event marketingMarket share and mindshare: A successful event can bring heaps of both kinds of attention to your business. The key is to plan it so that your execution is flawless. That's where the practical concerns such as insurance, safety, security, and logistics come into play. Many decide to hire an event planner once the scale of even a "small" event is understood.

This article focuses on getting the most marketing mileage possible. Let's look at three crucial time periods that can affect how the marketing is received: prior to the event, during the event, and after the event.

Prior to the Event

Major planning starts here. What will the event say about your company, service, or products? What is the desired mood you want to achieve? What will attendees learn, or what other benefits will they receive from attending? This is the time to craft the strong message that will be repeated throughout the event.

[ ] Comprehensive marketing plan

Direct mail, website, radio spots, TV, newspaper ads, film and photography, and other methods should be part of the planning process depending on the audience you want to reach.

[ ] Logo, colors, and style guide

Events with strong visual branding throughout the experience tend to be more memorable and feel more cohesive.

[ ] Press kits -- paper and digital

Plan to notify local and/or regional media prior to the event for the best hope of earned media. At minimum, you'll need a press release with photos, bios, and information packets ready to distribute.

[ ] Social media marketing plan

Word-of-mouth is still the cheapest and most effective marketing method; social media should be the centerpiece.

[ ] Pre-show emails

Whether a part of your existing newsletter or as stand-alone promotion, emails are an important way to build buzz.

[ ] PPC, SEO, and online advertising

Target keywords and phrases for advertising leading up to your event.

[ ] Create the agenda packet

This document is a potent sales tool to get attendees. Highlight the benefits of attending and the proposed schedule of events. There should be at least two versions, one electronic and one printed for the event itself.

[ ] Show giveaways

Order the giveaways you'll use during the show to encourage participation.

During the Event

Every part of the event contains a marketing possibility. A strong, consistent message should be seen and felt from start to finish. Plan activities that support this overall message and be sure that all materials designed for attendees to take with them also conveys your theme.

[ ] Creative materials at the venue

Consider distributing packets of information in a suitable format. This may include novelty tchotchkes or branded everyday items. It may mean digital materials, such as free apps or games.

[ ] Visuals at the venue

Marketing potentials include all signage, posters, banners, balloons, boards, name badges, tent cards, plaques, etc.

[ ] Filming and photography

Events are goldmines for marketing materials. Be ready with a professional photographer or videographer. Hire a pro to ensure quality images and good lighting setup.

[ ] Social media "live streaming," "live tweeting," or similar

Have a dedicated group of people creating social media updates for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to maximize and capture the real-time experience.

[ ] Collect testimonials

Video is the ideal way to collect testimonials since you can reuse this later (be sure to have attendees sign a release). Soliciting written feedback and photos also work well.

After the Event

Immediately after the event is a time to collect feedback, materials, and measurements. All of these data points can be processed for improvement in the future or used in upcoming marketing materials. Organize the post-event media and other information as diligently as you planned it for best results.

[ ] Measure and report on social media outreach

Use a site like Hashtracking.com to measure discussion reach.

[ ] Collect links to social media updates

You will be able to point to these again later since most will stay online for a long time.

[ ] Archive the event on your website or post again to social media

This archive can provide valuable social proof for future events.

[ ] Collect and organize feedback

Attendee testimonials can be organized for future use, as can post-event survey responses. Look through feedback for verbiage useful for marketing future events. Be sure to get permission for attribution.

For more detailed steps check out The Definitive Guide to Event Marketing produced by Marketo. It is a free download with email registration.

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Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist who covers event marketing tips and trends for Vistaprint, a leading source for address labels, invitations, and other products to help you market your next event successfully. Katie has written about marketing for 12 years and is co-owner of a neighborhood grocery/cafe outside of Washington, D.C.