Event marketing is a great way to promote your business and a key part of many marketing campaigns. In fact, event sponsorship is influential enough that we've already touched on the topic before, exploring the benefits this kind of marketing can offer you. Like many other aspects of marketing, this kind of campaign needs to be done right. To help you understand common mishaps that can ruin your marketing effort — and see the ways to avoid them — we've listed eight ways to screw up your event marketing sponsorship and how you can go about preventing them.
1. You Aren't Prepared
This is painfully simple and equally devastating. In fact, this single point can encompass the rest of this list as well. Consider what it means if a patron wants to get information about your business, but you don't have materials on hand, and you don't have an organized way to gather their information to market to them later. Or maybe the patron will ask what makes your brand different or better than your competitors, but you aren't ready with an answer about what you offer and they don't.
How to avoid it: Think ahead, have a plan, and develop a little risk management. Have checklists on hand and team members assigned to handle certain tasks so that everything is taken care of before the event, leaving you ready to easily, and professionally, engage your patrons in a meaningful way.
2. You Don't Focus on Branding
Branding is the name of the event marketing game, and part of the reason you're taking advantage of events to begin with. Not properly branding your booth space and promotional materials at the event means your business will be less memorable. Hokey schwag like branded pens or cheap t-shirts are considered a staple, but they're probably not enough to actually do the amount of branding you’re looking for.
How to avoid it: Take advantage of tools that will attract patrons to your space, including banners and signage. Then take it a step further and think outside of the box. What branded items will be useful to a customer in a way that engenders a lasting, positive opinion? Are you doing something that will get some positive word-of-mouth rolling? See our tips on being memorable — that's the point of branding too!
3. You Aren't Being Welcoming
Think of your space at an event akin to how a storefront functions. If you, your team, or other brand ambassadors look bored or too busy to be bothered, or worse, look as though they'd prefer no one approached them, then no one will. It's going to affect how people perceive your brand and make it look like you're not ready or willing to do business.
How to avoid it: Be excited about the event and your brand. Actively attempt to engage patrons, and look happy about it. Even if you can tell they're going to walk right by, be sure you greet them warmly anyway. Try not to be seated, and have people outside or in front of your event space. You may even consider having team members mingling with the crowd and directing them back to your space.
4. You’re Not Doing Anything to Be Memorable
Your space can be well branded and your team welcoming, but that's not necessarily going to be enough to make patrons care or remember enough about your brand to remember you later. If you don't devote any time, budget, or effort into being memorable, than your brand will be mostly forgettable.
How to avoid it: Start at the core of your USP. Be sure that your staff is personable and engaging so that at the very least, the way patrons interact with your brand is memorable. Take the next step up and develop unique promotional materials or activities, which may include hosting a demonstration, providing a free sample, or holding a raffle or other contest. (The latter can be a great way to gather information, too.) Consider experiential marketing and determine whether or not there's any of that type of marketing that you can integrate into your presence at the event.
5. You’re Not Pre-Promoting
Assuming that the event itself is marketing enough is a quick way to undermine the opportunity the event presents. The event itself will have plenty of promotion, but chances are good, there's people who would have looked for your brand space specifically had you given them a reason to be there beforehand. Without promotion prior to the event, you may end up missing out on a lot of traffic that never realized you were there to begin with.
How to avoid it: Consider a short, multi-channel action campaign running up to the event. If you're running any special mini-events, such as exhibits, talks, or contests, make sure potential patrons and your customers or clients know that this is what you're doing to generate interest and word-of-mouth. Your media partner should be promoting the event in their own channels, and they should be able to mention your brand in the process.
6. You’re Not Following Up After the Event
What good is gathering information and making your brand memorable if you're not going to do anything with that opportunity? If you don't follow up, you're missing out on key touch points that contribute to the consistency and frequency that lead a prospect to becoming a customer. Otherwise, if you don't care about them after the event, they probably won't care about your brand either.
How to avoid it: At the very least, you should be sending a follow-up email 24-48 hours after the event that thanks them for being at the event and visiting your space. Provide them with ways to find additional information, like links to your site or promotional landing pages. You should be nurturing these patrons the way you would nurture other kinds of leads.
7. You Don't Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media is a prime channel to start a conversation and to keep one going. You can use it before the event, to follow up, and to continue engagement after the event, and just as importantly, use it throughout the event too. If you're not using social media, you're missing out on a ton of engagement and the very conversations that could influence the approach you take at the event.
How to avoid it: Make social media a key part of your pre-event promotions, and make your brand infinitely accessible when you send a follow up email. Use hashtags that are associated with the event, and design hashtags for your presence there, especially if you're offering a special experiential exhibit or contest. You may even be able to use social media as a way to engage the social influencers present at the event if you know their user names or find them by using the event hashtags.
8. You’re Not Utilizing Your Media Partner
This is about using every tool you have available to make your marketing as strong as possible. Not taking advantage of the experience your media partners have to offer is a part of our third of 12 causes of advertising failure, which should highlight its importance in general as well as in this context specifically.
How to avoid it: There's a number of benefits for working with experts, not least of which is helping you devise the very plan that will help you avoid all of the mistakes we've mentioned above. They can also offer added value, either by helping you identify discounts or by unique offerings including partnering with a radio station for live broadcasts from the event or on-air contests as a part of your pre-promotion.
Now that you know some of the easiest ways to screw up your event marketing sponsorship, you need to put your knowledge to use. You've worked hard to set up your brand's event sponsorship, so you need to do what's necessary to ensure the success of your event marketing by fully engaging your customers.