Attendee Marketing That Doesn’t Suck

Evan Shubin is President of, Inc. and Exhibitor Invites LLC.  To learn more about him, click here.

Every show manager would like to increase the number of qualified attendees that attend their events, but that is easier said than done.  Nowadays, with travel budgets tight and time out of the office scrutinized, you must make a compelling case to convince prospective attendees to spend the time and money to come to your event.

Here are some ideas that might help:

Create an Integrated Campaign with Uniform Messaging
Make sure that all the different channels you are using – e-mail, direct mail, advertising, your web site, social media, etc. – have the same visual “look and feel” and contain the same messaging.  Obviously different channels lend themselves to different approaches, but every outreach should feel like it is part of the same family.  This is the best way to strengthen your brand – by putting a uniform message out there every time you touch prospective attendees.

Track the Results of Every Single Outreach
Every marketing method is now trackable, if you are willing to put the time and effort into designing your campaigns accordingly.  Be sure to work with your registration company to create a set of source codes that will allow you to identify exactly which campaign prompted each attendee to register for your event.  However, keep in mind that getting someone to register is often a result of multiple touches over time and through different channels.

Test and Test Again!
We can’t always predict which campaign is going to be the most successful, but we can adjust afterwards.  Use the 10-10-80 method: send campaign A to 10% of your list, send campaign B to 10% of your list, and then send the one that gets the best results to the remaining 80% of your list.  This method takes more work and requires more advanced planning, but it has the potential to generate significantly better results.

Create Compelling Campaigns
It isn’t enough anymore just to list the conference sessions, the exhibitors, and dates in your attendee marketing pieces, and then sit back and wait for the registrations to come in.  You need to convince people that it will be worth their time and money to attend your event.  Remember that all attendees come to face-to-face events for three reasons: to see the exhibitors, to learn, and to network.  What is most important to your community?  What makes your show a “must attend” event?  Don’t be shy – spell out all the key benefits of attending in your messaging!

Personalize Your Campaigns as Much as Possible
Different people have different reasons for choosing to attend your event.  You need to approach them with messaging and visuals that describe the features and benefits that are most important to them and impact them emotionally.  The more personalized your messaging, the better results you will get.

Get Your Exhibitors Involved
Your exhibitor community is busy year-round selling products and services to their customers and prospects.  Many of them keep extensive CRM databases, and those databases are full of excellent attendee prospects for your event.  Get them involved!  Give them an incentive to invite their customers and prospects to the show.  There are many different ways to do this, including our Exhibitor Invites.  Whatever method you choose, invest the time and money to make sure it is used extensively by your exhibitor community, and don’t forget to track the results.

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