Event marketing

Event marketing in difficult times

Despite lingering health and safety concerns, record inflation and a barrage of divisive current events, the show must go on. But it can be difficult for event professionals to know the right way to promote their gatherings without recognizing the challenges their attendees may face in their personal and professional lives.

“Maintaining a keen awareness of the mindset your target attendees may be in when they open your invitation email, land on your registration page, or show up to your event has never been so good. critical to the success of event marketers,” notes Camille White-Stern. , head of experiential marketing for the event marketing platform Splash.

His solution? “Meet your attendees where they are psychologically in order to get them to take the action you want them to take, whether it’s registering for your event, actively participating in your event, or s ‘engage with your brand after the event.

So how exactly do you do that? Read on for five key tips from White-Stern and other experienced event marketers.

1. Lead with empathy and acknowledge the challenges your audience faces.
Taking an “empathetic approach” is key, notes Jeff Snyder, CEO of experiential agency Inspira Marketing. “We start by collecting data on how the consumer is feeling, and then we look at research around the category,” he says. “We overlay that with brand goals and create an integrated, scalable strategy.”

White-Stern advises to imagine yourself in the place of your participants in order to take into account their points of view. “What needs are they trying to meet? What problems are they trying to solve? Thinking about their needs and expectations before and during the event will help you design and deliver human-centered experiences that deliver real value to attendees,” she said. said.

To avoid being tone deaf, she adds, lean toward authenticity and don’t be afraid to acknowledge the challenges and current climate facing your target industry. “Not all sectors will be impacted equally, so keep that in mind when crafting your communications and touchpoints before, during and after the event,” she says.

“One of the ways we’ve addressed this at Splash is by including a custom question in our event registration forms that asks attendees to share the challenges or questions that matter most to them,” White-Stern continues. “Not only does this help me stay on top of what matters most to attendees, but it also helps me tailor the content and experience of the event to ensure positive feedback on emotion or Attendee Sentiment, which is a newer event metric that we track to help us gauge event success.

2. Focus on the value your event delivers.
“We live in an increasingly noisy world,” said Rodney Hart, vice president of events for marketing platform RainFocus. “As an event organizer, the temptation to keep the noise down can be to promote loudly and frequently. But the intent of that will have the opposite effect.”

The best way to navigate today’s landscape, adds Hart, is to focus on promoting assess your event can offer.

White-Stern agrees. “What we’re seeing is that people are more selective with their time and more choosy about which events they choose to attend. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing this change in behavior in your event marketing and communications,” she says. “The solution is to make it clear that you know how valuable their time is and focus on why your event is a worthwhile spend of their time.

She suggests doing this through the event registration page, confirmation messages, pre-event reminder emails, and post-event emails. “At the end of the day, despite all the headwinds facing event marketers today, attendees are always seeking and receptive to content and experiences that meet their needs, teach them something new, allow them to overcome an obstacle and/or provide community,” says White-Stern.Photo: Shutterstock

3. Pay attention to the news and adjust your promotions and schedule accordingly.
Stay flexible and be prepared to adjust your marketing plan based on current events. After all, no one wants to be the one sending out pre-scheduled social media posts when the conversation is dominated by a current crisis. Hart adds, “It is important to keep an eye on the current climate and news to adjust the messaging or timing of your communications, if necessary.

Madison Breuer, event planner and PR account manager for Serendipit Consulting, thinks it’s vital for brands to avoid being deaf to the frequency of hot-button issues cropping up these days.

When a crisis arises that could affect your event marketing, Breuer recommends asking yourself a few key questions: “Do we acknowledge that this happened? Are we getting dark? Ask your client if they’d like to talk about it if it’s relevant, and think about what you’re posting to market the event and when,” she advises. “Stay on top of the news and go dark on certain days.” And, if appropriate, consider finding ways to use the event to recognize the situation through fundraisers or other giving methods.

Ultimately, the answer to these questions depends on what feels appropriate for the event and the brand. “Overall, if brands want to stand out and be seen as authentic, they need to be true to their core values ​​and mission. Because it’s all about authenticity and communication.”

4. Avoid communicating too frequently, but don’t overlook crucial information.
Hart advises being strategic about how often you communicate with your potential attendees. “If you’re thinking about a large in-person event, that typically means driving registration long before you have your full content catalog and event offerings in place,” he notes. “Resist the urge to communicate the same details too often to avoid losing your audience’s attention when it comes time to communicate the full value of your event.”

He recommends using an event marketing platform, which will allow you to capture attendee data to see where their interests lie and leverage that for future events.

But don’t forget to share crucial information, which at this time may mean information on health and safety measures, even if local regulations no longer require it. “When it comes to specific issues such as COVID and monkeypox, consumer perception remains diverse,” said Ralph Failla, senior account manager for Inspira Marketing. “Whether necessary or not, we are developing guides and activation practices that ensure the safety of staff and attendees, including disinfection stations and attention to “high touch” areas, for s ‘ensure that consumers feel comfortable participating in an event.’

5. Focus on providing moments of escape and joy.
Feyisola Ogunfemi, owner of Statuesque Events who also runs a coaching and mentoring program called Planners Who Profit, thinks there are currently two types of event attendees.

“While there are a lot of people who want to stay home amid all that is going on, we are also seeing record numbers of people travelling, going to festivals and gathering in large numbers,” she says. . “The pent-up demand for more than two years at home is still there, and people are looking for events to attend and ways to connect with others. Many more are looking for fun and an escape from the daily news cycle of misfortune and sadness – so it’s important that we don’t shy away from providing that to people.”