“Show Me” Marketing Strategies to Boost Attendance and Loyalty

marketing strategiesPost authored by Harby Tran, Director of Marketing

Last week, we explored why “Show Me” Outperforms “Tell Me.” If you missed this post, give it a read, as it provides more context for today’s deeper dive.

Images are powerful “Show Me” magnets to weave into your event marketing plan.

An image, like the photo above, helps potential attendees envision the valuable exchanges and encounters they’ll have at your event. With education and networking ranking as the top two reasons why people attend professional conferences, this photo packs more punch around those two triggers than a paragraph of text ever could.

With that said, it’s important that your messaging and visuals align with where event guests are in their own journey.

Our parent company, Maritz Global Events, has studied each step in the event guest journey and identified eight phases where your event brand promise must be in lock-step with what matters most to your guests.


Here’s a look at how these eight phases might come together under one overarching organizing principle.

We will be talking about three of these phases today—those attached to the Pre-Event stage of the guest journey that zero in on attendance acquisition.

  1. The Announcing Phase
    During this first phase, the focus is on capturing guest attention as you share a preview of the experiences and encounters they’ll enjoy at your trade show. Launching email campaigns, where each message builds on the previous one, will help you gain attention momentum. Be sure to highlight what differentiates your event from others they might be considering.
  2. The Attracting Phase
    At this point, it’s time to woo your audience and seal the deal. Dialing up FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and layering in testimonials will go a long way. Often, it takes a half-dozen or more touches to get the fence-sitters to commit. With more executives delaying travel commitments, consider playing the scarcity card (limited time or limited supply) to increase decision urgency.
  3. The Anticipating Phase
    Now, it’s time to stir up excitement about the live event while easing any snags or disappointments guests might encounter along the way. This phase can last for days or weeks, but it’s crucial that each touch aligns with where the guest is on their journey. During this phase, you might suggest workshops or a VIP reception to add to an attendee’s registration. Encouraging guests to download the mobile app early on opens up even more promotion opportunities—for you and for your sponsors. Did you sign on a new keynote speaker? That’s a “show me” update that’s perfect for video, where the speaker might share a sneak preview. According to Forrester, emails with video tend to earn 200-300% higher click through rates. Research by Forbes revealed that 59% of executives would rather watch a video than read text.

Here are five “Show Me” categories that boost event attendance in these phases:

  1. Show Me You Know Me
    Creating personas for each targeted segment will help fine-tune your messages and offers. There are a number of ways to segment your prospect list: (1) by industry; (2) by role; (3) by years of experience; (4) by geographic region; (5) by attendance history. “Show Me You Know Me” success rests squarely on personalization, backed by accurate customer data. If you’re not capturing and analyzing behavioral data (what are guests actually doing once they arrive at your event?), tackle that first, because attendee expectations for personalization are rising fast.marketing strategies
  2. Show Me Like-Minded People
    Knowing “Who Else is Attending?” ranks high for many executives. Capture testimonials and be sure to include photos, or better yet, videos. Decision delays are a big challenge for many events, but providing a glimpse of the talented people they might meet should help speed up decisions. Consider adding a time-bound incentive: “First XX people to register by DATE will be invited to a private reception with…”
  3. Show Me Something New or Special
    For some shows, there’s a tendency to run with the same game plan year after year. Your die-hard loyalists are onto that efficiency step and your event’s becoming more predictable. While we’re hardly advocating large-scale changes in one fell swoop, introducing new elements each year helps to refresh the experience. As for special, what differentiates your show from the dozens of others they’re considering?
  4. Show Me You Care
    This one can play out several ways. It might be highlighting charitable works funded by your foundation. It might be a charitable project, where attendees band together to make a difference locally. Applying a different spin on this, it might be “Show me you care about ME.” What creature comforts are you providing? A comfy lounge? Strong Wi-Fi? Some fancy food and a hot drink served in something like these promotional mugs? Discounts on shuttle rides to/from the airport? First-timer onboarding? Mentor matchups? Sponsors are often quite eager to support these extra-care touches.
  5. marketing strategiesShow Me Happy Endings
    What business performance improvements were advanced by your event? What new things did they learn? What new ideas did they discover? What new solutions did they test out? What new leads did they capture? Who did they connect with? How did your show help your guests improve, personally or professionally? It’s the one “show me” value point with maximum impact potential, yet it’s the one that’s most often overlooked. Be on the lookout for happy endings while you’re onsite, so you can capture a few more of them to share next time.

Want to know more about how to incorporate all eight phases into your event? Click below to download “The 8 Phases of a Successful Event” eBook.

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