We recently rolled out a new service at Indigo Marketing Agency to help our clients get the word out about their events. Through the process, I tested a variety of event marketing strategies and chose the most efficient and cost-effective options to incorporate into our Event Marketing Package.
As it turns out, while many advisors stress about filling up their events, getting RSVPs is simple if you follow a tried and true process. Here are my ten foolproof steps to fill up your next event:
1. Start Marketing Early
Ideally, you should start your marketing plan about two months before your event. I have filled up events for advisors in two or three weeks, but it tends to be more stressful and disjointed. The best event marketing strategy is planned ahead of time with plenty of time to up the ante if you need more RSVPs as the big day gets closer.
2. Set a Schedule
I recommend at least three emails highlighting each event: Save the Date, Register Now, and Last Chance to RSVP! We see about 10% of our responses come after the “Save the Date” email, then about 50% from the “Register Now” email, and about 40% immediately following the “Last Chance” email. Sending in waves allows you to eliminate the last email if your event is full, or add another email to the end of the series if needed.
3. Create an Online Registration Page
About 70% of our RSVPs come through the online registration pages we create, with the other 30% from either email RSVPs or phone calls. It’s critically important to have a registration page with the event title, a graphic, a short teaser featuring the benefits of attending, and the details. Even when we print and mail invitations, about 50% of those RVSPs come through the online registration page.
4. Design a Catchy Email Invite
Be sure the email invitation you send includes a compelling subject line, headline, graphic, teaser, and an easy-to-see RSVP button to allow people to register quickly. Cluttered or poorly designed emails can hurt your click-through and RSVP rate. Include photos from a past event so folks can remember how much fun they had last year or worry that they’ll miss out on the festivities. Highlighting any special guests or expert speakers helps pique interest. Here’s one example.
5. Use a Facebook Event
Leverage your Facebook company page by creating a Facebook event. Then, invite your clients and prospects using the Facebook “Invite” feature. Guests can RSVP directly through Facebook and may invite their friends, depending on how your set up your event. Finally, boost your Facebook event to get more exposure to people in your area. You can even do a “Facebook Lookalike Campaign” to promote the post to people who are demographically similar to the people you invited. It’s fascinating and it works!
6. Promote on LinkedIn
Be sure to share the link to your event page on LinkedIn as both a publication, which will notify everyone in your network, and as an update to get more RSVPs. You can also send outbound messages to folks in your network inviting them to attend. We typically see a response rate of about 10% to these messages, so it’s worth your time to personally invite qualified prospects, key influencers, and referral partners.
7. Cross-Pollinate with Partners
Sharing the expenses and responsibilities for your event with a partner is a great way to decrease the cost and double the exposure. If you’re working together with another firm to host an event, make sure they are actively promoting it by email and on social media. Even if you’re hosting the event on your own, ask partners and referral sources to share your email invitation with their network. Cross promotion is important to increase your audience and get fresh prospects in the door.
8. Consider Mailing a Paper Invite
For an important event that you aim to maximize, there’s no substitute for mailing a paper invitation. Emails can be skimmed and forgotten in a second, but an attractive paper invite that sits on a client’s desk or kitchen counter begs to be answered. Budget $2 per invite for printing and postage and expect a 15% to 30% RSVP rate.
9. Use a Calling Campaign
If you are serious about getting the max attendance for your event, one necessary evil is a calling campaign inviting your contacts and asking if they’d like to bring a friend. It’s time-consuming but effective, especially with older clients and prospects. As an add-on to our Event Marketing Package, we make outbound calls for $100 per 30 contacts.
10. Double Check Your Event Title
I worked with one advisor who really wanted to call his event “How working with top money managers can improve diversification, lower fees, and improve investment outcomes.” He had an amazing location and agenda lined up, but we were having a terrible time getting RSVPs. We changed the title to “Cocktails and Investment Secrets” and it was sold out in no time. If you’re struggling to market your event, take a look at your title and make sure it sounds interesting, beneficial, and fun.
Event marketing is a numbers game, and marketing your event is the same way. If you’d like to get 30 guests to attend, you should plan to start with an email list of about 300. On Facebook, we see 2-5% of invitees actually RSVP. On LinkedIn with a direct message, about 5-7% will RSVP. Paper invites and phone calls can double your response rate for a given segment. The easiest way to get more people to RSVP is to send to a larger audience, so get creative to gain exposure by email and on social media.
Try our new Event Marketing Package to take these steps off your plate and fill up your next event. The process includes each of the steps listed above, with the cost of printed invitations, postage, and phone calls at an additional charge. The package is $350 per event and current Indigo Marketing clients save $100. To learn more, click here!