One of the biggest marketing mistakes I see is people putting on an event for marketing without examining whether they actually need one. When you don’t have a clear marketing strategy, events can be a huge waste of time and resources. Yes, it’s true that events are important for marketing but there’s no point in having one unless you’re ready.
Don’t know if you’re ready? Keep reading to find out.
Events are important for marketing only if you have a strategy
If you’re doing an event for the sake of having one or because everyone else seems to be doing it, STOP. Use that money to buy ads instead or to hire someone to sit down and do your marketing properly.
Think about why we have events in the first place. Events are gatherings with a purpose, and if the purpose is marketing, then you need concrete goals. Your event should create a brand experience and/or sell products or services. And this should be part of a larger marketing strategy that leads up to the event and provides post-event services to make sure that you don’t lose the momentum and goodwill from a successful gathering.
Here’s a typical event for marketing that is often done without a real strategy behind it: book readings/launches. Many authors have written about how sparsely these are attended, and it’s no wonder. Does anyone actually look forward to going aside from the authors (and even that is questionable)?
The marketing around book readings often seems to be limited to a sad poster in the bookstore and posts on social media begging people to attend. None of them provide any compelling reason why someone who doesn’t know the author should show up. Instead, the marketing leads people to expect that it will be boring and attended by a clique of writers who have poor social skills. If you can’t compete against pizza and Netflix, you are in trouble.
Don’t hold an event for marketing if there’s no anticipation
Do you know how to predict whether an event for marketing will be successful or not? If at least one stranger isn’t anxiously planning their wardrobe for it, then it’s going to be a flop.
I have to confess that it’s a pet peeve to me when people come up and say that they got a lot of positive feedback about their event and thus it was a success. Compliments are nice but they’re not useful. How I judge the success of an event afterwards is by the complaints. If people are angrily complaining that they couldn’t get in, you know you’ve had a hugely successful event.
Back in my music industry days, I once had to crawl under a garage door with my colleagues because a showcase we held ended up being at full capacity. We had to turn away hundreds of people from the door, and they ended up rioting and destroying part of the venue. The irate venue owner tried to chase us down during the riot, and we had to hide behind boxes, quietly pull up the garage door by a couple of feet and escape. For days afterwards, we fielded complaints about the showcase and that’s how I know it was a successful event.
An event should be used as a reward or payoff in your marketing strategy, a way to create a live connection between you and your audience/clients. It took us more than a year to build this marketing through singles, competitions, media features, street teams, and other activities that made sure that we emphasized what the band’s brand is and what people could expect from their show.
Events for marketing should be about the audience experience
If your event is all about you and not what would make your audience/clients excited, it’s not going to succeed. I often see businesses holding anniversary parties but make it all about their accomplishments. This is not only boring, it’s also rude because you could have the best products but it’s your clients who make your business a success. Anniversary parties should be used to thank clients for their loyalty and support, and they should be focused on the clients’ enjoyment.
A good example of audience-centered events are Mina Esguerra’s romance book reading parties. They may be the only book readings that people actually look forward to because of how memorable and fun they are. (I should also mention that they are part of a greater strategy that includes teaching, workshops, and community-building, among other activities.)
What Mina does is gather together fellow romance writers, and they hire good-looking actors to act out thrilling scenes from the various books. There’s lots of alcohol, food, and screaming from the audience, and inevitably, many books get sold at the end of the night.
I also previously worked with a furniture brand that wanted to introduce a new line of chairs at an event. It took a lot of persuading before they gave up all the boring speeches they had planned, from the director all the way to the regional manager.
Instead, to show off the ergonomic nature of the chairs, we ended up having a wellness-centered party where people got massages or oxygen therapy as they sat in the chairs. People went home with coupons for free trial lessons at yoga studios, a bottle of detox juice, and a really good experience with the chairs that linked them to comfort.
In conclusion, on behalf of people who dread being dragged to yet another miserable event where we are subjected to someone’s ego: rethink your events. Aim to create an occasion that is so awesome that people will be angry they’ve missed it. Just make sure that garage door is there.