We recently wrote about what you might call the human side of networking and contact-building at events – how to be the kind of person that people want to network with, when to put self-interest and raw marketing aside and focus on relationship building and how your reputation is a lot more important than the length of your contact list. So OK, you’re focused on being a great relationship partner, your credibility and reputation in your industry are both first-rate and you’ve become so focused on helping the people on your contact list that you have to write little Post-It reminders of what it is that you actually sell.
Now what? It’s all well and good to create all these opportunities for the relationship – how do you get some names into the hopper so that you have somebody to build a relationship with? Luckily, the convergence of major events and communications and data technology are making it easier than ever to build that huge list of semi-random strangers for you to convert into partners, clients and customers. (Just keep your eye on the ball. Is it better to find two new prospects and convert them both into long-term clients, or to annoy a thousand people and convert one?)
Here are three ways you can leverage your technological tools and people skills to turn events into list-builders.
Be An Ultralocal Tweeter – Most people use Twitter to talk to their global network. Turn the model on its head for a day – promote your Twitter feed to people you see at the event and then post high-value information about the event itself. “Hey everybody, free donuts at booth 103!” may not be the ultimate in credibility building, but it’s going to win friends and followers. They came for the donut update, they’ll stay for the long-term information you provide.
You Can’t Buy Love, But You Can Rent Attention – It’s not always easy to accumulate “Likes” for your company or product Facebook page. The main reason? There’s not all that much in it for them. Change the dynamic with a giveaway. It doesn’t have to be pricey to get some momentum going; “very week, I do a random drawing of the people who have liked our restaurant, and that person gets a free lunch with me.” Pry a few hundred dollars loose from the marketing budget, give away an iPad to a random new friend, and watch word of mouth explode. Interestingly, unless you get really crazy with prizes, you will get very few people liking your page who don’t actually like and use your product. Instead, you’ll be drawing down the vast crowd who already liked you but had no particular motivation to make it official.
Shorten That URL, and Put It On a Card – Sending out or publishing white papers, special reports and similar documents is a tried-and-true channel for Internet marketers. Everybody loves a useful free report. They’re a hassle at a face-to-face event. Sure, you can print out a bunch of copies (expensive) but you either end up short and leaving people unhappy, or you print too many and everyone stares at the Tree Murderer as they walk past your booth. But leaving the document online and telling people the link is clumsy and highly error-prone; even if your report is called “a.pdf” and you work at IBM.com, you’re likely to have a full document URL that nobody will remember, let alone remember correctly . There’s an easy fix: use a free URL shortening service like bitly.com or tinyurl.com, and then print up business cards with that URL and a description of what the document is. (Sure, you could print the cards with the full URL, but nobody wants to type all that.) You can low ball this with free cards from services like VistaPrint.com, or spend a little money and go for a glossier presentation. Many business card printers can also handle QR codes, so your prospects can just scan your card with their smartphone and automatically load the document.
If your company has developed a social networking presence on Facebook (and even if it really hasn’t), you can use Facebook as an inexpensive, effective, and scalable tool for promoting specific events. The more investment you’ve made in your social media presence, the more effective this strategy will be – but even Facebook newbies can get good results for compelling events. Here’s a step-by-step mini-guide to effective event promotion.
Step One – Create an Event Page
It couldn’t be simpler – click on the Events section of your company page, and click “Add Event”. Add as much exciting information about the event as you can. The earlier you can nail down specifics, the better – paid or free, exact time of day, exact address of venue, etc.
Step Two – Alert Your Network
Invite everyone from your company’s fan base for whom the event would be appropriate. You can do this directly on Facebook, and you can increase the response rate by also sending out an email blast to the same folks as well as to your general promotional list. Remember, lots of the people who aren’t (yet) fans of your company are nonetheless still on Facebook – so be sure to let them know the event is on.
Step Three – Support From Outside
Don’t just use your Facebook event page as the event’s main web presence. There are still people who aren’t on Facebook, or who have mixed feelings about the site, or who just aren’t very active there. You will want to have a standalone event page or website outside the Facebook infrastructure, and have your Facebook event page point to that external site.
Step Four – Encourage Viral Spread
The real strength of social media isn’t your company having a platform to show off its message; the strength is that your customers and fans will do the sharing for you. Nothing is more powerful than an organically viral message spreading because your fans are excited about something. Encourage that spread by providing ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons on your Event page (and on your off-Facebook page as well). Write a blurb for the event on your company’s main page, and post regular updates about the event both on the event page, and the company page. Have your employees and staff post notices about the event on their own Walls.
Step Five – Tout Your Numbers
Know what makes people want to attend an event? Seeing that a lot of other people are attending too. The higher your attendee count rises, the more likely indifferent or wavering target customers are to sign on themselves. You can pre-build some momentum by accumulating a group of people who are going to come before actually posting the event page, so that you start off with a quickly-growing numeric count. That can really build momentum in the early days of an event announcement!
There are many other ways to leverage Facebook for event promotion, but this covers the basics you need to get your event moving! Find out about more ways to increase attendance through promotion and advertising with Plan Ahead Events.
Why should you invest in face to face events when you can save time and money with virtual events and on-line seminars.? Here’s why!
1. Learning occurs through a variety of options: lectures, panel presentations, hands-on workshops, inspirational keynotes, and other unique opportunities, such as tweet-ups. You can pick a session in whatever style suits your learning needs. And don’t forget about the informal learning that happens in the in-between moments of an in-person event, during meals or waiting for a presentation to begin.
2. There are fewer distractions at face to face events. Have you ever attended an online event only to be interrupted by people stopping in your office, phone calls, emails or meetings? Even though almost everything is on demand these days, carving out time at your office to watch an hour presentation is difficult. When you book yourself a ticket out of town and turn on your “out of office” reply, you attend the event and focus on learning and networking.
3. You share in the energy and excitement of other fellow attendees. Nothing replaces a face-to-face conversation, not even Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Having the time to talk to your peers, both in your industry and in other industries, gives you insight into what other people are doing and lets you benchmark best practices. You find that you aren’t the only one facing a particular challenge, and you just might find a way to apply what someone else is doing to your own situation.
4. You get to connect with the presenters. At in-person events, you get access to speakers and experts. You often have opportunities to sit down with industry experts at lunch, round table discussions, or one-on-one consulting sessions. The input received from asking specific questions in person gives you an edge you can’t get from a virtual event or online seminar
Though online technologies and social networks are critical to the way we work and have opened up countless new opportunities, we’re still human. Whether we’re working out problems with a colleague, closing a sale, or networking, better rapport is established in person.
When we talk about social media and building our personal brands, we usually refer to Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter. But the majority of the people in our network are the people we email on a regular basis, and sadly we forget that our email signature is at least as important in building our personal brands as our Tweets.
Having the right amount of information in your email signature is important. After your name and contact information, you can add your social media handles. The general rule of thumb is no more than 4-6 lines of information. If you are using icons or logos for social media, make sure that your email signature is not cluttered with too many colors and images. Embed artwork so that your emails don’t appear to have attachments.
If you are promoting an event, alter your signature to include a link to the event site. Your email signature is not etched in stone and can be changed as your circumstances change. Of course, if your company has an email signature policy, you will need to follow it for your work email but there is nothing to stop you from enhancing your personal email signature.
Look at your email signature: could it use a make-over? It’s the one thing everyone in your network sees, even the people who don’t check Facebook on a regular basis!
According to the International Spa Association’s (ISPA) 2011 U.S. Spa Industry Study,
spas increasingly are making efforts to connect with their local communities — 69 percent of them by holding events at their facility,
The report, conducted by Pricewaterhouse Cooper shows that:
In addition to hosting events, many spas are raising their profile by donating products and services (85 percent) and by participating in charity benefits (62 percent).
Day spas comprise a significant majority of establishments (79 percent); resort/hotel spas comprise the second largest segment (9 percent), with medical spas a close third (8.7 percent). Other spa types include club, mineral springs, and destination spas.
The Northeast maintains the largest portion of spas with 25 percent while the Southwest region holds 23 percent of spas. The vast majority of spas (74 percent) are single location operations (i.e., not affiliated with a franchise or corporate headquarters).
The study indicates Americans are going to the spa more often and this fact has led to revenue growth. The increase in revenue is in line with the moderate pace of growth in the economy. Measures taken by spas to increase business included offerings through websites, special values and promotions, social media efforts, and connecting within their local communities. The economic recovery pace could not maintain the number of spa locations, resulting in a three percent decrease in the number of spas. Employment in the industry grew, but the lack of qualified therapists in the market is an underlying issue the spa community has been facing for several years.
For more information, visit: http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news//4053213.html
Promoting your event on Facebook is no longer optional. Making the most of the opportunity is important. Here are some ways it can be done.
First set up a Facebook page for your event.
When promoting your event, post a link to your Facebook page on your website. You can also opt to integrate the actual Facebook Widget on your website so people can see who is “Like-ing” your page and yout page can even feed your latest posts directly into the widget. You’ll definitely notice a significant impact in the increase of “Likes” after Facebook is integrated.
Make sure that you upload an appropriate profile image and utilize the space to its full potential. Try using a vertical banner image that contains all the necessary phone and web details to your event. When choosing colors, make sure they match and are limited to 3-5 different colors within the image.
To make it easy for Facebook users to register and/or to purchase a ticket for your event, provide a direct link to the page where you are selling tickets online. Make the link attractive and visible so that your attendees will easily be able to buy tickets for your event.
Re-use the same page for every event. When you’re creating a Facebook page and actively promoting it, you’re essentially building a list that you can market to (in some sense it’s like an email database). So you should make sure that your page can be utilized for multiple events in the future!
Facebook has proven over and over that it is an effective event marketing tool. It reaches a broad audience for potential event attendees. Don't waste the opportunity!
I have been thinking about how I could weave the use of QR codes into an event strategy and realized the possibilities are endless. For context, a QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The information encoded can be text, URL (web address) or other data.So, here is my first stab at a list of functional reasons why you should use QR codes for your next event:
Reason #1: An electronic conference brochure — On a press release, event poster, marketing video, email blast, promotional products, or even a Twitter/Facebook post include a QR Code with a link to a downloadable PDF brochure.
Reason #2: Create a Link to Conference Website –Use any of the channels identified above to distribute your link to prospective attendees. If your event registration and/or housing process is online you can post links to these locations as well.
Reason #3: Conference Handouts — Post a QR code on the screen in the meeting room and participants can scan whatever the session handout into their smartphone.
Reason #4: Post Event Survey/Evaluation — Once again, post the QR code for link to the evaluation form on the session screen, and attendees can immediately provide feedback regarding the session they have just attended.
Reason #5: Media Access — provide access to links for event music, video archives or pictures via a QR code.
Reason #6: Share Contact Information — speakers, or exhibitors can post a QR code with their electronic contact information and attendees can scan it into their smartphone’s contacts database, or email it to a friend/colleague. Attendees can exchange contact information with one another by scanning QR codes embedded on their phones.
These are just a few examples of how you can use barcode technology to enhance the event experience for your attendees. Also, I should mention that QR codes are just one of several barcode based tools available. Another tool you should take a serious look at is Microsoft Tag.
The copy you write for your event promotion has never been more important, whether that copy appears on the web, in a social media vehicle, or in old-fashioned direct mail. People are bombarded with opportunities and competing for their time has become more challenging. If you examine your competitors’ promotional copy, you’ll probably notice that more and more, they are missing a critical component of well-crafted event promotion copy: the call to action. What do you want your prospects to do?
Too often the copy forgets to provide an answer to that time tested question: What’s in it for me? And don’t forget, after you tell your readers (1) what you want them to do and (2) what’s in it for them, tell them one more thing: (3) this is how you do it, whether that means a link (that actually works!), a phone number, a sign-up Facebook page—you get the idea.
Don’t leave anything to chance. Give specific directions and develop an incentive for prompt action: a discount, a premium item that is valuable to your prospect. Make sure that your event tops your prospects’ lists of priorities.
Exhibits at trade shows are a strange breed. The best spots generally go to companies who have long track records for exhibiting at the show. Frequently these are not only premium floor placements but also the larger exhibits. So what's a first time exhibitor to do when you're stuck in a less than desireable spot, can't afford a mega-booth and need to make contact with attendees? The answer is promote, promote, promote your presence in advance. Think about it: the average trade show attendee doesn't know that space 2301 is a less desirable space than 231--or vice versa, depending on the hall. Before the show, the trade show is an even playing field. Create social media buzz before the show opens; social media, for all we hear about it, requires work but little cash outlay. Create a special e-newsletter to send to clients and prospects that are already in your data base, and if show management has captured pre-registration email contacts, the value of that list is definitely worth whatever the price.Get on the phone and call hot prospects or people you certainly wish to see at the show. Even if you leave a well-scripted voice mail message, you are raising awareness. Consider spending the money on a 'room drop'--a special invitation delivered directly to attendees' hotel rooms. There are many ways to connect before the show that are only limited by your imagination!
It seems that every day a new study comes out telling us that it’s virtually (pun intended) to plan an event without planning a social media strategy. This emphasis on building a social media strategy can be daunting if not downright intimidating. Here are a few things you can do to build awareness for your event; they’re easy and pretty intuitive if you’re like most of us who are familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
1. Create a Facebook page for your event. This is the page where people hit a “like” button so that your event updates are posted on their Facebook pages. For optimal exposure, use this with an event page that issues an invitation.
2. An event page on Facebook, besides giving all the relevant details, issues an invitation to people. You can add people to your event page and incorporate a link to a site, such as EventBrite that allows people to sign up and pay fees in advance. See the January 2010 issue of Successful Meetings for more on-line registration resources.
3. Post the event to your LinkedIn groups pages. (You do belong to groups, right?) You have pre-established communities already interested in your field. You can also post the event to your own LinkedIn page and generate enthusiasm among your contacts, but specific groups give you a head start.
4. Start to Twitter by creating a hashtag for your event. Then promote it and encourage others to promote your event via Twitter, particularly if they plan to attend your event. Pre-show promotions via Twitter offering some sort of incentive, like reduced fees, work very well.
5. Be sure that you include your social media links on all your pre-event promotion as well as on your event website.