Event marketing for entrepreneurs is an art form. To effectively promote, whether an in-person or online event, takes creativity and planning. If you’re not willing to invest time and resources, you won’t see the payoff in leads generation, increased brand awareness, or other ways that you’re measuring event success.

Begin by having a clear vision of the purpose of the event. Identify your audience so you can market specifically to them. Hosting a business expo isn’t as specific as hosting a small business expo targeting local small business owners seeking to grow their business through marketing. In the former, you could have a variety of speaker topics and vendor industries. In the latter, the expo has a specific target for speaker topics and vendor industries. You’re attracting a specific audience to your event.

Pre-event marketing is as important as attracting speakers and vendors. You could have a room full of vendors and speakers but if no one is there to listen, what’s the point. Just as you have an overall marketing strategy (and if you don’t, call me), you need an event-specific strategy that includes the following:

  • Press releases
  • Social Media
  • Blogging
  • Newsletter

Take the overall event theme and develop a plan for sharing information about the event. For example, if in week one you’re seeking vendors and speakers, make that the message across all marketing – press releases, social media, blogging, and newsletter. I guarantee no one is looking on all platforms; they’re watching one or two and ignoring the rest.

Post live social media updates from the event. Share pictures, interview attendees, host a contest, or post quotes from speakers, creating an online buzz for the event. Use an event-specific hashtag. For example, I am following #mprofs today to learn best practices for content marketing. Even if they cannot attend in-person, it’s important for customers to experience the value of your event.

Don’t Disappoint: Whether you know it or not, people are watching you or your brand on social media. They’ve bought into your event promotion. When the event happens, and customers or prospects are following on social media and see almost nothing about the event, it’s disappointing. It makes them have less faith in your brand. They are less likely to recommend you to someone else; they will wonder if you’ve failed at promotion, what else will fail at when they are your customer.

Close the look on your event by providing post-event marketing. Offer something special to attendees such as a discount to your next event or a free download of event presentations. Use the event as a springboard for additional content across marketing platforms – press release, blog post, newsletter, and social media.

Most importantly, follow through with leads. This is essential to measuring event success. If you have 500 attendees and don’t make a sale or generate a lead, was the event worth your effort? Probably not.

It’s an art form to develop and implement an event marketing strategy. What are your event marketing ideas or best practices? Share in the comments below.