You’ve planned the event. You’re hosting a coffee Q&A, a fundraiser, a workshop, a networking gig. You set the date, picked a venue and orchestrated the logistics of refreshments and a program. Now how do you get the people to come?
First step-know who you want to attend. Is this for prospects? To raise money from long time donors? New benefit for clients? Don’t tell me everyone–nothing on this planet is a product for everyone. If you think about water, which everyone does need to exist, then tell me in 10 seconds the different waters you can purchase, you realize my point.
Second step-plan in advance enough to be able to notify people. You can’t get 100 people to an event with less than 2 weeks notice. Part of the plan is having a tracking mechanism to know how many are coming. But know the formula for attendance. Used to be invite twice as many as you hope to attend. Now people would give an arm to have that. It’s really about 10x the number of people. Put another way, however many you invite, across platforms, expect only a 10% return.
Promotion and publicity happen in four platforms: in person, on the phone, online (email to social networking) or third party (local newspapers, client referrals). You need a plan to promote across every channel.But keep in mind that in-person, super time intensive. Not likely to happen-if you have that kind of time you probably should be retired.
Most of you try to hit the most number of prospects by going to the local news. It’s a broad reach, a little work. But results are limited. Certainly from a public relations perspective send out a news release and submit your event to calendar options to all the news outlets. And this includes newsletters such as the Chamber of Commerce, not just the local paper. Know what’s available in your community. You aren’t likely to get 100 people to attend with just this tactic. Works for awareness (making it worthwhile to do), not so much for the trial/adoption buy-a-ticket phase. Think about how many news calendars you look at for stuff to do. Usually you find an interesting event you might want to attend only after you’ve gone to looking for a specific event for you kids’ soccer team or your mother-in-law’s senior club.
Then be sure to push the event on your social media (blogs and tweets) and your social networking (Facebook and LinkedIn). And repeat. Friends/clients aren’t on their social media all the time. You want to post when people are likely looking at their sites. And vary that to catch as many of your target as possible.
You absolutely must share with your list and more than once. You can include info if you have a scheduled newsletter, but don’t just leave it at that. You need to be sure to send a stand alone email to your list with specifics about the event. Make it easy to sign up and calendarize by adding these features in the text.
Finally, pick up the phone. Especially for a fundraiser. People forget; you may need to remind them about their RSVPs or that they usually go and they haven’t signed up. Don’t expect that your fabulous information is always read and by 100% of the people you sent it to. Even your mom won’t read all your stuff.
If it’s a one time event try to schedule it when there aren’t competitive events for your same clients (i.e. fundraising). If it’s a regular club event, be sure to set the schedule so members know it’s every third Tuesday at lunch–makes it easier to calendar.
Be sure to repeat the communications-social media posts and event invites and emails. And plan for fewer folks to attend than RSVP on those social media platforms. Follow up phone calls, best way to get people there.