How to Create Event Marketing Pieces that Drive Registrations

By Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic™

The phrase “Build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to meetings and events. No matter how much time and effort you’ve put into planning a phenomenal meeting, unless it’s marketed effectively, people won’t attend.

This is where many organizations fall short. Too many associations and other groups simply send out an announcement listing the date, time, location and speaker. That’s not enough!

There are more people, tasks, tools and events competing for your prospective audience’s time and money than ever before. Which means, whether you’re putting on a teleseminar, a luncheon or a multi-day conference, you must make a compelling case why people need to attend. You have to convince them that this is the best possible use of their time and money.

In other words, you have to create marketing pieces.

A marketing piece is a salesperson in print or electronic form. A powerful marketing piece doesn’t just provide logistical information, it persuades people to take action by addressing issues important to them.

A truly effective event marketing piece must have all 12 of the following elements:

1. Strong Headline and Sub-Head
“2010 Annual Conference” is not a headline. It might be what your event is, but it’s not a headline. Likewise, your presidential theme or conference theme is not a headline.

A headline grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to learn more. In a marketing piece, it typically promises a benefit. Here are some examples:
     • Take Your Business to New Heights!
     • Master Social Media in Just Three Hours!
     • Is This the Year You Finally Achieve Your Biggest Goals?
     • Don’t Just Survive the Economic Crisis, Profit from It!
     • Would You Invest One Weekend to Change Your Life?
     • Reduce Your Costs and Increase Your Revenues!
     • Turn the New Tax Laws to Your Clients’ Advantage!
     • It’s Time For You to Work Less and Make More!

If your meeting features only one speaker, you can use their program title as your headline, assuming it meets the standards discussed above. For a multi-speaker event, you’ll need to come up with a headline that sums up an overall benefit to the reader.

2. Date, Time, Location
Make sure all this information is easy to find. In a brochure or on a web page, list it at least twice. You might also want to provide driving directions, a map and/or parking information.

If applicable, include hotel and/or transportation information. Be sure to mention both the regular rates and the discounted group rates you’ve arranged, so your reader will appreciate the savings involved.

3. Program Outline
Give people a good idea of what will be happening at the event. For a full-day or multi-day meeting, provide a schedule. Include meals, networking time and anything else of importance.

4. Benefits of Attending
This is the heart of your marketing message. This is the answer to the question, “Why should I invest my valuable time and money to go to this thing?” You need to be specific and you need to promise results.

To determine what the benefits of your event are, ask yourself questions like:
     • Why should someone attend this meeting?
     • What’s so special about this particular meeting?
     • What will they learn how to do?
     • What tools will they walk away with?
     • What problems will they learn how to solve?
     • How will this meeting help them?
     • What will they be able to do better?
     • What kind of difference will this make in their work or lives?
     • What will they be able to increase or reduce?
     • Of what value are the other elements of the meeting?
     • What will they miss out on if they don’t go?

If your speakers have clear, compelling program descriptions (which is the first thing you should look for when choosing speakers), you can simply use their copy for most of this element of your marketing piece.

5. Presenter Bios
Biographical information establishes the credibility of the speakers. For the most part, potential attendees don’t really care much about a speaker’s bio, but if it’s not included, they’ll wonder who the heck this person is.

6. Special Features
Besides a speaker or two (or a dozen), what does your event have to offer? Mention any and all features that might be of interest to your attendees. Like what, you ask? Things like:
     • Local tours
     • Trade show
     • Golf tournament
     • Autograph session
     • Comedy show or concert
     • Spa discounts
     • Organized activities
     • Live or silent auction
     • Awards banquet
     • Live demos
     • Spouse/partner sessions

7. Testimonials
Testimonials are one of the most powerful, and most overlooked, elements of a persuasive marketing piece. You want to use two types of testimonials: testimonials about your speakers and testimonials from attendees of your previous events. Preferably results-oriented testimonials. The more, the better.

8. Who Should Attend
Specifying who the meeting is intended for creates a connection between the reader and the event. If it’s designed for them, they feel more attracted to it. Listing who will benefit from attending can also cause the recipient to consider bringing along colleagues, staff, friends or family members.

9. Investment
Notice it’s not “price” or “cost.” Those words imply your meeting is an expense. The word “investment” promises a return.

Put the investment amount near the end, so they get a chance to appreciate the value of the event first. If there are any special offers, be sure to highlight them. And point out what a bargain the meeting really is.

10. Registration Incentives
You want your attendees to register now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now.

But if there’s no incentive, the natural tendency for people is to wait until the last minute. And the longer they put it off, the greater the chance they’ll forget entirely. So give them a reason to register immediately. Such as:

• Early-bird pricing. You might even have three different prices: early-bird, regular and on-site.

• A special benefit for the first 20, 50, 300 (or whatever number) registrants, like premium seating, a meet-and-greet with the speaker or a contest entry.

• A free gift if they register by a certain date. (I’ve given clients special reports to use as an incentive. It costs me nothing, it costs the association nothing and it drives early registrations.)

11. Registration Information
Make it easy to register! I’ve seen registration forms that were so confusing, I had no idea how to fill it out or how much the event was actually going to cost. Whether the information is on paper or on your web site, be certain the registration instructions are simple, clear and easy-to-follow.

12. Call to Action
A call to action is like the close in a sales presentation—if it’s not there, the prospect likely won’t do anything. So tell them exactly what to do (“Click here to register!” “Fill out the enclosed form…” “Fax this page to…”) and when to do it (“Now!” “Today!”).

 
Many people protest when I tell them all the elements they need to include in their marketing pieces. “That’s too much information! Nobody will read all that!” they say.

The evidence supports exactly the opposite. Research has proven again and again that, if it’s written well, long copy always outperforms short copy. Don’t be afraid of writing too much, be afraid of writing too little. If you leave out any of the above items, your registrations will suffer.

Want some help crafting effective event marketing materials? I have a special report entitled Power Words for Sales and Marketing. It shows you how to use the most compelling marketing words to create irresistible brochures, flyers, e-mail blasts and more. To request your free copy, click here.

© Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic™. 

Don Cooper—The Sales Heretic™—helps salespeople, business owners and professionals dramatically increase their sales. He conducts seminars, trains sales and customer service teams and speaks at annual meetings, conferences and conventions. Contact Don at 303-832-4248 or visit www.DonCooper.com for more articles, tips and tactics.

For more meeting planner resources, click here.

Don Cooper, The Sales Heretic™ 303-832-4248 E-mail Don