Using “New Event” Marketing to Promote Your Small Business

Organizing an educational event such as a seminar or conference is a great way to get out of the office and network with prospective clients and promote your small business within your community. However, a traditional event marketing format presents some challenges to small business owners, including the costs of putting on an event, creating buzz (“Not another breakfast speaker series”), being able to offer attendees value, etc. So how can your small business take advantage of the benefits of educational event marketing while minimizing some of the risks and pressures associated with putting on a successful seminar or conference?Two of the main challenges associated with event marketing include presenting an interesting topic/speaker and creating a format that holds the attention of attendees. To attract prospects to an educational seminar or conference and, more importantly, to make the experience memorable, your small business will need to present a format that offers the following:
Variety – different presenters (with different styles) make the seminar experience more interesting and adds value
Engagement – having attendees become part of the process is a great way to create a memorable experience
Value – What’s in it for your prospects? Will it be worth their time? Will they be able to learn something that can help them solve a problem?
A New Seminar FormatInstead of following a standard seminar blueprint i.e. one speaker talking “to” the audience, try mixing it up to create excitement and a lasting impression. Paul McMahon, a friend and colleague, introduced me to an excellent event marketing concept that could work for any small business. His one-day “roadshow” format blends an educational seminar with a mini trade show, creating a informative and engaging event for attendees.To illustrate how this new format might look in practice, I did some research and mocked up a 1/2 day event itinerary that could be used for my small business, Intersection Consulting:
8:30am – Complimentary Continental Breakfast
9:00am – How to use online marketing to grow your small business (Mark Smiciklas, Small Business Marketing Consultant)
9:30am – What is search engine optimization and how does it work? (Jordan Smith, Web Developer and Designer)
10:00am – Employee benefit options for small business (Rachel Jones, Small Business Benefits Consultant)
10:30am – Coffee Break
10:45am – Ask the Expert (Our presenters will be available to help address some of your small business challenges – feel free to drop by their table to ask questions or find out more about their services)
11:30am – Closing Remarks
Enlisting 2 strategic partners (offering services/products that compliment your target market) will help you minimize costs while facilitating diversity of content. By investing your time and providing a computer/projector for event presentations, the approximate marketing cost, based on 30 attendees, would be less than $300.00 per company. I know my target market would pay $30.00 each to attend this type of educational event, would yours?This is just one example of a new way to approach event marketing. Check out Seth’s blog for another great conference idea Start mixing it up to create something different for all the people attending your events – it will help your small business create a lasting impression.Other Event Marketing Tips
Make your event inexpensive to attend in order to maximize interest. The goal should be to try to cover your costs – look at this type of event marketing as an investment/networking opportunity and a chance to position your small business as a thought leader.
Select a small venue for your first event. Limited seating will help you sell out and create scarcity, assisting in the development of a good marketing message – “Only 30 spots available – this event will sell out fast!”.
Start promoting 6-8 weeks before the event date – soon enough for prospects to know their schedules and far enough out to minimize possible conflicts.
Send clear directions and email a Google Map link so attendees know exactly where the event is taking place.
Confirm registrations and send email reminders 2 weeks, 1 week and the night before the event.
Follow up with attendees after the event. If possible email an online survey to gain feedback on the speakers and topics and garner suggestions on how to improve future events.
Event marketing is an excellent way to raise the profile of your brand. Embracing new ways to put on educational seminars and conferences can help your small business create sales leads, develop a reputation as a leader in your field, build relationships with prospects and fuel new strategic alliances.