Hosting local events, workshops, conferences or clubs is a great way to increase your offline awareness. But it can also earn you inbound links, online news stories and PR. All of which will help your organic search rankings, which in turn will get you more relevant traffic online.
But it can be hard to know where to focus your efforts and most importantly it can take time.
Don’t expect to post a link on your local Facebook group and expect customers to come flooding (unless you already have a wide network of extended friends and family clambering to attend!).
It will pay off to structure your marketing approach and plan your actions from at least 6 weeks out – like anything, you’ll get out what you put in, so aim to put as much effort into the planning and marketing, as you do the actual event.
Step 1: Create your event marketing page
If you’re planning regular events you’ll need a separate web page (e.g. mydomain.com/events/home-decorating-workshop-zurich) for each event, but if you only run a few a year best to consolidate all onto one page (e.g. mydomain.com/events).
Make it easy for your audience to sign up, include these on your event page:
Name – make it unique, memorable and descriptive
Date and Time – For obvious reasons, make it stand out.
Location – Company name, address, phone number. Add photos of the location venue so it’s easily identifiable.
About – write up a short intro about the event and it’s purpose, make it concise with tangible benefits. You can go into detail further down.
Photos and Video of past events and attendees
Ticket Status – deadline sign up date, limited number, where purchased and how many remaining
Contact Information – make it easy for prospects to get answers to their questions
Details – add as many details about the BENEFITS of the event as possible. I’d suggest using a structure like this:
(Problem) – what is their problem? why do they need this event? what are they struggling with?
(Potential) – wouldn’t it be amazing if….! offer up the possibility that there is an answer to their problem
(Proof) – include testimonials from existing customers, prove that your event will deliver what you say it will.
This is the basics and you’ve probably covered this, but if you want to go a step further and assume that your audience will be looking for your event on Google here are some quick tips to ensure you make the most of your listing.
If you access your site through a CMS like WordPress, be sure to include the event name, location and date within your meta title – let me show you how this works:
Create a short (10-30 seconds) video explaining the unique benefit of your event, workshop, course etc. Upload to YouTube and Vimeo and post on your event page. This will capture visitor’s imagination; provide a super clear proposition and reason to sign up.
Step 2: Selling tickets
If you are selling tickets, save yourself an invoicing headache and sign up to Eventbrite. Not only does this make for an easy life in financial logistics, it also provides a valuable link back to your website.
I suggest adding a link from your full event page direct to eventbrite, to ensure all the event details are featured on your webpage (as well as on theirs).
Step 3: Submit your event to local listings sites
You’ll need the event title, description, when and where it takes place, and a URL for more information. Not only is this a great way of advertising your event, it also serves as a brilliant way to get inbound links to your site – which can help you rise up the rankings for local search results later on.
When listing on other sites don’t forget to include your business address (even if the event isn’t held there) so that you gain some local search citation too.
If you’re in Switzerland, here are just a few examples of the many listings sites you can get your event featured:
http://www.megasitelinks.com/ (a very generic one, and there are hundreds of free directory sites, choose ones that already list events in your city)
http://www.meetup.com/ (you can post free or paid events on meetup.com, start off by creating a group or piggyback on existing groups of likeminded people)
Step 4: Blogs and forums
Look beyond the normal listings sites for ways to get your event featured in local blogs and forums, guest blogging is still a great way to get your message out. It might take you a while to write a useful, unique article the helps an audience, but the benefits of this bespoke message, and the relationship you build with the blogger will see you through:
Step 5: Promote on your social channels
This might seem like an obvious path to finding your target audience, but there are things you should do and things you should not do.
Post your event on Facebook. Create an event under your business page rather than your personal page.
Post your event in groups you are already active in and have added value to others previously.
Log into your Google account and visit the communities page then search for relevant communities where your fans will be. If you find an active group, join and participate.
Share it on all your social platforms and answer questions and engage any comments – always offer to help.
Use Followerwonk to find and follow influencers amongst your followers on Twitter – you can go a step further and reach out to them to build a relationship. They may have a wide and relevant following of their own that you can piggy-back on.
Ever felt like all your efforts are coming to nothing?
Is your existing network failing to produce the quantity of interested people?
There are times when you just want a quick guaranteed stream of interested people signing up, and there is a fail-safe way to find your audience (assuming your event is jam packed with value and priced correctly).
You may have tried Facebook advertising before and had meagre results?
But have you used Facebook Power Editor?
Did you know you can great a ‘lookalike’ audience and reach new people who are similar to your existing audience on Facebook?
Facebook advertising changes frequently, and the most recent changes allow you now to hyper target at a very reasonable cost
Now, in 4 quick steps you can:
- Set up your event page
Create a post in FB that entices your fans (and similar people) to sign up for your event. Update 1st Jan 2015: FB no longer shows overly promotional posts in the newsfeed and so FB advertising is the way to go now (a great post by Jon Loomer explains in detail)
- Create a laser targeted audience for your event in FB power editor
- Create an advert (Canva is brilliant for this) to promote your event post to your newly targeted audience. By the way, you need only spend just $1 per day to see results.
(N.B. It can take patience and time to perfect this technique, play around with different audience segments; the options are unlimited on FB now.)
Step 6: Email newsletter
If you have an email database (you do, don’t you? If not, start collecting email addresses right now!) send them an email promoting your event.
Make people feel special and ensure there is a good reason for them to sign up.
Create some urgency around the final sign up date, remind them several times before the event. Think about giving them a special deal as existing customers.
Step 7: Ask for reviews after the event
Email addresses are like marketing gold. An email address of someone who’s just attended your event and is pumped up about you and your brand is the holy grail.
During the event ask your attendees to sign up to your mailing list and after the event drop them a note asking for a review – make it easy for them, send them a link to your review page (for e.g. on meetup.com).
These email addresses are great for marketing your next event to. Don’t forget to add a social share button for extra reach and impact.
BONUS Pro Tip 8: Create an event #hashtag
I’ve seen this used a lot at big events in London, and whilst it’s not seen so often at smaller events (or in Switzerland) this is a great way to expand your event reach.
If your event is social in any way and people will be sharing photos, checking in, or inviting friends, create a proper Hashtag to help your event succeed further. (More help here)
Add this #hashtag to all event marketing promotions online and offline (with signage and banners). People may use Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and tag your event.
So there you have it, a quick and dirty list of actions to plan before you launch your event, workshop, conference, club, concert etc. This list is certainly not exhaustive – but it gives you a good grounding in local event marketing techniques to put into action to guarantee a high volume of take-up.