Guest post: 8 event marketing mistakes you can't afford

Edith Yeung is the founder and executive producer of BizTechDay, an entrepreneur conference where inspiring entrepreneurs share practical business and technology strategies. BizTechDay 2010 will take place in San Francisco, Seattle and New York this fall. Edith has successfully produced over 40 entrepreneurial events and brought over 5500 people together in the past 3 years. We asked her to share her insights into common event marketing mistakes. Here’s what she shared with us!

The old adage from Field of Dreams isn’t true: just because you announce your event, doesn’t mean your audience will magically show up.

When you have no one signing up for your event, you obviously will get nervous. Argh… why the heck are they not signing up? You may start making silly marketing mistakes that will backfire on your event and brand.

Here are 8 event marketing mistakes you cannot afford to make:

1. DO NOT invite the wrong people

I know, I know… you want to fill the room. But imagine you are organizing a dental conference but end up having room full of technologists. Not only it will defeat the purpose of your event, you will probably disappoint your audience, speakers and sponsors. Do not invite everyone under the sun. Do not invite all your friends. Invite only people who will appreciate your event.

2. DO NOT SPAM people

If someone doesn’t want to come to your event, they are not going to. Just because you email them 10 more times, they will not change their mind. The worst thing is, they may get so annoyed that they start telling others NOT to come. Buying lists of names and emails to promote your event is also a no-no. If you do not enjoy receiving unsolicited mails, neither does your potential audience. So be careful how you manage your brand reputation.

3. DO NOT send cookie cutter email pitches to community influencers

Community influencers (me included) get hundreds of pitch emails every week with people wanting them to help market their events, products or services. Here is part of a sample pitch email which I will highly encourage you DO NOT copy:

“Hi Edith,

I would like you to meet XXXX, A World Authority on
Making Your Dreams Real. XXX will be in the San Francisco
XXX and would love to come and speak to your
group during these tough economic times and make a difference.”

If you really want the community influencers to help you, spend some time to understand what they are looking for and how you can help them, and at least give a few reasons why they should spend their precious time to help you. Why would anyone do all this work to promote an event they don’t know or care about?

4 DO NOT confuse your audience by giving different discounts

Giving out discounts is a great way to motivate your potential audience. But be careful. You’ve got to give the different organizations equal discount opportunity. Some organizations will get really upset if you give one 10% but the another 20%. Be fair and give out the same level of discounts to different organizations.

5 DO NOT make it difficult for your media sponsors

Inviting media sponsors to help you promote your event is a great way to spread the word. However, don’t forget that just because a media sponsor promises to promote your event doesn’t mean they should be the one creating all the marketing copy for you. Be sure to remember THEIR deadlines. Make it easy for them. Give them a short and a long template they can choose from to promote your event accordingly.

6. DO NOT confuse people who want to buy

So you emailed the right people and they go to your Eventbrite page—you want to give them as much information as possible so they can make the purchase decision quickly. So get to the point! Your Eventbrite page should include:

  • Speakers
  • Topics
  • Agenda
  • Reasons to attend your event
  • Enticing/compelling images

For BizTechDay, we just tried out the custom header feature. It worked like a charm and gives us more space to explain and set expectations with our audience.  See below as an example:

7. DO NOT upset your publicist or PR help

My friend Sarah who is a great publicist just told me one of her clients did not pay for her work. A really bad move on the guy’s part.  This is what she told me, “If I can get you good PR, I can also get you bad PR.”

The moral of the story? Pay your bills and do not mess with publicists!

8. DO NOT upset your speakers

Communicate, communicate and communicate. Do not anger speakers or attendees. If you do, you can be sure no one will want to support and market your event again. Not to mention, your online reputation will be ruined. All one has to do is run an online search of your name or company.

Thanks to Edith Yeung for the great event marketing insights!