The Secret to Successful Event Planning - Episode 7

Whereas when you are roping in potential sponsors your approach would have been face-to-face, the promotion and marketing aspect demands a totally different strategy. For one, the logistics are different. With sponsors, you would probably be talking to 3 parties at most. Marketing demands that you speak to a much wider audience, which means that you cannot expect to be able to see or speak to all the people concerned.

Promoting and Marketing your event

Whereas when you are roping in potential sponsors your approach would have been face-to-face, the promotion and marketing aspect demands a totally different strategy. For one, the logistics are different. With sponsors, you would probably be talking to 3 parties at most. Marketing demands that you speak to a much wider audience, which means that you cannot expect to be able to see or speak to all the people concerned.

Not only that, to get a desirable result, you will need to repeat your message, based on research, at least 6, and perhaps as many as 8 times. Even then, you may not get the numbers attending that you ideally would want. Moreover, your repetition would have to be very subtle, and not look like you are going over the top.

Here are some effective channels of repetitive marketing that have been shown by the seasoned event-planner to get results:

1. Local newspapers: information sheets, adverts

2. Internet: E-mail, web site, blogs and chat rooms

3. Paper notices: Formal invites mailed, brochures, bulletin boards, postcards, a notice in a newsletter, posters, door-to-door leaflets, flyers on windscreens and handouts at networking events.

4. Radio & TV - Attention-Getter Marketing - TV Adverts are known to be louder then the show you happen to be watching. The reason for that is simple – it must stand out.

Think about how you can get your strategies to stand out from the crowd:

  • Open with a question - Try to make your question force the reader to take a second look, and then go on to read further. For example: “Are you suffering from any of these symptoms: excessive thirst, tiredness, etc – could your body be trying to tell you that these may be the signs of diabetes lurking?”.......then show how some people's lives have been destroyed by the disease.
  • A Call to action – to attend an event - Show what they can do to change the situation by joining in your event.
  • Offer a FREE gift or Trial - Show how, by attending the event, they can collect their free trial of a radically different and effective new treatment.
  • Morph your Images - Show a dog giving your message, but with human lips and teeth. There is currently a very effective South African Ad Campaign for a motor vehicle doing just that. Talented children, for certain aspects (don't overdo it) do get into people's hearts.
  • Use real names in your letters - Avoid, like the plague, phrases like “To whom it may concern.” Actual names are more challenging, and they have been shown to work better time and again.
  • Bold & colorful: Make your images bold, colorful and fun - Disney did it, daily newspapers have fun cartoons, so try to be different, but also relevant to your target market.
  • Create standout shapes - If you are planning an event which is connected to a from of sport, then your invites could be cut to suit. For example, if the sport is football...soccer, the shape could be round. Use your imagination here – there are an abundance of shapes

Logo Design - A logo can be a very significant attention getter, acting as a positive trigger to get the action you are looking for. It is rumored that the Mac Logo gets people to salivate! Having a logo professionally designed can be an expensive exercise. Consider investing in Serif's inexpensive, and very good DTP Software designed for this purpose, and many others. (www.serif.com) There are literally hundreds of built-in templates, and ideas which you can use to cater for what you are looking for – not somebody else's idea.

If you are not computer-literate, then consider these alternatives:

  • Ask your planning committee for ideas. Even if the members of your team do not have the answer to this one, they are bound to know someone who does.
  • Sponsor a contest at the local High School: Speak to the arts and crafts teacher, get them on your side to see what they think, and then offer a prize for the best submission

Homing in on your target audience - There are a variety of target audiences to consider, which could include:

  • Sports Contests
  • Fund Raisers
  • Social events
  • Academic presentations
  • Political Party Fund Raisers
  • Business Promotions

Sports Contests

  • Use a sports-related image – and use a timetable connected to an innings or a quarter
  • A tangible gift such as a T-Shirt with the sports-related motto emblazoned on it.
  • Past or present sports heroes or celebrities
  • Public posters put at strategic points

Fund Raisers

  • Use emotional material, such as pets in distress, orphans or cripples
  • Profile to recipients – especially if they are worthy in view of the effort they have made themselves
  • Photos, especially good ones, always attract attention and get a positive response
  • Emphasize the social aspect and the benefit to community life.
  • Avoid non-attendance by potential contributors – cater for those who cannot be there, but who may still contribute financially.
  • Appeal to the ego – tell donors that their name or company will be mentioned in the program

Social Events

  • Invest in posh Invitations – if you really want to give your son (or daughter of course) a memorable 21st birthday then consider: cream colored, gold engraved, foil-lined, heavyweight paper and envelopes.
  • Attire: For a really formal event, be clear about the dress-code being mandatory – e.g. no sports coats, only dress suits, no cocktail dresses, only formal gowns.
  • Menu: Cater for vegetarian and special needs, and dietary restraints
  • Cut-off date: Don't be overly perfunctory about the cut-of date for replies - in this instance it is far more diplomatic to give this sort of person a polite call.
  • Directions: Make sure you provide an easy-to-read map, with street names and a GPS reference for the folk who have a Garmin or TomTom

Academic presentations

  • Speaker Credentials – place an emphasis on speaker credentials, as this carries a lot of weight in academic circles.
  • Slot into the publish or perish mind-set - Hopefully your conference/event will feature experts in their field – if that is indeed the case, then make this crystal-clear. A high proportion of those invited will welcome the opportunity to gather material for their own planned papers and publications, by meeting experts in the field.
  • Emphasize the prospect of Networking - Most academics are confined to their campus during the academic year, so they are likely to value the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues from other academic institutions.
  • Highlight the Locale - Unlike some other professionals, a high proportion of academics seldom travel as part of their work. The answer is easy: stress the unique and special locale as your selling point
  • Invite their spouses - This will encourage attendance because academics sometimes use their vacation time to attend meetings.

Political Fund-Raisers

  • Budgets - demonstrate budgetary restraint – the party people responsible to their electorate for contributions, so over-the-top spending is not “politic”
  • Stick to protocol – with a cross-cultural event, and levels of authority, make sure cognizance is taken of of positions and preferences.
  • Cater for languages – If you live in a uni-language country, this is not an issue, but on the other end of the scale, South Africa has 11 officially recognized languages!
  • Emphasize travel-ease: Make access to the venue as central as possible, and accessible to all forms of transport. Car, train, bus, air, helicopter.

Business Promotions

  • Design and print a standard brochure – Modern DTP software makes this part easy for you to do it all yourself, or to delegate it to someone who you can trust.
  • Focus on Career development – Attendees want to come away from your event with a tangible result. Arrange for a continuing education credit that can be used at other gatherings in the future
  • Highlight unique and “just off the press” - business books with newly released scientific/technical discoveries – and draw a lot of attention to them.
  • Emphasize Rapid-Fire Event action – Make sure that people attending are aware that you are eliminating the potential yawn-factors, and do that by stressing a very tight time-based schedule.

Images by Courtesy of Stock.xchng

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Colin Dovey
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Beverly Anne Sanchez
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deepblue
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