There are plenty of things to worry about when you are planning and promoting your next event.
- Have I booked the right speakers?
- Is the venue big enough?
- Can I cope if the caterer falls through?
A major worry is whether you can get people even to attend your event. But, if you follow a sound event communication plan, you can give yourself the best chance of packing out your event with excited attendees.
In this ultimate guide on event communications planning, we’ll cover the distinct communication phases and the best messaging and platforms to use at each stage.
What’s an Event Communication Plan?
An event communication plan is a messaging strategy for marketing and promoting your event. To illustrate the concept, let’s consider something closer to home.
Suppose you wanted to throw a surprise birthday party for a family member, you might instinctively think of all the things you need to do to make it a roaring success.
- You’d get a save-the-date message out to relatives and friends telling them you were having a celebration.
- Later, you’d let them know what type of party it was, whether it’s a sit-down meal, buffet or a BBQ, for example.
- Next, you’d send out some invites, so everyone knows the time and the place.
- Then you’d track all the RSVPs to see who was coming or not.
- If you’re super organised, you might even send a reminder a week or so before the event.
- Then after the party’s over, you might send out thank you notes to those who came along.
Now imagine that instead of a surprise family party, you’re organising an event for your business. An event communication plan to promote a business meetup, exhibition or conference works practically the same.
The event communication plan details the messaging steps you will take to give your event the best chance of success.
You should separate your event communication plan into two distinct phases—Pre-event and Post-event.
Let’s take a closer look at each phase and suggest some messaging options for each one.
Pre-Event Communication Plan
The pre-event phase of your event communication plan is where most of the work will take place.
Pre-launch Communication Plan
The first step in your event communication plan is to get the message out. You want to let the world know you are planning an event. So look to grab potential attendee’s attention with a coordinated communications blast.
Even if you haven’t finalised the main speakers, know the exact date, even the event’s precise location—start to make some noise. Create a landing page or microsite containing the event information you do know so far.
Event Landing Page Using Swift Digital Landing Page Module
Drive traffic to your microsite by cross-promoting on your social accounts. Tweet about your plans, create Instagram images and write a blog post detailing the information you have. Create an event hashtag, and use it on your social media event communications. That way, those interested can filter social feeds to see event-specific content.
According to an Event Manager Blog survey, social media and email marketing are the most influential event marketing channels.
Image credit: https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/event-marketing
So link from your social content back to your microsite, and let people know that it’s the place to find the latest event information.
Begin capturing the email addresses of people interested in attending. As your plans begin to crystallise, you can email updates to this ‘warm’ list of people.
Event launch Communication Plan
Once you’ve confirmed the date, venue, and headline guests, it’s time to go ahead with the event launch.
The communications in this step build on the work you’ve already done. Update the event microsite, ensuring it contains all the information an attendee will need to
make up their mind about attending.
Provide information about the venue, including directions, parking, and public transport.
Make the event date prominent and use a website calendar script so that visitors can save the date directly in their online calendar. Here’s how to embed one on your microsite for Google Calendar.
Highlight the main speakers are and provide links to their social accounts or other online resources.
You’ll also want to include the information about any event seminars, networking opportunities, and if you will have exhibition space for associated businesses.
Send an email containing all of the launch details to the people whose addresses you captured earlier via the event microsite.
Make a big splash on your social channels and post teasers about your event plans. You can link to helpful content related to your event’s theme to inform attendees better about the topics the event will be covering.
Try to get your event’s details amplified in the media with a press release. It’s hard to pick up coverage in the national press, but you may get some interest from local press or industry-specific publications.
Pre-Event Communication Steps For Sales Events
If your event aims to drive sales for your business, here are some steps you can take now to increase the event’s promotional effectiveness.
Consider how you’ll position your event. Are you launching a new product? Maybe you want to highlight a whole product range? Whatever your aim, you need to tie in your current marketing campaigns with your event communication plan’s messaging.
- Get customer-facing staff to start spreading the word about your event with PDFs and other promotional materials.
- Make sure that you promote your event microsite on relevant product pages across your main website.
- If you use marketing automation software, you can integrate this to your CRM solution to ensure you invite all the right people. Then, when the event’s over, you can update the records of those that attended to facilitate further marketing efforts.
Event Invitations, Registrations, and Confirmations
Send out event invitations at the same time as your launch to capitalise on the heightened interest.
You can send invitations to everyone that left their email address on your pre-launch landing page, and you can make use of your social media channels to let others know how to register to attend.
You should time launch communications to give potential attendees time to organise their schedules.
For a multi-day event that attracts people from out of town, attendees may need several months to plan for attending.
For smaller, local events, you can get away with a shorter lead time, but give people notice at least a couple of weeks out.
While event invitations sent out in the post can feel more personal, email invites are best for cost savings and efficiency.
A significant benefit of using email invitations is that you can link to a booking page directly on your website, reducing friction for the recipient in booking to attend.
Your event management software should be capable of issuing QR code tickets to make it easy for attendees to check into the event.
Electronic ticketing systems also let you take payment directly on your website if you are charging people to attend your event.
Confirm all bookings by email, and use the opportunity to provide the main information about the event again. We all get so many emails today that, at best, you can only expect people to scan read your email. So use plenty of white space and lots of headers so people can skim read the main points.
Regular “event buzz” Communications and Reminders
Keep your launch momentum going by building up anticipation with a jam-packed content calendar.
Regularly post fresh and exciting content around the theme of your event.
This can include writing blogs that highlight the booked speakers’ work, and you can draw attendees attention to your content with an automated email blast.
The type of content you choose to keep the buzz going will depend on the kind of event you are running.
White papers are ideal for more formal business events, but for consumer events, more accessible content like infographics and videos may better suit your audience.
If you are using specialist software to manage the event’s marketing, you can use the inbuilt email and SMS features to send updates and reminders to confirmed attendees.
As you approach the event date, send out a final ‘last chance’ registration reminder that recaps the main benefits of attending.
You can also contact people who have left you their email address but not booked yet with a special offer to boost last-minute numbers.
Your event communication plan shouldn’t end on the day of the event. Here are a few ideas for post-event messaging.
Post-event feedback and marketing communications.
The first thing to do when the event’s over is to send out an email to thank those that attended.
Celebrate the highlights and include videos and pictures, and you can also link to a post-event survey to poll your attendees on how the day went.
You can ask hard-data questions where you fix attendees responses, which provides you with statistical evidence. And you can also add in free-text response questions for a broader range of views.
A hard-data question is something like “Overall, how would you rate our event?” with fixed responses of; Excellent, Very Good, Good, Average, and Poor.
A more open-ended free-text question is, “What did you dislike about the event?”
Capturing people’s opinions while the event is still fresh in their memory can provide you with valuable data to plan future events. It’s helpful to anonymise responses to get the unvarnished truth, and you can use an incentive to increase the replies.
If you used an electronic ticketing system, you would know who attended and who was a no-show.
Send those that didn’t participate a message telling them you are sorry they couldn’t come. Include the highlights to demonstrate what they missed and lay the groundwork for future events.
Some event organisers also create a post-event page on their microsite, where people can leave their thoughts and impressions and post any images and videos they took at the event.
If your event aimed to drive sales for your business, it’s also a perfect time to get a marketing message in front of attendees. So devise a communications plan for your sales team to contact your attendees.
Implement Your Event Communication Plan with a Marketing Automation Platform
There’s usually a long list of tasks to complete on your event communications plan. To ease the burden, you should consider using specialist software.
You can use marketing automation software to do all your event management tasks in one handy dashboard. Here are some of the features found in good event management software.
Powerful Event Management Software
At Swift Digital, we run the best event solutions software in the whole of Australia. Packed to the rafters with event automation features, there’s not much it can’t do when organising and running events.
The benefits of running events, whether you hold physical or virtual events are endless. 52% of respondents asked about the importance of events in their marketing strategy said that events drove more results than other marketing channels.
Planning an event is always hard work.
Make things easier for yourself by using our event management software. It can automate a lot of the work that helps you to promote, plan, and execute a successful event.
Ask the experts at Swift Digital about how we can help automate the process of organising and marketing your corporate events (virtual or face-to-face). Call us on 03 9929 7001.