Event Planning Tips
Summer is here and the number of outdoor events, trade shows, and conventions have skyrocketed. We put together this list of summer event planning tips so your business can make the most of them!
We’ve broken the event planning tips into 3 categories:
- Make a Social Media Plan
- Maximize Booth (Brand) Awareness
- The Most Important Section
Summer Event Planning Tips – Make a Social Media Plan
These days, it virtually goes without saying that the best way to advertise is anything and creates a consumer buzz is through Social Media. So before your next event, set up a three-pronged social media plan. Of our event planning tips, this may be the most important one!
The first thing to do before attending a recurring event is to make an “outpost” for it. Build a page on your website that is dedicated to that event specifically. A hub for everything you post about it. Maintaining a permanent page will improve your organic traffic for that event as the years go on. Also, it will give your attendees more content to dig into, A.K.A. more opportunities to turn them into a customer. You should start making weekly posts one month in advance of the event. Most events, trade shows, conventions, festivals, etc., have a dedicated hashtag. Don’t forget to include that hashtag in your posts and be sure to create your own company-specific event hashtag. Another mini event planning tip? Start this process in particular early to build hype.
The initial posts should give a sneak-peek into what will be coming up at the event. It should also notify attendees as to where your booth will be. This is just the base strategy, the “least you could do”. An excellent (and surprisingly under-utilized) idea for your Pre-Event social media strategy is to host a Pre-Event… Event. Consider a “Happy Hour” get together or VIP Dinner. You can offer an in-depth sneak peek of your exhibit and get to know some attendees. Your initial posts should be sent to any journalists, bloggers, and other media covering the event. Sharing some of their posts with your subscribers. Also, offer insight into the event like what you’ll have and industry-specific questions. This goes a long way towards ensuring your booth gets mentioned.
During the Event
It’s a common misconception that your social media plan should consist of just pre and post-event sections. In actuality, posting during the event is a great way to drive more traffic to your booth. It also connects you with people who didn’t get the chance to attend. Take plenty of pictures and videos to share. Also be sure to post a notification of all the important happenings like contests and giveaways.
Speaking of contests, a perfect way to automate the process of sharing pictures that highlight what’s going on at your booth is to turn it into a game. Tell attendees that if they take a picture with your booth and post it (with that event hashtag you made) they’ll be entered into a draw for a prize. Another excellent idea for including attendees in your posts is to ask a couple questions to your serious fans (we’re talking about the people that ADORE your company) and record then share their answers. Not only will the fan be happy because they got to really be a part of your exhibit, but those who view it will get to see what it “feels” like to be one of your clients – and every savvy marketer knows, we sell experiences, not products.
Your post-event social media strategy is all about one thing, LEAD FOLLOW UP! This portion of our event planning tips is also incredibly important. This is one of those areas where tons of businesses effectively throw leads in the trash every year. Obviously, there should be (and most businesses do write) a post-event summary of some kind, but it’s more than that. You should be reconnecting with the people you met at the event through social media, email, or even directly by phone in some cases… and NOT JUST ONCE!
The key here is consistency. Contact your leads immediately following the event to see how they enjoyed it and if they still need your solution, not your service, but the solution you have to their problem. If they make an appointment or purchase your product great, if not, wait a couple weeks and contact them again. Most leads have 5-7 interactions with a business before they become customers, so don’t “throw them out” after just 2 or 3 interactions. One last tip for your follow up, make it as personal as possible. It’s easy to just send out a blanket email to everyone on your list, but, there’s a direct correlation between how personalized your email is to the client and how likely they are to take the action your requesting.
Summer Event Planning Tips – Maximize Booth (Brand) Awareness
Really, that’s what all these events are about, isn’t it? Raising awareness about your brand to increase your customer base and most importantly, your profits. The thing is though unless this is a single company event that you’re hosting, the competition will be fierce. Without a well designed, eye-catching booth, even the best products and services will be lost in the chaos of a crowded event.
Catching the Eye of Passerby
So how do you stand out in the crowd? With vibrant, easily visible signage that is above everyone else’s. That’s one of the benefits of outdoor events, there is no ceiling to limit your signage. Now, we’re not saying you should erect some gaudy 30-foot monstrosity, but, having a few banners that sit well above the height of the crowd will do wonders for your traffic.
One example of a taller banner that’s perfect for outdoor use is a “Feather Flag.” These weatherproof banners come in sizes up to 15.75 feet and (with proper fonts) offer a ton of visibility. The other main bonus these canvas banners offer is that they flutter in the wind creating a light noise that attracts people’s attention. Want something even more eye-catching? How about 8′ tall Foam Letters that can be seen from 100’s of feet away?
[Pro Tip: For every ten feet of viewing distance your font should be 1 inch tall. 30-feet away, 3-inch lettering.]
Interact with the Crowd
The other key way to bring in more traffic is to get outside of your booth and interact with people walking by. If you are sitting behind the table of your booth just waiting for people to stop by, you might as well be sitting at the office. Stand up, put a smile on, and start socializing like we used to, In-Person. It’s also not a bad idea to have one or two of your staff down the “hall” from your booth in both directions to hand out flyers and talk to people, peak their interest. Just be sure to tell them to move around a bit, it’s rude to stand in front of one booth all day poaching their clients.
You can get all the traffic you need without earning a “black hat” reputation. When it comes down to your booth itself, there are 3 keys to a well-designed outdoor marketing space.
Shelter, Comfort, and Curiosity
When it comes to indoor events, all you really need to think about is making your booth stand out and attracting as many people as possible. However, for your outdoor events, the proper shelter will be a big plus. After hours of walking around in the hot sun, people will be looking for any shade they can find and be more than likely to inhabit that shady spot for an extended period of time. This is where tables with umbrellas or even better, a canopy over your entire booth will turn passersby into “full-time residents” of your space.
When it comes to your umbrella, look for one that’s free-standing with a sturdy base, that way your table options aren’t limited. As for your canopy, there are a few things to think of. Do you want walls (which can be a major plus) and how long does the canopy take to set up? Having a walled-in space with a couple fans and chairs set up will create a pleasant oasis for attendees to relax in (for extended periods of time). Passersby seeing how many people are parked in your booth will want to check it out themselves to see what all the fuss is. Lastly, getting back to the “ABOVE EVERYONE ELSE’S” bit, with a height of 10’, your canopy will be clearly visible above the crowds.
Offer Them Comfort
Having a shady area with seats for people to relax in is great, but it’s not the final piece of the comfort puzzle. Handing out water bottles and snacks will do wonders to not only draw people into your exhibit but improve their view of your brand as well. Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t like the person handing out free refreshments? Now you may be thinking that handing out water bottles and snacks is great, but once the recipients leave my booth, the benefit ends… and you’d be right.
Handing out some store-bought snacks does nothing to draw more people in once the recipient leaves, but… that’s only if you don’t brand them. Custom labeled water bottles are highly affordable and will ensure that the rest of the attendees know where the dispensary is, even if they don’t ask the person with the bottle. Likewise, sticking “Courtesy of Such and Such” stickers to your snacks will ensure that people know where the delicious sweets are coming from.
[Pro Tip: If you’re going to provide refreshments, offer both sugar and sugar-free so that everyone can enjoy one.]
So let’s recap, you’ve built your comfortable oasis, fed the masses, and drawn a significant crowd to your booth, what’s next?
While it’s best to explain your product’s benefit to every potential lead, sometimes crowds can overwhelm your booth staff. So be sure to bring flyers and detailed displays that can handle some of the initial interaction for you. However, keep in mind that when we say detailed, we really only mean 95% complete. Your material should answer the basic questions and pique interest. However, leave one major question unanswered. Explain the basics of the product and the benefits it will offer, but leave out how. The viewer then needs to escalate the interaction to make their decision. They won’t be making it based solely on their impression of the display.
If you’re looking for signage that sets up quick and draws traffic from both directions, try the double-sided EZ Tube Display. These adjustable height steel-framed banners set up in seconds. They even have optional lighting which makes them perfect for those events and festivals that run late. Even if your booth isn’t the flashiest exhibit there, it’s still possible to be a marked success. That’s because “the most important key” is to…
Summer Event Planning Tips – Set Measurable Goals
The biggest reason why businesses don’t see any benefit from trade shows, conventions, and festivals is they don’t set goals. They go into the event with a general idea of what they’d like to see. However, wanting more business after the show doesn’t mean they set specific goals or methods of tracking them. When you plan to host a booth, you should have a specific, quantifiable goal in mind. Here are some examples:
- Generate 150 new qualified leads
- Generate X amount of dollars in sales
- Survey X amount of people to learn more about my target audience
Though at the end of the list of summer event planning tips, it’s the single most important step. Before you book a space or spend even one dollar, you need to decide what you’re trying to accomplish. You also must decide what both success and failure will look like. It’s incredibly easy to sink too much money into event marketing and fail to see any ROI. Knowing your goal from the start will help prevent those things from happening. Collecting, testing and recording event planning tips for your team is a great strategy. For more event planning tips check out 858 Graphic’s Event Planning Checklist.