here, of course)
– A communication tool (i.e., Slack, for example)
– A task management tool (i.e., Trello, for example)
– One (or more) marketing Automation tools (i.e., Hubspot, for example)
- Create your Social Media profiles and strategy. Your event is a standalone entity – and as such, it should be present on those Social Media channels that are more likely to be accessed by your target audience. Don’t forget to create a unique hashtag for your event (and an event page on Facebook to keep people engaged as well). Also, do send out a pre-event email as well, to remind people of the big day!
- Build your advertising strategy – online and offline. Again, the specific channels on which you may choose to advertise will vary according to your target audience. Go where they are, not where everyone else is.
- Decide on your email marketing strategy. In general, event email marketing is used to both push people further down on the Sales Funnel and loyalize those who have already attended your event in the past (if it’s a recurrent one).
- Make sure you create a data collection strategy that is secure and transparent (and this is especially important if you live in the EU, which means you have to abide by GDPR).
- Invest some time in your content marketing as well – not only can it help with SEO (and thus, the promotion of your event), but it can also engage and convince your target audience.
- If you have sponsors, do take advantage of their reach and create co-marketing campaigns with them. The same goes for influencers and speakers – the more people can spread out the word, the merrier the event will be!
- Consider experiential marketing. The more involved you make your guests feel, the more likely it is that they will genuinely enjoy your event.
- Create a touchpoint map – a map of all the interactions your guests/ potential customers will have with your marketing channel. We will come back with a more in-depth overview of how to create a touchpoint map next week, so stay tuned.
The Marketing Event Coordinator “During” Checklist
What you do before the event is one thing, but things can get very wrong if you don’t pay attention to what happens during the big day as well. If things were planned correctly during the before phase, you wouldn’t usually have to run around in sheer despair, trying to pull together the last bits of the event and ensure nothing wrong happens at the very last moment.
Reality says otherwise, though. Chances are that you will still have to run around (a little) and that something will go (at least) slightly wrong. Sorry for the pessimistic point of view, but you know what they say: better safe than sorry.
Aside from having a backup plan for pretty much everything event-related, you should also make sure to:
- Use social listening (preferably using a tool – Hootsuite offers a somewhat limited solution in this respect, but there are more comprehensive tools in this direction, such as Mention, for example). Doing this will help you react quickly to any feedback you may receive. Plus, it will help you leverage user-generated content to post and re-share during the event.
- Be active on social media – maybe more than usual (as long as it doesn’t become spam). As mentioned above, user-generated content is an especially great feat during events because, so don’t be afraid to use it.
- Mark the key moments and highlights of the event on social media. For instance, if a very famous person will be holding a talk, this is a crucial moment of the event, and it deserves to be on your social channels.
- Go live! You don’t have to do this, but certain types of events/ parts of events are quite catchy in a live format, and they might attract a pretty fantastic crowd on your social media channels.
- Don’t forget about your hashtag. Use it and encourage people who attend the event to use it too!
The Event Planner’s “After” Marketing Plan Checklist
The aftermath of an event can feel like a full release. You definitely deserve a few days of basking in the glory, especially after all the stress and madness.
Before you completely relax, though, do remember this (brief) post event checklist:
- Send out Thank You emails and post Thank You messages on Social Media.
- Let people know you can’t wait to see them next year.
- Amass, organize, and potentially dissect (at least at a superficial level) all the data you have collected during the event.
- Preserve any content you may have collected during the event (photos, testimonials, videos, user-generated content, etc.). Organize it nicely and add it to your archive, to use in the future.
- Run a survey among those who attended your event and find out their opinion. The specific survey type you use depends on you and what exactly you are looking for. But, just in case, we have a couple (more) resources on customer satisfaction feedback here and here.
Like it or not, event management is not a piece of cake. In general, being a corporate event planner is a thrill – but, like a Montagne Rousse, it will take you down before it can get you high.
Regardless of whether you are dabbing in conference planning or massive events that bring together speakers, businesses, and customers alike (like the agro-tech fair that introduced me into this world), you will find that an event planning checklist template will help you make sense of all the chaos.