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Marketing

Entrepreneurs, Here Are the 5 Ways to Throw the Best First Event Ever

Make a good impression at your first event and you'll keep your customers coming back for more.
Entrepreneurs, Here Are the 5 Ways to Throw the Best First Event Ever
Image credit: Caiaimage/Martin Barraud | Getty Images
- Guest Writer
VP of Marketing at Bluewater Technologies
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every business leader loves it when a marketing event goes off without a hitch, but the momentum shouldn’t end when the last guest leaves. Statista reports that 79 percent of marketers in the United States use events to drive sales. Events give a brand’s personality a platform to resonate with attendees.

Take Bud Light’s 2015 “Up for Whatever” campaign. The Anheuser-Busch brand used a festival-like atmosphere -- including performances by Snoop Dogg -- to attract Millennial consumers and encourage them to share their experience on social media. As Bud Light’s vice president Alex Lambrecht put it, “We want to reach more than the 1,000 people that are here.”

But companies selling a physical product aren’t the only ones that can benefit from event marketing. The Detroit Lions, a client of ours, turned to event marketing earlier this year to make sure the launch of the team’s new jersey went off without a hitch. That meant a massive lion head presiding over the stage, players hosting, cheerleaders performing, fog machines filling the stage, three vertical screens showcasing the team’s legacy, and a full lights and pyrotechnic show to accompany the unveiling of the new jerseys.

Related: How to Market Your Brand Through Live Events

Wow everyone the first time around.

Events don’t come with a rewind option -- a successful first event means the hosting company and audience alike will be eager for the next event. When a first event falls flat, the team behind it is likely to pull back and either avoid investing entirely or -- worse still -- cut corners in an effort to save capital. For many companies, events are the biggest area of marketing spend. In its Event Marketing 2018 Benchmarks and Trends report, Bizzabo found that the majority of companies devote between 20 percent and 50 percent of their total budget to hosting events.

Ensuring this investment pays dividends is critical to future buy-in and success. That may be why 63 percent of the event marketers Bizzabo surveyed are putting more resources into hosting live events. Businesses following suit to maximize visibility and lead generation from the very first event should keep the following tips in mind:

1. Communicate every step of the way.

Whether sponsoring a bag drop at a trade show, sending an email to a customer or employee list, or filling social channels with chatter about the event, it’s crucial to do just that: Talk about the event. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Bizzabo reported last year that marketers spend only 10 percent of their budgets on marketing for an event.

Social media is a great tool for keeping event marketing costs down while maximizing awareness. Creating awareness early on and building up to the event day will ultimately drive traffic. This gives any company time to dazzle existing and potential customers with its passion, excitement and hosting abilities.

2. Provide live updates during the event.

Once the event has started, social channels still play a vital role in visibility and attracting more traffic. In today’s digitally focused world, it’s fairly common for event attendees to be monitoring the event’s hashtag just to keep up with what’s going on. In fact, Event Manager Blog reports that 60 percent of people with smartphones use them when at events.

Related: How to Create a Live Event That Spurs Social Buzz

For events in line with a brand activation or a pop-up shop, social posts that leverage local hashtags can spread the word about the destination experience that everyone in the area should check out. It boils down to this: Providing content or commentary can help bring attention to both the event and the company behind it.

3. Bring the right personalities.

Bizzabo found in its 2018 event marketing report that 95 percent of marketers find live events to be great opportunities to form in-person connections. The context of an event will determine which types of personalities should be on deck. If the aim of the event is sales, more outgoing personalities are probably the right call. If the event is more about a product demonstration or sharing knowledge, an engineer is going to be needed.

Not everybody fares well in social settings -- remember that. A marketing event planner may be great with logistics, but she might not be well-suited for helping out on the day of the event itself. So make sure to choose the right person to be present on the day of.

Related: How to Network Effectively at Events

4. Follow the framework: content, space and technology.

Content is the most important element of an event, followed next by the details of the space or location of the event, and finally, the technology being used to amplify the message. As with Bud Light’s event, content is the core component of any event -- whether it’s video, text or images. Over the weekend of the “Up for Whatever” 2015 event, 37,000 content items were created. And only 50 of those were created by Bud Light.

The order of these three elements is critical to ensure the right message is being spread in the right place with just the right amount of disruption to capture everyone’s attention. Tech may be advancing and gaining attention, but most of the tech used at events is about increasing the audience’s awareness of the brand and its message. Event Manager Blog reports that 30 percent of event-specific tech created in recent years is focused on live interactions.

5. Keep it simple.

When the focus of an event is on capturing leads, the key is to keep things simple. Scanning badges, exchanging business cards or having attendees provide their info through a survey of some sort are all valuable ways of gathering info and capturing leads.

Make sure not to ask for too much info or create an information exchange that’s too complicated. Too much of anything will push attendees away from providing the information that turns them into valuable leads.

Event marketing presents companies of all sizes with a great opportunity for exposure and capturing leads, but there are no second chances for knocking the first event out of the park. Follow these five tips to ensure your event is unforgettable -- in a good way.

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