Don’t you know that as of 2021, there are at least 32.5 million small businesses in the US alone? These small businesses account for 99.9% of all businesses in the US. With so many small businesses trying to attract customers, it is imperative that you step up on your marketing game.

What is Event Marketing

Team building

One of the major struggles for startups and small businesses is having a limited and tight budget allocated for marketing campaigns. That’s why choosing the right marketing strategies that will work best for you is a necessity.

Event marketing is one of the small business marketing strategies that can be effective to reach customers, efficiently controlled within a budget, and also useful for establishing relationships with customers.

According to Instapage, “Event marketing is a strategy marketers use to promote their brand, product, or service with an in-person or real-time customer engagement.” Events can be done online (virtual event) or offline (live event) or a combination of both.

What Sets Event Marketing Apart From Startup and Small Business Marketing Ideas

Small marketing team in meeting

There are a lot of marketing strategies out there for startups and small businesses. The most common tactics are email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and digital marketing. And all of these are effective and each one has its own benefits.

High-quality content like blog posts reaches a worldwide audience and generates consistent traffic to your website. It generates a lasting return on investment (ROI) without spending too much money. On the other hand, social media marketing also has a wider reach and visibility. Your promotional posts and content can reach all types of audiences irrespective of their demographics. It is also a low-cost advertisement. However, there is greater customer engagement with social media.

So, what’s the edge of event marketing? Event marketing also has similar benefits to the ones mentioned above. Events can attract and connect with a global audience (online and hybrid events). Through events, you can share relevant and valuable content. However, the power of event marketing lies in its ability to deeply connect and engage with participants.

Events, especially in-person events, allow you to personally engage with your customers. You can talk and listen to them in real-time. And this will result in the strengthening of business-customer relationships.

Through events, your business can create a lasting impression on your target audience. It allows you to attract and gain new customers. And as you deliver a quality experience to them, you’ll easily retain these new customers.

Why Should Small Businesses and Startups Invest in Event Marketing

Strategy for marketing

Events can do so much more for your small business. The following are the reasons why you should invest in event marketing.

  • Build brand awareness

Events are the best way to introduce your brand to the world in the most creative and fun way. Events easily create buzz and attract people. Through events, you can introduce new products/services, and present demonstrations.

  • Maximizes customer engagement

Product launch events, trade shows, seminars, conferences and other corporate events are where you’re in closest contact with your target audience. You can personally engage in conversation with your customers and vice versa. Customers can directly ask questions or voice out suggestions.

  • Increase customer retention and promotes brand loyalty

When you create a memorable and fun experience, new customers will most likely avail of your products or services. Furthermore, memorable events provide lasting impressions and will turn new customers into regulars. In fact, according to a study conducted by EMI & Mosaic, “70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event.”

For old customers, events will encourage brand loyalty.

  • Strengthens relationships

Business is all about people and the relationship you build with them. Events create the perfect opportunity to build and strengthen your relationship with your customers. Strike a conversation with them. Making sure that they are heard and noticed will help you earn their trust. Plus, their recommendations will help you improve your business.

  • Expands your network connections

In order to grow your small business, you need to establish connections. Participating in trade shows and hosting your own events will introduce you to peers and vendors. You need a community that will help you make wise decisions, provide you with tips, and help you gain customers. Furthermore, these partners will also connect you to valuable people who will be a great help in the future.

  • Generate sales

Events don’t only bring in new customers but they will bring in paying customers. According to the Jobs in Marketing Report, “52% of business leaders named event marketing as the biggest driver of ROI.” Furthermore, as reported by Writers block live, “85% of people are more inclined to purchase after attending an event.”

Eight Event Marketing Tips and Ideas

Start your event marketing campaign by applying these effective marketing tips.

1. Always Start With a Clear and Smart Goal

Goals overview

Every marketing campaign and event planning starts with clear goals. You need to define what your success should look like. Goals are necessary to keep your every move on track. By doing so, you prevent wasting any money, time and effort because everything will be accounted for.

Your goal for your event may be to raise brand awareness. Or it may be gaining a specific number of customers. Or you might aim to establish connections and expand your business networking. Whatever it is, make sure to lay it down for the whole team to follow.

2. Do Enough Research

Launching out your event marketing campaigns may be scary especially if you’re a first-timer but having thorough research will help you know what you’re doing. Here are some of the things you need to be searching on:

  • Your target market – Who are the people that you can help through your product/service? How can you identify users you know will love your product? Knowing your potential customers is the core of every business. You can achieve that for example by using a WordPress quiz plugin and making online quizzes to understand what your customers expect from you and your service.
  • The types of events your target audience would like to attend – Events are majorly for your target audience. Therefore, knowing what they like should be on top of your research list. What types of events appeal to them?

Furthermore, you should also research the competition. The key to successful marketing is knowing what everyone has already done and making it better. Try to see the past events local businesses did in your area.

What made last year’s tradeshow a hit? Which booths, tables, activities, or speakers were a hit? Make sure to know the latest trends in event marketing so that you’ll not be left behind.

  • Your competitors

Know your competition. In order to stand out from the rest, you need to strategize to outcompete your contenders. Find out how they launch their event marketing campaigns, the vendors they’ve commissioned, the venue, the theme of their events, or maybe they’ve invited some well-known personalities or influencers.

  • The connections you’ll be needing

Connect and reach out to the people you’ll need as early as possible. Research their values and goals so that you’ll know how to align with them.

3. Sponsor Local Events in Your Community

Hosting your own event might be too costly for your small business. However, you can still increase your visibility by sponsoring some local festivities and events in the community you belong to.

This is a great way to introduce your brand without spending too much money or spending none at all. You can provide monetary support but you could also sponsor without spending a dime. Offering your products, services or your place as a venue, is also a form of sponsorship.

Search for some of the annual festivities happening in your local city. Get to know some nonprofits and NGOs and get to partner with them. Research shows that businesses that engage in philanthropic causes are more successful than those that don’t.

4. Leverage the Power of Social Media

Social networks

Social media is important for business marketing. According to a report done by Aventri & Little Bird Told Media, 96% of event organizers and event marketers use social media event marketing to increase awareness about their events. If you want people to find your event, social media is the place you need to be.

Keep every attendee connected and updated by using your social media before, during and after the event. You can post teasers and sneak peeks to build excitement. There are also a lot of tools you can use like a countdown timer in Instagram. This will set as a constant reminder and will elevate the hype as the event draws near.

Social Media becomes more valuable when you partner with a local influencer to market your live events or virtual events. Influencer marketing helps you in a variety of ways.

  • Broadens your reach – First is that influencers, like social media influencers, help you reach more people. When you collaborate with influencers, you are able to connect with their followers. This will broaden your reach. Furthermore, hiring an influencer which belongs to your niche will help you target the right audience.
  • Builds and improves your brand credibility – Another benefit of influencer marketing is that it helps improve your brand credibility. What sets influencer marketing from traditional marketing strategies is the intimate interaction it creates.

Influencers build connections and relationships with their followers. People trust them because they are experts in their field. People listen and value their opinions. Once you have their backing, you’ll easily get the trust and support of your target audience.

  • More engaging promotional efforts – Influencers can build and elevate the pre-event hype. They can share footage and vlogs on some behind-the-scenes preparation. They can even do Facebook, Instagram or Youtube live with you to talk on the things your attendees can expect from the event. You can even do some mini-contests on social media.

5. Attend Other Events for Connections

Networking is necessary for small businesses to grow. Event marketing is not only about hosting your own event but you can also attend big events like trade shows and seminars. This will allow you to connect to industry leaders, peers, clients and customers.

Trade shows are a perfect opportunity to pitch some potential business partners. In addition to that, you can personally check the competition. You can learn some effective strategies your competitors did and more valuable information that you can only get in these events. You can brainstorm right there and then and formulate ways on how you can improve your business.

However, you should not forget to target customers and clients. With this in mind, make sure that your booth stands out from the crowd. Think about the layout and location of your booth. Make that it can easily be seen and located.

6. Invest in Event Technology

Add plugins

Events can be extra overwhelming especially if there aren’t enough people to help. And this is true for small businesses and startups. Free yourself from any extra workload from managing your upcoming event by investing in some event management technology like a WordPress event registration plugin.

Plugins like these will help you manage your event from start to finish. It will help you set up your online registration by helping you create registration forms. Potential attendees can register online right at your event website.

You can sell unlimited tickets and receive payments through secure partners like Paypal, Stripe and Apple Pay. They can also pay through credit cards. Using this technology, you can track ticket sales to monitor your event ROI.

When you avail event solutions, you can save valuable time, energy and money. You can then focus on more important things.

7. Engage in Guerilla Marketing

According to Bizzabo, “Guerrilla marketing is a cost-effective marketing strategy that uses unconventional and inventive tactics to get exposure for a product or brand.” It maximizes your marketing efforts without spending a penny. However, though very promising, this type of marketing requires a lot of creativity, skills and team communication.

Some examples of how major brands got the attention of the public using the most unconventional and hilarious ways include the GoldToe dressing New York City statues in their t-shirts and underwear. The most hilarious part was when they clothe the famous wall street bull with an oversized white brief.

You can also apply this kind of method in event promotion. If your business is about food dogs, then you can create chalk graffitis on the steps of your community park. Or you can do a flash mob of people together with their dogs. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks!

8. Personalized the Experience

Hello sign

Events are only powerful when they are memorable. This is how you measure event marketing success. And this can only happen when you personalize the experience for your target audience. Design the event with your event attendees in mind.

Just as simple as addressing them by names in your emails will make a great impact. You can make personalized name cards or place cards for them. Make sure to document your event. Post photos on your social media. You can even mention them. And at the end of the event, you can opt to make a video montage. That will definitely appeal to the heart.

Above all, your event design itself should match their tastes and preferences. What are they interested in? What types of content do they want?

Conclusion

Event marketing strategy is a great method to grow your small business. You don’t have to spend much on your events. You can try sponsorship or you can attend big events like a trade show. In a summary, here are some event marketing tips that will ensure event success:

  • Always start with a clear and smart goal
  • Do enough research
  • Sponsor local events in your community
  • Leverage the power of social media
  • Attend other events for connections
  • Invest in event technology
  • Engage in guerilla marketing
  • Personalized the experience

You might not get it the first time, but oftentimes experiences are more valuable than the goals themselves. Enjoy the process and grow as you learn. And one day, your marketing effort will pay off as you transform your small business into medium size.