With twitter boards, RFID and live social media streaming made more accessible at offline events it has become nearly impossible to separate online and offline marketing. And, that’s a good thing. But for those of us who can’t afford fancy gadgets and don’t have tech sponsors, is there still a point to involving the online world?
Broken down, social media can be incredibly effect marketing for three important elements when regarding offline events: Building buzz, selling tickets and following-up. Below why it’s important for small business owners & entrepreneurs to be syncing their online marketing campaigns to their offline events.
Building Buzz. Yes, we all hear about the stories of those special people who post videos and receive over a 1 million views in 48hrs –But how do they do it?!? The first step towards any marketing strategy is messaging. Building a strong, coherent and identifiable message is crucial to every campaign. Once you have this, you can determine your audience. Launch an online campaign at least four months before your offline event to build buzz and excitement. Plan out your interactions months in advance so all your material is ready to go. Make your campaign as interactive as possible (for ideas click here) and boost your awareness with media seed money.
Selling Tickets. Depending on the kind of event you’re organizing tickets should be released anywhere from 3 months to 3 weeks before the event. Make sure you create strong messaging in your invitation that answers the WHY. As in, why should I come to your event? Why should I spend the money? Why is this valuable to me? Conduct strategic email marketing campaign through phases i.e. first the invite, raffle & surprise guest announcement, one day only ticket sale, bring a friend for free campaign etc. Again, make sure to plan your email marketing campaign weeks in advanced so it is scheduled and ready to launch.
Onsite. At the event, make sure you have a designated social media manager (even if this is your best friend) so they can keep the conversation going online while you greet your guests in-person. Your social media manager should post interactive updates and questions through out the evening and constantly ask your public for their feedback & advice. If possible, include a live stream or shoot a couple videos welcoming your online community to the event as well. Make them feel included in the evening.
Following-up. Getting feedback and sending thank you’s is the most important part of any event. Yes, the most important. Making your guests (both online and offline) feel appreciated for their presence and participation will not only gain you positive feedback (testimonials, survey questions, quality test etc.) but will also help grow your business through referrals and word-of-mouth. Make sure you prepare your follow-up emails or survey to be automatically sent out the day after the event. If you were running a workshop, think about following-up a little later (3-5 days) to see how your workshop has effect their personal or professional life. Encourage honest feedback and don’t shy away thanking a customer even if they give you a negative review. Take it with a smile and think of it as a learning experience.
To not integrate an online component to your offline event will cost your brand awareness, money and potential future clients. Take the time necessary to create a thorough marketing calendar and you’ll be surprised at how effective the results will be.