I’ve organised multiple events and through my experience, I’ve learnt that there is only one way to market an event successfully, and that is through integrated event marketing. This article will focus on why integrated event marketing is essential and how to implement it successfully. In brief, integrated event marketing is when you use multiple platforms, free platforms and paid for advertising platforms to market your event. These platforms can include; print, radio, TV, digital including website, email marketing, social media and direct marketing. For a more detail description of integrated marketing click here.
Why integrated event marketing?
There is no other way for your event to be successful. Once you have identified your target audience for your event, you need to make use of platforms where you will find your audience. If you’re marketing a concert with Justin Bieber, you need to attract a younger audience, so you’ll focus your marketing efforts on social media platforms where teens spend most of their time, including Instagram and Snapchat. You won’t even consider LinkedIn or Facebook, because these are social media platforms where most teens and people in their early twenties avoid at all cost. Once you have their attention there, you could do some outdoor marketing at malls or activations at schools or entertainment areas, or pole advertising along the route of popular schools in the locality. By making the event seen in multiple places and therefore having multiple touchpoints where the audience reads or sees the same message or visual, your event becomes imprinted in their minds. Integrated event marketing is the only way to market your event.
Now that I've sold you on integrated event marketing, how do you do it right? Below I list some of the essential things you need to consider when adopting an integrated event marketing approach.
Below is a list of key elements you must consider.
1. Clearly define your target audience
I have seen people who market to everyone. As soon as they launch an event, they spew their marketing messages on any platform regardless of whether it is successful. An unclear target audience can cost an event marketer a lot of money. Many people make the mistake of having a very general description of their audience, e.g., women living in Cape Town. This target audience is not descriptive enough. A more descriptive target audience would be women aged 22 until 25 living in Cape Town, who are students at University, with outgoing personalities that enjoy the club or dance scene.
2. Have a clear overarching message or concept
Once your audience is defined, you need to know what your key message is for your event that will speak to your target audience. You need to have a concept for your event that you communicate across all platforms. You need a consistent visual and tagline so that people can identify your event. You will communicate differently on various platforms. For example, in a radio promo, you would need to stick to the what, why, where, and how as you have max 30 to 60 seconds to get your message across and attract your audience, you need to have a clear call to action. With a print advert, your visual will be important; it must be catchy and memorable. When you do outdoor advertising, your one-liner and visual must attract people’s attention immediately; your audience is driving pass quickly, whether in traffic or not, you don't have much time, the core message becomes essential.
3. Identify the key platforms predominantly used by your target audience
Once you know who you are selling to and you know the message you want to convey, you should have a good idea of how your audience stays informed. Now you’ll move onto step three of selecting the platforms. Instead of spewing your message all over the place, you will have enough information now to know where to concentrate most of your budget and energy. Choose the top three advertising that will undoubtedly reach your audience.
4. Assemble the right team or outsource
Without the right team, you won’t go very far. You need to look at the advertising platforms you’ll be using and assess whether you have all the knowledge, skills and tools in your team to successfully communicate on these platforms, connect with your audience and entice them to purchase a ticket/s to your event. You’ll do an internal assessment, delegate responsibilities to specialists and identify whether you might need to outsource some of the services you will require.
5. Be consistent
You need to develop an advertising plan for your entire initiative, which includes a timeline and key messages that you will communicate at each stage of the event plan. This helps keep you and your team on track and ensures that you can schedule ahead of time that will help you be consistent. Consistency means marketing your event at scheduled times, twice every week and once on the weekend and not having gaps in-between where people don’t hear about your event for an entire week or two. You need to keep your event top-of-mind and that means continually reminding your audiences about it. You will change pace based on the stage you are in marketing the event. During the week of the event or in the week that ticket sales close, you will precede this week with more intense marketing than before.
6. Be flexible
The plan you have at the start, won’t necessarily be the plan you have in the middle or end of marketing your event. You should measure your results throughout the process and be willing to change direction if needed and fast. Be flexible, honest with yourself and your team if things aren’t going as planned and decisive in changing course when necessary.
If you follow these steps when implementing integrated event marketing, your event will be successful. With integrated event marketing, it’s essential to keep your ear to the ground, listen to your audience and your team, and change when necessary. People are consuming advertising and information on multiple platforms, and we’re dealing with diverse audiences with different likes and dislikes. Therefore, event marketing is becoming complicated as always try and identify that common denominator that connects many people. Remember that event marketing is only one element of event planning, so it’s important to have a team you can trust, a team that specialises in their area of expertise and who remains focused so that you can be sure to tick all the other important boxes of event planning. I’ll write another blog post soon on the other important elements of event planning.
Let me know your thoughts on this blog post by commenting below. Tell me about an event you organised where you successfully implemented the integrated event marketing approach.