Zen and the art of Conference Marketing

26 01 2010

Following from a recent post “social media and event marketing” I though I would spend a bit more time outlining the basic steps to successful conference marketing (as I see them). At IQPC we have a very detailed process outlining how we market conferences, here I am only trying to outline the basics.  I am also going to assume you have a great product, solid lead time and all the basic events management principles tucked away…

The basic conference marketing steps:

1)      The story – Why this event? what’s the message? what’s the value proposition? what makes your brand stand out?

2)      Audience – Clearly define your audience and the larger community. Find out where they hang out online, what magazines they read, what associations they are part of, what other events they attend, what they need to hear about etc.

3)      Packaging and messaging – Match the story and the audience with the parts of the event that will resonate the most.

4)      Analysis / research – Investigate what’s worked in the past, what new channels may be available, what you have already, what you need to get and sanity check your audience profiles.

5)      Planning and strategy – Build a integrated multi-channel marketing strategy that ties all the above together with an effective timeline & budget. Including an online strategy and social media optimization plan.

6)      Execute – Start building your parterships and execute all the campaigns in a timely manner.  As Bossidy and Charan said in their book, “Execution is “the missing link between aspirations and results,”  the biggest obstacle to the success of any conference is the absence of execution.

7)      Analysis / Improvement / Reactive Marketing – Monitor everything and repeat what’s working, cut what’s not working.

The devil is in the detail and you need a CRM system (or something) to keep it all together (we use a customized Seibel system that is amazing!) and and and and…the list goes. As Click Z,  the digital marketing news site once wrote:

“Launching a conference is the most daunting and underrated challenge in B2B marketing. As part of this rapid fire 6 month process, you will need to create an instant brand that stands out from all the other competitive events…and because of the high price, the brand has to immediately communicate a high perceived value to justify the hefty registration fees, travel costs and time out of the office.”

Sounds like a challenge! I am going to spend the next series of posts expanding on each of these steps in more detail.  But feel free to add to them if you would like or let me know if I left any key steps out.

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