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Tips for promoting a customer event

I hate that feeling, just before a party, that nobody’s going to come. It’s even worse with a customer event, because you know there’s not even going to be any beer to attract them. So having committed to a customer event, what are some of the ways in which we can maximise the number of people who turn up?

Of course, number one is to charge for the event. The more you charge, the more likely it is that people will actually turn up. However, I’m talking here about free, sales-related events.

Start by setting a realistic target of how many attendees would make the event a successful one. There’s often a bit of target inflation while organising these things, as new ideas present themselves. Although the original plan was only to get 15 people along, over 100 expressed an interest, so you allow 50 spaces, just in case, and before you know it, an attendance of 20 is considered disappointing.

Target the right people, and you can be comfortable sending them several pieces of information to promote the event. Use too broad an audience, and you’ll start worrying that you’re irritating them. Is there something very relevant to the event, and free, which you can distribute by request from the outset, generating a primary audience of prospects?

Schedule the event around the audience. If you want to attract people from a distance, don’t have a 9am start. I’ve often appreciated events where the organiser has said: “Arriving on the 9.12 train? We’ll have someone to meet you all at the station.” Note how in a single message, they not only made attending seem like it would be easier and cheaper, but planted a further degree of commitment in my mind. Somebody’s going to be meeting me? I’d better turn up.

Make registration as easy as possible. An online yes-please form is fine to start with, but don’t be too intimidating with asking about complicated requirements through forms unless you’re dealing with many hundreds of attendees. It can be better to arrange things on a one-to-one email basis.

Finally, brainstorm the whole marketing schedule from the outset. You don’t want someone to remind you with a week to go about a marketing channel you’d forgotten. Incentives for early registration can get things off to a good start, and to keep those people interested during the buildup, think about what you might be able to send them to increase the anticipation.

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