Preparations for your events begin well in advance and every event planner knows how many arrangements must be made before they even advertise – scheduling, choosing a venue, catering arrangements, the works. With so much effort involved in a single conference or seminar, disappointing attendance figures can be a complete disaster. The trick to securing those guaranteed delegates is to make sure they prepare nearly as far ahead as you do; to do that, you need to get your engagement and marketing strategy right from the early stages to make sure attendees sign up well in advance.
Choose your advertising carefully
It goes without saying that you need to advertise where your event will be seen by the right people – those who will be interested in the topic and who will add value to discussions and networking opportunities you offer. Advertising in the wrong places could give a misleading impression of what to expect, attracting people to whom the event might not be relevant and putting off those who should be the most interested. You need to choose where you promote your conference or seminar carefully – look at trade websites and social media groups for professionals in your industry. These options have the advantage of being free, but you could even consider advertising in trade publications, provided your budget allows for it.
Make registration simple
Ideally, the delegate should be able to go from reading an advert to booking a place in as few steps as possible. This means that your marketing materials need to make where and how they should book tickets clearly visible – online, the easiest way to do that is with a prominent link to an event registration system. When you design the booking form, keep the number of clicks between booking and payment to a minimum.
Early booking is best for everyone. Not only does it mean event planners get ticket revenue sooner as well as a sense of numbers, but it allows delegates to make arrangements and plan their schedules effectively. To encourage prospective attendees to sign up earlier, you could even offer an “early bird” discount as an incentive.
Using an online registration system makes it far easier to keep track of numbers and delegate details, because all the data is automatically captured and stored in one place. EventHQ even integrates seamlessly with all of your third party systems like membership databases and mailing lists, eliminating the need to export data from one to another. This means that both reporting and targeting are much more straightforward.
Preach to the converted
The best place to start when promoting your event is among the people to whom you know it will be relevant. So start with what you know – send out email newsletters to delegates who attended previous events. Contact existing customers and membership lists, as well as other professional bodies and trade associations.
Because you already know something about these groups, you can usually identify whether they might be interested – and since they’re familiar with you, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to say. For example, a legal firm might advertise a seminar on a new aspect of employment or health and safety law to the businesses in their client base, or charities might send fundraising information to participants in previous campaigns.