Let's talk about the amount of people at your events. Are you content with the amount of sold tickets? Without participants there would, of course, be no event at all. It is, however, just as crucial to get a one-time participant to fall in love and keep coming back to your events, as it is to establish the initial connection for their first event experience. Remember the EX, aka Event Experience; that's where it's all at!
1. Catch and hold their attention prior to the event
Broadcast some kind of sneak peek before your event. Share information about your speakers/performers and the different themes and major talking points of the event. Give them tasty morsels, but don't reveal everything yet! Having at least one surprise up your sleeve is going to come in handy later, when you're busy maximizing the EX.
Share images and video clips from previous events (Choose your social media poison according to your target group!) to create buzz and give a taster of what they can expect from the next one. When your participants-to-be see and hear for themselves what your event is about, they're more likely to attend.
2. Liaise with media and your partners
This works especially well for public events, but can be implemented if you just want some extra attention for your occasion, too. Send the local media a tip-off and, more importantly, contact your partners and/or sponsors regarding a joint marketing effort.
A few lines in the newspaper gives off a very professional je-ne-sais-quoi, and is likely to even attract attention outside your immediate target group. Your partners may have extensive networks of useful connections, so it's worth asking if you could benefit from that as well.
Consider mailing lists, Facebook pages and groups on LinkedIn. Return the favour by allowing your partners to market their products or services at your event.
3. Keep the conversation going
Twitter isn't just for kids and celebrities. It's a superb platform for discussion with and among the audience during an event. Create a Twitter account for your event and start tweeting well ahead of the event. Establish a #hashtag and encourage people to use it both before, during and after the event.
You could, as an example, engage the audience during the event by having them tweet questions to the speakers with a designated hashtag. Pairing this with a tweet screen in the event location is very engaging.
On top of creating and sustaining conversation, you might actually need to reach out to your attendees regarding urgent matters during the event. Maybe there's been a change in the schedule, or maybe you simply want to surprise a select few of your guests with a VIP promotion. Make sure your event management software packs a feature that will enable you to do so!
4. Don't stop communicating when it's over
Remember to thank all your participants with at least a post-event email message. It is also a great way of collecting feedback from the audience, simply include a link to a short online survey in the email.
A complete run-down of the event makes for great content, so make sure you write about it thoroughly in your chosen medium. Don't forget the photos and video clips! This content will come in so handy when you start marketing your next event.
5. Flaunt your past victories
Was your previous event a total success? Make sure you tell your future participants! Emphasise the highlights of your past events as a reminder for those who attended back then. Share the same information with prospective participants on social media.
Think of a way to get participants from the previous event to share their experience and tell the world how awesome it was. It's not bragging if someone else said it!