In the previous blog on Marketing for a conference we looked at the promotion of the event and included tips on offline promotion and online promotion in this blog we will look at the invitation process and ideas on how encourage delegates to attend.
The invitation process for your conference needs to be efficient and professional
For larger events use software products to manage the invitation process which sends out invitations, gather delegate data, and will show who needs to be followed up if they have not responded and produce statistical analysis.
You need to build a suitable database from raw lists, customer lists, prospect lists, that are targeted to the audience you wish to attend the event. The database will need to be cleaned to make sure that all the contact details are correct. You need to invite far more people than you wish to attend the event as sometimes it can be only 25% of acceptance.
Make sure all employees are promoting the event at every opportunity when talking to clients and potential customers, third parties.
You want people to know about the event ASAP so a teaser or keep this date free can be useful before the main invitation is sent. The more notice people can have of the event the better, sometimes this can be 3 months before the event other circumstance 3-4 weeks. Remember reminders for those that have not accepted need to be built into the invitation process this can be by email, telemarketing phone follow up.
Confirmation to invitees is very important for those who have accepted, you need to build up a communications channel to reduce inevitable drop out. Communications can include email messages, telephone, more detail on the programme and joining instructions.
How to get delegates to attend
Delegates will only attend after they find out’ what is in it for me’
Spell out the benefits
Offer an incentive or discount
Offer them a valuable bonuses
Make your event irresistible stress the benefits, offer worth while bonus material and state their value or an incentive for attending your events, such as discount on early bookings
Focus strongly on how specifically your event helps to improve the lives of attendees
Get other people and organizations to promote your event, look into sponsoring the event with another organizations. Target other businesses, suppliers, distributors to invite attendees from their own database
Work with local press t raise your company’s profile, build relationships with local radio, look at free publicity in newspapers and magazines, send out a press release
Measure effectiveness of everything you do, so that you know what works or does not for the next event
Further blogs on how to run a successful business event that has ROI will follow. To receive these valuable ideas and make sure that you do not miss any of the blogs please sign up we will deliver them to your in-box free. The blogs will be full of tips and ideas, to help you and your business in event management.
John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference
Setting the budget and having funds that is sufficient to fulfill the objectives and make sure that the event is executed to the right standard. Details of setting a budget are discussed below.
Compile a checklist of:
– fixed costs which is around 35% of the budget costs
– variable costs (per delegate) this is around 50% of the budget costs
– calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of budget costs
– review your costs regularly, it is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning, to know where you can during the build up to the conference enhance the event or cut back
Fixed costs – these costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees. Dependent on the type of conference it is normally staging and production which probably takes the largest proportion of the costs, with venue cost after this.
Crew – design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation rigging and de-rigging, per diem, show caller, script assistant, and all the technicians for the above equipment used
Fees and Insurance – this includes, producers fee, speaker fees, event management fees if an agency is being used to help with pre event planning registration or logistics. Also you may need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance for cancellation etc..
Invitation process – this will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending this can include:
Invitation – design costs, print cost for direct mail, brochure, website setup, database list of invitees, telemarketing follow up. Any advertising, posters and promotional costs as well as follow up activity to boost delegate response
Venue hire to include function rooms and contracts, as well as additional venue costs such as for gala dinner if off site.
– Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event. You need to commit to a number of delegates when booking the room hire. Note be aware of the cancellation fees and dates when confirming the contract, make sure from the outset that you know roughly within 20% your delegate numbers. Also note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.
Set up Services – this includes security personnel, extra staff, on site signage, registration costs, secretarial services and other ancillary costs such as conference office costs, telephone and faxes. Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered. Include wet weather back up if applicable, entertainment if you are having a gala dinner
The variable costs – are usually the bulk of your budget, and this will be dependent on the number of delegates that you expect to attend. It is vital to know or estimate the number of attendees before you can compile a working budget. It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as conferences are dynamic events and ever changing, this is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages. Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at attendee numbers and booking trends as sometimes there is a last minute rush to register. The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control. If there is to be at the outset a significant variation in estimated number of delegates then you need to get agreement for a variable overall budget range.
Contingency budget – always build in at least 15 % of variable and non variable budget as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, unforeseen printing costs etc… You need to also put in here any currency conversion fluctuation to be covered.
Above are most of the expenditure amounts of the budget however you may also be able to generate some revenue at your event depending on your objective and type of event planned. These could be:
Charging an attendance fee, having different charges for early bird registration to normal attendance
Sponsorship from business partners, TPVs to cover such things as speakers, F&B entertainment, drinks reception
Advertising sponsorship on pre conference documentation/ web site as well as during the conference
TPV/ distributor exhibition area in conjunction with the conference where stand space is charged
Partnering the conference with another company where both companies can benefit with shared audience to promote their services or products
Further blogs on how to run a successful business event that has ROI will follow. Follow the blog or subscribe to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss any of them. The blogs will be full of tips and ideas, to help you and your business in event management.
Reference reading: John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference
Having decided on your objectives and established a relevant theme, you need to consider the conference or seminar logo and the overall event branding and the invitation process for delegates.
The Promotion of the event
This is the most important aspect of all the planning, as you need to make sure that you have the relevant number of attendees.
The marketing of your event is not just the promotion of the event but integral to promoting your business, services, and expertise.
What ever marketing methods you adopt make sure you measure the results, so that you know what is the most effective method of getting people to attend.
Make sure that all your promotion is highly targeted.
Consider all possible methods of communication as different people like to receive different methods of communication. Use the full range of traditional offline promotion as well as online promotion as well as registration method for the delegates:-
Advertising in newspapers, trade press, effectiveness of the advertisement will depend on the clarity of the advertisement,, perceived value and targeting the degree of benefits for a person to attend. You need to have a properly organized advertising plan and campaign.
Direct mail – addressed to specific recipient, which allows one to be more targeted. You need to think who your target market is and adapt your message and language accordingly. Unaddressed mail can also be effective but again needs to be carefully targeted. Leaflets are a good medium for unaddressed mail.
Postcards, can be used as teasers to announce the date
Telephone, good for marketing to existing clients
TV & radio advertising
Audio and video, produce a CD that may show some of the speakers and their expertise.
Business introducers, using face to face communication
PR, promoting the event with a press release that needs to be newsworthy i.e. different, entertaining or significant to grab the editors attention.
General correspondence, make sure your event is mentioned in some shape or form on all correspondence that leaves the office, such as fax header, note pads, compliment slips, leaflets to include in any correspondence sent out. You can also use giveaways to promote the event.
SMS messaging, short texts are great way of reminding attendees of the event, and sending updates of what is happening.
Email, is an excellent way to market your event if you already have permission to contact the customer or prospect, often the collection of contact details through the website for newsletters can be excellent in sending electronic invitations. The event can be promoted on every email sent from the office with an additional line on the signature.
Website this can be used to promote all your events on your corporate website under a specific tab heading of events. You can also now use external website specifically designed to promote your event, provide additional information on the event and register the attendees, automate confirmation and joining instructions and send reminders if people have not responded, as well as statistics of registration and the attendees profile.
Pop-Ups, on your website to convince people that your seminar is worth attending.
Social Media, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Phone Apps programmed for your event where delegates can link with other registered delegates and get the latest information and promotion
Further blogs on how to run a successful business event that has ROI will follow. To receive these valuable ideas and make sure that you do not miss any of the articles we will deliver them to your in-box free, when you sign up. The blogs will be full of tips and ideas, to help you and your business in event management.