When planning any event, the first step is determining your audience. For some companies, this may be a no-brainer. For others, this may require some work to build out personas and understand who the right target is to invite. The second, and more challenging step is figuring out how to get your audience to actually show up for your event. Given the number of emails and marketing messages people are bombarded with on a daily basis, it can make for the quite challenge. Here are 3 easy ways to increase event attendance:
1. Create relevant content
I think this one is a given but it’s not always something people focus on first. Ask yourself: what is your message? Why are you bringing this group of people together? What is the biggest takeaway you want your attendees to remember when they leave? Make sure you have a clear, concise agenda, and don’t try to pack too much into a short period of time. Keep it brief and relevant to your audience!
2. Incentivize your guest
Everyone loves free stuff and people go CRAZY for swag (believe me, I’ve seen adults fight over the last t-shirt at a trade show). Tell your guests what you are giving them in the invite, it could be as simple as a branded water bottle or a moleskin notebook. I recently attended an event where they were giving attendees pairs of custom selected Maui Jim sunglasses (which could run you $125-$150 per person)...needless to say, people were pretty pumped to be there.
That said, you can just as easily and effectively save on budget by offering them something you already have. Invite your guests for an exclusive preview of a beta product coming out next month, or offer 3 months free for a new service you’ve just launched. Not only will your attendees feel special, you also get them using your product and providing crucial feedback. Whatever it may be, letting your guests know beforehand may be that extra push to get them in the room and increase your chances of closing more deals.
3. Pick a desirable time and location
Even on a budget you can find great space for any event (we can help!). When choosing a space for your event make sure you pick somewhere that is centrally located to your guests, and is either well known or a new spot that people have been wanting to try. If your location is the audience driver, make sure to put that in the header of your invitation. A subject line like “Join us for an afternoon at Row 34” sounds a whole lot more appealing than “Event invitation from X”... not that any of us would ever do that! If you happen to work in a pretty nice looking, spacious office, you may even be able to host on-site and spruce up the place with unique catering, fresh flowers, and company swag.
As for time of day, there are really only 3 options: before work (1 hour event), during lunch (1 hour event), or after work (no more than 2 hours). A 2 pm event wouldn't make much sense and would cut right in the middle of the work day. Be sure to account for an extra 30 minutes on both ends of your event for set-up and in case you go long!
After you wow your attendees with a spectacular event, make sure they remember it. Follow-ups are just as important as the invite. Keep attendees engaged with thoughtful, personalized content, and a relevant call to action. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be timely (1-2 days after the event at most). The follow up is no less important than the invite and event itself, and will help you build stronger relationships with your customers and future customers.