There's an old marketing strategy that lately has been helping more and more entrepreneurs and business owners grow their companies. And I used it myself a few months ago and am starting to do more of it.
This strategy is event marketing. Which simply means holding events. Events, particularly when they are physical (versus online workshops or webinars) are very powerful. Particularly in today's internet/virtual age, being able to meet your customers, prospective customers, partners, investors and others face-to-face is very powerful. And much more so than simply email and telephone conversations.
Below I discuss several types of events you can hold, and how to get maximum publicity for them.
Importantly, companies of ALL sizes can hold events. And, they can use them to get lots of free publicity.
What kind of events could you organize (or even just attend) and mention in your PR efforts?
Here are a few that just about any business owner or entrepreneur can do:
- Set up a workshop teaching something about the problem your product or service solves
- Business dinners
- Golf tournaments
- Networking events
- Product launch parties
- Holiday parties
- Customer appreciation parties
- Happy hours
- Seminars for your team or the public
- Charity functions
- Exhibiting in, sponsoring or speaking at a trade show
- Exclusive VIP events for your top customers
Note that even if you don't have office or retail space, you can hold an event. Simply find some other firm that does have space, particularly if that other firm would benefit from it. For example, if you are a consultant, find a law firm that will allow you to use their office space. The law firm would benefit from exposure to the same customers/prospective customers you serve.
Once you've chosen your event and scheduled it, the next step is to get the word out. Here are several free methods you can use:
1. Event Websites
There are several popular websites such as Meetup, Eventful and EventBrite that show visitors a list of local events in their area. Announce your event there, which includes giving the description and details, and some visitors will find it and contact you (or just show up).
Make sure to include everything someone would want to know before making a decision to attend, because it's harder to get people to leave the house these days or attend an online event. Have a compelling call to action and a way to register or RSVP (online or by phone) in order to build a contact list as well as firm up attendance.
Also, the pages you create by announcing events on these sites are search engine-friendly, which means that web searchers may find them searching the internet before the event. They may find it years later, too, and if your contact information is there, consider it a free advertisement for your brand.
2. Local Event Calendars
In addition to these nationwide websites, there are often community calendars and directories that will allow you to submit your activity or event.
Try googling "your city" + "event calendar" to see what comes up. You may find a few websites dedicated to events in your city. Check out the sites' rules to see if it's free to add your listing, and how to do it.
Also, make a list of local newspapers and magazines and check to see if they post upcoming events in the community. Most daily newspapers have one that they publish on the same day every week. Magazines have them in every issue, but you may need to announce it to them 2-3 months ahead of time.
See if the magazines also have event calendars online. The publication itself or its online version should tell you how to submit an event to announce. If not, call them and ask to speak to the person in charge of the events calendar.
3. Social Media Event Marketing
Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to set up events and announce them to your contacts there. This is an additional avenue of reaching your customers (and the press, if you have connected with them already).
The simplest way is to click the "Create an Event" feature on these sites, and copy and paste the description of your event used in the methods above. As you can see, the core strategy here is announcing your event in as many places as possible.
4. Local Broadcast Media
Call your local newspaper reporters and TV/radio stations and let them know about each event. Make a handy list of 10-20 reporters/journalists in your area and you can complete the calls in an hour or two. Or use email or fax; or a combination of these formats.
Nowadays it's fairly easy to visit the websites of these stations and publications to get the contact information of the reporters/journalists you want to target.
Finally, make sure to take plenty of photos at each of your events. This will help you get more coverage now (reporters will write about the outcome of your event) and it will help you with promoting future events.
These 4 methods are simple and easy while maximizing your return for the effort that goes into putting on a great event. This return includes, among others, improving your relationships with existing customers, securing new customers and partners, and getting lots of free publicity.