14 January 2019

How to grow your event

Knowing what makes one event more popular that the next is an inexact science. No single factor can guarantee year-on-year growth – but following a few basic principles of good event planning and management is a sure-fire way of giving your event the best possible shot at success.

In this article, we’ll look at several key measures that can help grow an event and increase its popularity and name-recognition.

Deliver a great event

It seems obvious, but so many conferences, exhibitions, and awards ceremonies fail to ignite the imagination – the only explanation is that insufficient time has been dedicated to ensuring that attendees enjoy a great experience. If you can make your event fun, engaging, or simply vital, then people will bring their colleagues back next year. So how do you do that?

Gather feedback

Understanding what attendees think of your event and/or establishing the discussion topics that interest them is crucial if you want to deliver a relevant and popular event year after year. Gathering feedback during the event or surveying attendees via email once it has finished aren’t just ‘nice-to-have’ activities, they’re integral to ensuring your event delivers what people need.

Find an appropriate media partner/create a targeted campaign

To maximise the potential of your event, you’ll need to tap into the industries or sectors that are likely to provide the bulk of your attendees. That could well mean forging a strategic partnership with a media organisation that already has established communities, publications and digital destinations serving these areas.

Establishing a relationship in this way will enable you to enact a targeted marketing campaign making use of available advertising slots and up-to-date email lists, engaging social streams and publishing sponsored articles.

All of which brings us neatly to the next point…

Build a digital community

For an event to have longevity it’s fundamental that it has a life beyond the limits of its exhibition space and the period over which it’s run. That means building a digital community.

A website is a must – as is a social media presence. Your website will act as the hub of all activity, promoting the event, providing necessary information and enabling prospective attendees to buy tickets.

Activity on your website and social channels can then be ramped up in the weeks prior to your event to encourage interest. Designate a hashtag on each of the platforms on which you’d like to build activity, and outline the social handles people should use to watch for updates and alerts. It’s equally important to continue publication of content post-event to ensure delegates receive ongoing value and to encourage engagement that could bring them back next year.

Using social media during your event

During your event, what measures can you take to tap into the social connections of attendees and engage a wider group of people?

First, assign a hashtag for the platforms on which you’d like to build activity and outline the social handles people should watch for event updates and alerts. This will help connect people outside the room with those inside. Next, can you devise activity that combines being in the room and social media? Could you offer access to key areas or discounted products and services for a tweet, ‘like’ or update? Or how about using services such as Facebook Live or Periscope to stream live video of your event or its various sessions? This will enable people across the globe to ‘attend’ your event and spread your influence far and wide.

Ensure scalability

So, you’ve run a great event, everyone is happy, and it’s anticipated that next year will bring increased interest. Can you cope?

Building on success isn’t straightforward – planning is essential. Here’s a handful of topics that will need to be addressed if an event is going to build on its own success:

  • Are your digital destinations fit for purpose? With greater acclaim comes greater scrutiny. Can your web channels deliver the service that attendees will expect?
  • Don’t forget your ticketing/registration platform – do attendees find it easy to use? Does it save valuable man-hours by automating multiple admin processes?
  • Can you establish a long-term sponsorship agreement that will help you invest for the future?
  • Does your event have longevity? Thematically, can it move with the times and adapt to trends and industry changes?

Ok, now run a great event…

Ensuring your event can grow and adapt all boils down to good-quality planning. If your organisation can think creatively and foresee how and why changes will occur in the sectors its serves, you’ll be well on your way to delivering an event with national or even international prospects.

Best of luck!