If you own or operate as a business, you are already aware of the importance of your brand. You might have even spent hours agonizing over the perfect logo, tagline or color palette.
Your brand encompasses everything you are and that distinguishes your business from your competitors’. It showcases the unique way your business solves your target customer’s problems.
The same goes for your events. You are not organizing events just to fill up space in a calendar. You have identified a specific need in your target market and are creating this event to answer that specific need.
So, in a world where people are overwhelmed with information, where events seem to pop up every other day, how do you make sure your event stands out? How do you create a value-based narrative, a compelling story in which the hero is your attendee? And how do you disseminate that story to an appropriately broad and targeted audience that it will resonate with?
In other words, how do you increase brand awareness for your event?
There are plenty of ways to showcase your event’s personality, and we are going to share some of the most effective ones with you.
In this post, we outline some tried-and-true marketing tactics to make your event brand stand out as well as a few less conventional ways to communicate your unique value proposition.
What is Brand Awareness?
Simply put, brand awareness is the perception of your brand by your audience. Building and increasing it is one of the best ways to make sure your target customers know you exist and understand what you offer.
Why Should You Care About Building Brand Awareness for Your Event?
A strong event brand is the perfect vehicle for delivering your unique value proposition. Giving your event its own ‘personality’ will attract a certain type of audience – i.e. one that identifies with you, your values, and what your event is about.
A strong event brand also helps to make an event memorable provided that you reinforce your brand promise onsite. If you manage to create a highly recognizable event brand by consistently meeting your audience’s expectations, you can turn your event into a must-attend affair.
Needless to say, you need to craft your brand carefully and develop a multi-channel strategy to build awareness.
6 Strategies for Increasing Brand Awareness for Your Event
Create a Website Dedicated to Your Event, Not Just a Landing Page
The event website may very well be the first introduction to the event for most attendees.
As such, your event website needs to be ready in the early stages of the event preparation, sometimes months before the actual event takes place.
A key advantage that a full website has over a mere landing page is the many avenues for creating community it affords. Your blog will furnish your audience with things that add value leading up to the event, which they can share to generate more interest in your event. It can act as a hub for all your social media engagement, both by linking to all of your accounts in a central place and also possibly through a feed of social media posts.
You might even add a forum so your attendees can get to know each other and discuss your event (or other issues, which you can subsequently use to help your theme and topic ideation).
Because your website is usually the first thing that comprehensively communicates your brand, you need to pay extra attention to the way your fonts, graphics, logo, colors, etc. all work together to create a consistent impression. Use it to set the tone for the rest of your attendees’ experience with you.
- Make your website part of the story.
Your website can help convey your unique value proposition and be a true experience unto itself. Make sure that you reinforce not just your differentiators, but your core values in your website messaging and event highlights.
Consider your attendee’s journey and how your event helps them through challenges or personal development. Then, use the website elements to reinforce that thematically. For example, check out what GitHub did for their GitHub Universe event. As an event that promises to serve a community of developers, their website was designed to appear like a code editor, with a black background, white text, and similar font.
- Add value to the attendee journey.
To truly make your website a valuable step in your attendee journey, make intelligent use of the layout to help prospective attendees navigate into the registration flows that pertain to them.
If you have different categories of attendees, use large widgets on the homepage or pop-up prompts to help them self-categorize, and then show them relevant information accordingly.
- Get to the point.
Short attention spans plague marketers, and your website needs to grab attention quickly. Use compelling high-resolution graphics and short videos to communicate the core value propositions of your event rather than making your site visitors read a lot.
Use Email to Build Expectations and Keep Your Attendees Informed
66% of event planners reported email marketing as the most effective event marketing tool, just behind social media.
A newsletter to your mailing list is a standard first step in raising awareness about your event, but you may also benefit from continued communication leading up to it. In addition to maintaining a blog and publishing valuable content regularly, you can keep your audience posted on the preparation of the event itself, including updates about speakers and sessions.
- Segment and target.
It’s unlikely all your subscribers will be interested in the same content at the same time, so segment your list and target your email campaigns accordingly. That way, you can provide relevant information to the right people. [/emb_list_item][emb_list_item]There is nothing more annoying than to receive an email that is completely irrelevant to you. Don’t forget to segment based on the stage of the registration process people are in to avoid sending unnecessary follow-ups or inappropriate next-steps to the wrong people.
- Try A/B testing.
You may need to experiment with different email subject lines and different messaging. Isolate a small group of recipients and send half one version and the other half another version. Track the success of both campaigns, and use the more successful of the two for the rest of the email list.
For more advanced tips, check out this article.
Create Valuable Content to Motivate People to Engage With Your Brand
Creating content that will appeal to your specific audience takes time and resources, but it can be a worthwhile investment in the long run and a powerful tool for building a relationship of trust with your audience. It is an ongoing process, not a one-time strategy.
The best content informs and educates your audience about subjects that matter to them. Consistently delivering value online will position you as an authority they can trust to deliver value at your event.
- Team up with influencers.
Partner with industry influencers and publications to gain credibility and access to their audience. Why not write a few blog posts for a trade magazine on topics that relate to your event?
Partnering with others will also alleviate some of the burden of producing constant content yourself, and influencers are masters of content production and promotion. Be sure to take notes as you’re pitching ideas back and forth, as you may find a gem of a topic in the discard pile.
- Make the most of user-generated content.
Engaging in a dialogue with your audience and giving them a voice can definitely improve their perception of your brand. Moreover, allowing your brand and event to evolve with your audience and the discussions you’re having with them will help you remain relevant and choose topics and personalities they will appreciate.
Engage very active or insightful members of your audience on social media and facilitate discussion; feature guest and opinion pieces on your blog or social media accounts; create a forum for your audience to interact with each other and your brand. These strategies could help build your event’s public image even further while providing some insight into what your audience expects.
At the event, encourage your attendees to take pictures at your event and share them.
Harness the Power of Social Media
According to a study by EventMB, 73% of event planners believe social media to be the most effective tool for marketing events, with Facebook being the most effective platform for event promotion, followed by LinkedIn.
Your social media presence should be strong and aligned with the branding of your event. The trick is to create highly shareable content that your audience will be more than happy to like and redistribute to help you increase your event exposure.
A great way to make it easy for your audience to find you is to create a hashtag that is easy to type and remember.
- Focus on trending content.
Social media is perfect for trending posts that can be produced more regularly than more evergreen content. Most platforms (including Facebook) allow you to post longer-standing content that people can refer to over and over again, and ‘story’ content that you can use to keep people engaged in the moment.Something funny or interesting happens at your office? That’s a story. Having coffee with an influencer and want to feature a topical ‘impromptu’ discussion. Again – story territory. These will appear in your followers’ feeds, keep you top-of-mind, and generate a sense of FOMO around your account.
- Be consistent.
Social media can be used to increase brand awareness at any stage of the event, but consistency is key. To really use social media at its maximum capacity, create a social media calendar and prepare a little bit so you have something of interest to post every day or every other day.There are also tools like MeetEdgar that are designed to help you manage a regular social media calendar, allowing you to set up posts and images that just get recycled at regular intervals.
- Incentivize interaction.
Before the event, find creative ways to get people engaged. Run a contest that rewards people for sharing and generating hype with the opportunity to win a couple of free tickets.
- Keep up the momentum.
After the event, share and repost pictures and videos of the event on your Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or even Instagram. Social media is an ideal way to leverage public-generated content to keep the momentum of the event going well beyond the last day of the event itself.
Create a Mini Pop-up Event
While pop-ups are more commonly created for the retail industry, they can definitely be used to spike the interest in your brand and upcoming events. Pop-up events are usually highly ‘Instagrammable’ and provide even more opportunities to spread the word about your brand.
- Make sure that your event delivers value and speaks to your core brand values.
While it may be tempting to follow the B2C paradigm and create a spectacle, your mini-event should focus on the value your larger event offers. If you organize an annual medical conference, your audience is going to appreciate seminars and suppliers more than flamboyant keynotes and celebrity endorsements. As always, be sensitive to your brand’s audience.
- Use it to reach future clients.
Mini events are a great way to reach a broader audience, especially if you set them up as satellite events to your main conference. You can host them in neighbouring metropolitan cities to give other markets a taste of what your larger conference will offer. But you can also use them to make some of your services accessible to those who might not be in a position to attend the larger conference at this stage in their growth.Salesforce, a leader in B2B customer relationship management (CRM), hosted a ‘One-day Growth Extravaganza for Small Businesses’, allowing local entrepreneurs, Salesforce experts, and small business suppliers to come together to discuss business opportunities.
For small business owners and entrepreneurs who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to spare the expense or 4 days for Dreamforce, this one-day event gave them access to some of the benefits of the larger conference. It also helped the brand by showing them real value and potentially helping them to justify the larger event earlier in their growth.
Take Advantage of Physical Spaces
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is a powerful way to reinforce your branding and generate significant buzz for your event. While it has traditionally been used for larger conference events, focusing on physical spaces that our target audience frequents can provide great exposure for events of any size and any budget.
Obviously, these tactics are more suitable for public or semi-public events, like festivals, concerts, and B2C trade shows, etc. than corporate, private, or niche B2B events.
Research your target audience to determine where you will get the most exposure and foot traffic. If you’re advertising your highly-specialized conference on cloud computing, you’ll get a better ROI in business centers than in the local mall. On the other hand, if you’re advertising a rock concert, your target audience may be found on the roads in the evenings.
- Use digital billboard advertising.
Billboards represent an advertising channel traditionally reserved for B2C events. But their natural exposure to high volumes of all kinds of audiences means you can capitalize on witty or clever advertising to get people chatting about your event in general.Companies such as Blip help event organizers to use digital billboards that make it a lot easier and cost-effective to run billboard campaigns. They are easy to set up, can be updated in real-time, and are budget-friendly.
Because people need to be able to read what’s on the billboard quickly, your ad will need to be visually interesting to catch the attention of commuters. The brevity of the exposure and the fact that the audience is driving when they view it means that it’s important to highlight the event name and core value proposition as concisely as possible. The goal is to give passers-by the snapshot needed to generate interest and enable them to search for more information later. And remember: a picture says a thousand words. With a descriptive picture on your digital billboard advertisement, you can likely limit text to just the name and date of the event.
Keep it simple, clever and direct to maximize your brand awareness.
- Use attention-grabbing props.
Installing props in the appropriate environment can definitely attract a lot of attention. Giant photo frames at a photo booth are a great way to use props to encourage people to share as well as get engaged.They are definitely photo-ready and you can use them to display all your event details. You can easily set them up around trade shows for your attendees to have a little fun (source Go Go Social).
These OOH tactics offer a different take on event advertising. While you may be used to tracking the customer journey from start to finish with digital marketing campaigns, there are still reliable ways to substantiate the value of advertising in a physical space:
- Monitor search and website traffic once your OOH campaigns go live. This is particularly effective when other promotional tactics are consistent, so you can isolate OOH as the variable.
- Use campaign-specific vouchers, coupons or codes for OOH marketing in places where people will dwell long enough to snap pictures of them or write them down.
- Direct people to the event website using a trackable link communicated through a QR code.
- Conduct a mini-survey (how did you hear from us?).
- Monitor ticket sales. An increase in ticket sales in the weeks after your campaign goes live can also be an indicator, but again, you will want to make sure other advertising campaigns are held constant.
And, if you need more ideas on how to increase your event brand awareness, EventMB team has a great article for you here.
There is a lot of competition these days for people’s attention, but it is simultaneously getting more important than ever to get your message through and set your event branding apart.
Diversify the ways your potential customers get acquainted with your brand. The wider your audience, the more leads. The more they engage with your brand, the more likely you are to convert them.
The tried and tested methods we highlighted in this post should provide a solid basis for your marketing efforts. Common digital marketing components like engaging websites and email campaigns are essential to your brand awareness, but don’t discount the value of advertising in physical spaces when it comes to maximizing your reach. Contact Blip now to try digital billboard advertising for your next event.