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Marketing is a minefield. Ask ten different marketing professionals the same question and you are guaranteed to receive ten different answers. The truth is, there is no right or wrong.

Marketing an event is no exception. They all have different requirements, audiences and demands, making the task of marketing them unenviable. So, using the advice of some of the professionals we are in touch with, and looking back on some of the articles in our archives, Event Industry News decided to put together our own list of tips.

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1.Know your audience and deploy media that is most appropriate

This is the first point we raise for a reason. In 2013, Reed Exhibitions used purely online media to promote its New York Comic Con event. They had carefully analysed its audience and realised that pretty much all of its target market used blogs, online chat rooms, social media, email and websites to interact with the corresponding community, with printed media playing little or no part. By identifying this, Reed was not only able to develop a marketing strategy that utilised these streams, it was also able to interact and engage with its audience through these online channels. The result?  The full allocation of 116,000 tickets sold well in advance of the event.

2. Social media is no longer preferable – it is essential 

It’s 2014. Regardless of their age, interests, education or employment status, no event will have an entire audience that doesn’t use social media. It may only be a handful of customers, but with social media being what is essentially a free tool it is essential you make sure that all of your communications are fed to the most popular networks. Social media is how more and more people choose to communicate with friends and businesses, so not using it simply means you are eliminating potential customers.

3. Liking is not necessarily helping you

How many times have you received a Facebook notification from a friend that simply asks you to ‘Like’ their new page? They have set up a page for their beauty parlour that offers Brazilian hot waxes and think that all 400 of their online friends will want to ‘Like’ it.  They quickly get 100 ‘Likes’, but 30 of them are from their brother’s Rugby team and 20 from some people they met on a holiday to Bulgaria. How exactly will these followers help to market the business? Achieving lots of ‘Likes’ is an important factor, particularly for important outgoing communications via your page. However, having the right people following your page is even more crucial. Building a social media audience that is willing to engage with your event is about getting them to ‘Share’ relevant information. This is key to building the right type of ‘Like’. So make it interesting, make it suitable and make it work for you.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Some Money

There is still a lot of paranoia when it comes to spending money on internet advertising. When you actually think about it, it’s far more transparent than other forms of marketing and offers almost unrivalled ways in which to target specific demographics. Huge companies like Google and Facebook wouldn’t be in the financial positions they are if their advertising didn’t work. Good online advertisers should be able to show you their visitor statistics and key interaction data, allowing you to make a calculated decision. Some websites, like evvnt, offer services that list your event details on hundreds of other sites for a fee. This could potentially save you many, many man-hours that would otherwise be taken up by someone manually inputting your details on listing sites. If you have an advertising budget, start sub-dividing it so that there is a specific amount allocated to online advertising.

5. Use the Free Options to Your Advantage and Publicise All Year Round

Before the Internet events relied on traditional forms of marketing that – in the vast majority of cases – cost money. Whether it was to a PR agency to secure press coverage or for printed advertising space, cash had to change hands. This essentially forced events to plan the timeline of their marketing activity very carefully, starting things a few months in advance and slowly building to make the most of their budget. However, with social media a fundamentally free service, there’s no excuse for an event not to be communicating all year round. Keeping your event in front of your audience is relatively straightforward compared to starting from scratch every year because you’ve gone quiet for a few months.

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