My personal motto is to find the best way to do something, and then find a way to do it better. A huge part of being able to do your job better is knowing how the marketplace for that job is changing. Event planning is one of those markets. What used to be a fairly independent niche is now considered as a core part of an overall marketing director’s responsibility. Whether the two are fusing because it’s smart to merge departments to cut overhead costs, or because their end-goals are so parallel, the fact remains that most marketers don’t know the first thing about event planning.
Event planning has changed from a decade ago where simply factoring in logistics was enough. Today, the event marketing planner (perhaps a whole new species of marketing superstars) not only needs to do his/her job, but s/he also needs to be one step ahead of the curve by knowing the savviest trends. Far from just a fad, these trends are quickly streamlining into standard event marketing practices:
Apps – There’s a saying “there’s an app for that.” These days it’s pretty much true that there’s probably an app for anything you’re trying to do. In fact, when it comes to event planning, there are apps specific to tradeshows and conferences – the juggernauts of events. Under the umbrella of all-encompassing apps, you’ve got job-specific apps tailored for any number of specific needs. You simply need to run a specific search to find a plethora of options.
While we’re on the subject of software, I recommend keeping an eye out for Google’s “Project Tango,” a mobile device meant to revolutionize event marketing.
Contests – Nothing brings out people’s enthusiasm like a contest for a worthwhile prize. In a post titled “5 Ways Marketers Can Use Instagram,” Social Media Examiner recommends asking “users to use a particular hashtag for the contest by tagging their pictures…[and] ask other people to vote for their favorite pictures and pick a winner.” Unified hashtag use will make it effortless to find the images by various account holders.
Email Marketing and SMS – Email marketing is still really big when it comes to following up with registered attendees and guests. You can take it a step further by also sending out text messages to guests, particularly useful for last minute changes.
Photography – Of course you’ve hired a photographer, but do you have a step and repeat backdrop or some other way to encourage branded photo ops? A blog post by Fonteco titled “3 Ways Photo Activations Amplify Events,” cited how “social media photo activations provide a unique and effective means for brands to get their logo and messaging out both digitally and physically.” Offering creative inspiration, the post mentioned how “logos and messaging can be added to a photo kiosk, the screen, a step and repeat, a hashtag, and the photo frame/overlay.”
Influencers – Never underestimate the power of influencers. Influencers are thought leaders who are nothing short of celebrity for their industries. When you offer an influencer in an event, you’re not only adding star power that encourages attendance and buzz, you’re also offering guests the value of association by presenting an opportunity to rub elbows.
Most event planners will look at the event marketing landscape and select from among the various options available to them. As a rule of thumb, you want to streamline event planning and marketing processes as much as possible so you’re not reinventing the wheel each time. This would include creating a systemized approach toward launching event pages, and promoting/selling tickets. The trends offered in this post can be cherry-picked in some cases, while in others you can use the principle but adapt the specifics so the application is unique to the event. For example, a kiosk and a step-and-repeat might not always work though you do need to offer a photographer and include a prestigious publishing platform so photographs have some value when published online or in a magazine.