How To Generate Buzz and Create Excitement for Your Event Part II
October 20 2015
In an earlier blog post, we wrote about ways to generate excitement around your event and ways to get people talking about your event before it happens. There is nothing more gut wrenching than planning an event and then just waiting to see if people come and attend it. So we have decided to compile some more ideas to see how you can get attendees to register early and share your event with their friends.
1. Create an event that resonates.
Your event must provide value to attendees. The first step to creating excitement around your event comes from how well you plan it. How well do you know your audience? Are they Gen Xers or Millennials? What is it that they expect from events? The days of planning resonating events are no longer determined solely by your ideas. Instead, in order to create an event that is going to catch on with your target audience and generate a lot of excitement, you have to be in tune with what your audience wants.
For example, many millennials want events that give back to the community, have local food trucks, and engage the audience. If you build your events correctly, they will be off to a great head start. The best way to start gaining organic buzz about your event is to make it great from the get go. Not just great to you, but great in the eyes of your attendees. What would they love? If you don’t know the answer to this, send out a survey in an email to last years attendees and build from there.
Remember, people are willing to pay money to come and do whatever it is you are planning for them, so make sure they feel like they are getting a bargain for it.
Create an event that gives back. Attendees don’t only care about their own interests, but they also care about their community and the greater good. If you can partner with a charity, nonprofit, or organization to a charitable cause through your event, you will create goodwill. By partnering up for a cause, you could potentially get an article about your event before it takes place, and will get extra exposure by your charity advertising it as well.
By giving back, you show your attendees that you care more about the profit that you make and that you have social responsibility as a company. If you can find a cause seems like a logical choice for your event make the partnership, but if you can’t think of any specific cause that seems like a natural connection, don’t fret, any charitable cause is a good cause.
Create an event that engages. Food trucks and a band on stage don’t cut it anymore for engaging attendees. Yes, both of those ideas are fantastic ways to build up your event, however, if you are trying to generate buzz around your event, you need to stop hand-feeding your attendees and let them go out and have their own fun! There are different ways to do this, but you can make it more interactive for them. Instead of having attendees meander from one craft booth to the next looking at different crafts, give them a little passport that they get stamped at each booth they go to. If they get x amount of stamps, they are entered into a drawing or they get a prize. It doesn’t require a lot more effort or that much more funding, but it adds engagement to your event.
If your event is large enough, you can take this to a whole new level. Have you ever thought about doing a scavenger hunt within your event? Let your attendees make their own fun. While they don’t have to participate in these activities, you can give them an option to decide for themselves. As you do these engaging activities, you need to provide an incentive such as a prize or reward for finishing first.
If your event is smaller, you can display a live stream of Instagram or Twitter related posts. This gets people talking, features them in front of the audience, and shows the fun times people are having at your event.
All three of these ideas will better help you create an event that resonates and draws attention both before and during your event.
2. Build a Story.
Ethos. As an event maker, essentially, we are winning people over to come to our event through persuasion and appeal. On any given night there are dozens of options of other activities people could do instead of come to your event. What makes your event better than the other options they have? To get them interested, we have to take a little trip back to english class and recall the general summary of Aristotle’s appeals. The first is Ethos. the ethical appeal, which means convincing by character of the author, or in this case, the brand. Does your brand have any credibility? Do people know who you are?
A great example of using ethos for events is done by the Salt Lake City Arts Council. For years they have been putting on free or cheap concerts in downtown Salt Lake known as the Twilight Concert Series. Over time, they were able to establish a reputation for providing great concerts to attendees with a minimal price tag. Artists grew from small names, to known by a niche crowd, to known by the general population. Now, people actively search on Google for the new lineup to come out for the upcoming summer. The Twilight Concert Series built its own credibility and it has paid off as they get up to 40,000 people attending their concerts every Thursday night during the summer.
But what if this is the first time you are putting on an event or don’t have that reputation yet? A great way you can build your own reputation is by building secondary credibility. This is credibility through association, or in other words, credibility through your sponsors and partners. Maybe you don’t have the trusted name brand yet, but your sponsors do. If you can get the right sponsors and partners for your event, people will automatically start paying attention to you and your events. Leverage your sponsors to help build your own reputation. Once you have a reputation for putting on outstanding events, people will start to follow your events.
Image from https://blink603.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/ethos-logos-and-pathos-in-the-media/
Pathos. Pathos is an appeal to emotion and can be easily shared through your marketing efforts. Don’t be cut and dry, instead take a chance to really get in tune with people and get your message into their soul. How do you want to make them feel? One of the best marketing jobs appealing to pathos has to be Sarah McLachlan’s A.S.P.C.A. Animal Rescue commercials. Her commercial appeals 100 percent to how you feel. If you haven’t seen it, check it out below. After watching the video, all you can think of is how these poor little puppies and kittens need a safe place to live and grow. In fact, the commercial was so successful, it was A.S.P.C.A.’s most successful fundraising effort ever, bringing in over 30 million dollars between 2007 and 2008. If you have ignored trying to use pathos before, maybe those numbers will change your mind.
Pathos can be incredibly powerful, and as you look for ways to connect with potential attendees, it may be the most surefire way to reach them. Pathos doesn’t have to appeal to sorrow like in the video above, it can appeal in any emotion such as humor, excitement, or the fear of missing out. You may not have the budget to make commercials, let alone bring Sarah McLachlan into your commercials, however, you don’t have to. Thanks to the internet and social media, you can find much more affordable options and still create the same effect. Use your social media from blogs, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and more to share your story.
One of the fastest growing social media tools is Snapchat’s “Stories” feature. If you do events and you don’t have a Snapchat, it is time to get one. You can post pictures on Snapchat leading up to your event and they will stay on your story for up to 24 hours. You can create a story in that time frame, and build up your bigger story as your event draws near. You can only record up to 10 second clips, but Snapchat provides a serious way for people to follow you and an easy way to appeal to people's emotions.
Logos. The final element needed in creating your story comes from logos, or the power of persuasion through reasoning and logic. Logos was Aristotle’s favorite persuasion technique and for good reason: because giving reasons is the heart of persuasion. If you don’t give compelling reasons for potential attendees to come to your event, they won’t come. It’s that simple. There are many reasons why people could attend your event from the entertainment, performers, food, prizes, social atmosphere, beautiful venue, or more. But what are the most important features at your event? By rule, don’t choose more than three main ideas to try and persuade your audience in your advertising.
Notice that we didn’t just start listing different features of the event such as great food, a raffle, or new chairs. Remember, to persuade people to come to your event, you need to give them reasons that will appeal to them. Put on your debate hat and think of real selling points for people. What is in it for them? What are they reasons they are looking for a night out, but haven’t quite thought of themselves. You can put the words in their mouths for what they were thinking. People don’t go to the fair to win a raffle prize, they go because they want to create memories with their friends and family. People don’t go to a concert because a venue was remodeled, they go because they want to share music they love with people they love.
As you select the right reasons and story for people to attend your event, they will be more excited to go and attend your event, creating hype leading up to your event.
3. Share Your Story.
There are a lot of ways to share your story at your disposal once you have it written. You have an array of options to choose from both on and offline from Google and Facebook to flyers and sidewalk chalk. But which ones will help you create the most excitement for your event?
Email. The absolute first place to start is with last years attendees. You already have their emails and contact information, so make sure to reach out to them first. This technique applies directly to ethos (you thought we were done with this, didn’t you?). Since your attendees attended last year, you have already established credibility with them, and you won’t have to spend as much time persuading them to attend your event this year as you will new customers. You should offer them early bird discounts and can even provide them with an early bird discount promo code that they can share with their friends. By building goodwill this way, you establish more credibility, get return event attendees, and find new event attendees.
One of the bonuses of using email to reach your past event attendees is that you have a crowd that is willing to listen to what you have to say. If you share your story involving ethos, pathos, and logos with your current email list, more people will read it and have the story ready to share with others. You don’t have to share your whole story at once, but can send out a series of emails sharing it piece by piece. Split up the story so that it is easier to digest and make it fun along the way. If you can find a way for people to look forward to receiving your next email, you win.
Let others share your story through word of mouth as much as possible. Starting by sharing your story through email is the best way to start out.
Instagram. You may not like Instagram because it doesn’t provide an easy way to link directly back to your site. However, Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most used social media apps and can reach a large organic audience if you take the time to make your account relevant and great. Instagram features pictures and up to 15 second videos that can appeal directly to pathos. Images are worth 1000 words, so videos are worth something like 1.8 million words. You can capture and share all of the emotion you hope your attendees experience at your event through this one medium. Instagram is especially good at making people feel like they are missing out on life experiences. If you can twist your account to still capture that fear of missing out, but provide a solution for people to beat that fear, again you win.
Instagram posts weren’t meant to be wordy. Just like Twitter, try to keep your posts under 140 characters so people stay interested in what you have to say. Remember, with instagram your image or video should evoke the emotion you are hoping to share, while the words should complement it, not vice versa.
Facebook. Facebook drives 25 percent of all traffic to sites. Just to repeat: Facebook drives 1 out of every 4 site visits. That is a number that simply cannot be ignored no matter how anti-Facebook you may be. The best part about Facebook is that it appeals directly to logic. Yes, both ethos and pathos work on Facebook, but Facebook is the best platform to give reasoning to your story. People take time to read posts, like pictures, watch videos and share them with friends. You can use both paid advertising and organic reach to get people excited about your event.
Facebook is incredibly friendly to use if you want to include links in your post and is a great medium for leaving comments, RSVPing to your event, and sharing with friends. Ideally, you should post most if not all of your marketing posts on your Facebook page to increase awareness, share your story, and build excitement.
If you want to create more buzz around your event, you can always run a contest on your page before your event starts that includes having to share a post or like your page in order for participants to qualify for the prize.
Image from :https://blog.shareaholic.com/social-media-traffic-trends-01-2015/
Bonus: Pinterest. Facebook drives 25 percent of website traffic, which is by far and away the most of any social media network, but in second place is Pinterest, driving 5 percent of website traffic referrals. How are you supposed to share your story on Pinterest? Isn’t it just pictures? Yes, it is pictures, but Pinterest appeals to pathos much like instagram does. As you scan through pinterest pin boards, you will notice many titles that focus on “Bucket lists”, “To wear”, “To See”, “To Do”, “To Eat”. Essentially, Pinterest is a large picture list of individuals wish lists. Can you get your event onto somebody’s list? Can your story make it into somebodies collection?
Experiment and explore with each of these different ways of sharing your story to see what works best for you. Remember, if you want to create buzz before your event starts, you need to get posting these long before your event takes place.
Building excitement for your event is a function of your creativity. As you make your event unique from competing alternatives, you will draw more attention. People tend to enjoy having once-in-a-lifetime experiences, which is one reason why you see so many bucket lists on google searches. Creatively design your event so your attendees leave with an experience that could never be recreated quite the same way. Be novel, create something new with your event, and you will see the benefits of creativity.
Combine Two Events. 5k’s have been doing this perfectly. Instead of just running a race, people have been inventing races that make running more exciting and leave you with an experience you couldn’t get going on a run by yourself. The Color Run combined the Festival of Colors with a 5k, the Tough Mudder combined running with obstacles designed by British Special Forces, and the Stunt Run combines scenes from the show WipeOut to turn mundane running into an exciting challenge! The added bonus of combining two events is that you don’t just get the avid runners, but you draw in new crowds who are interested in the other aspect of your event. This is a great way to showcase the fun of your event.
Going along with this idea, you can also do something smart like the Festival of Colors and the Lantern Festival did with their events. They saw traditions and celebrations in other parts of the world that they noticed people wanted to experience on their own. Instead of letting their audience travel to far off places to experience these festivities, they decided to bring the festivities to them! These events are in tune with what the general public wants to experience. Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open to see what other people want to experience in their lives and take advantage of that.
Photo: Tough Mudder
Host at a Unique Location. You can get a lot of people talking about your event if you host it in a location people want to go and check out. Sometimes people get comfortable or even bored with venues for events. We get it, there are only so many places you can host an event, especially if it is large, but this is where you really need to brainstorm. Unusual venues offer that extra special something that impresses guests, and if they know it is at a place they might not normally have access to, people will start talking about your event.
Endless Entertainment talks about two different types of unique venue experiences to bring the extra wow factor to your event. The first type of non-traditional event venues is architectural spaces. These venues act as eye candy for the attendees and make them feel like they are in an incredible atmosphere. They definitely don’t get to be in these spaces every day. They could be warehouses, airplane hangars, rooftops, train stations, new modern buildings, or old classic buildings. The second type of non-traditional venues is experiential venues such as gardens, zoos, aquariums, museums, art galleries, farms, orchards, vineyards, ranches or more. These are places that people would normally visit, but not for the event experience. There are usually different attractions at these places that you can incorporate into your event if you choose, or just use them as a backdrop.
Photo: Tesla Foundation Group
Make Your Event Free. Yup, we really just said that. Before you think this is too crazy, read through and see how this can be a good move for you and your event. In 2013, Apple made their iTunes Festival completely free. In fact, the only way to get tickets to their event was if you won them. The result? More than 20 million people registered to attend. Granted, they also had many of the world’s most popular musicians performing, the idea is still valuable. In order to win a ticket you had to register online, and you bet they were collecting emails. Those 20 million emails became 20 million people to market to. If you can afford to to do a free event and have the big names that will draw interest, try going this route. It may not work for everyone, but there are definitely events this can work for.
If you don’t have the big names and the big budget, what are the benefits of having a free event? First, you get more people to come and attend because a price tag isn’t involved. However, in order for a free event to attract attendees, they have to see the value in it. Is your event something people would normally have to pay for? Secondly, this helps build your credibility. If you can provide great experiences for no cost, people will trust your brand. As time goes on and if you can get the right sponsors to make this sustainable, you can eventually start charging for tickets. This is the long run game and can work for some people, but it will help create buzz. People love free things if it provides value to them.
According to Merriam-Webster, crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the internet.
Let attendees build aspects of your event. One of the barriers of participation (in this case participation equals attending your event) is that people don’t feel involved at events. They go, they watch, and they leave. With the overall goal being to get more people to attend your event, one way to get people excited about it beforehand is to involve them by letting attendees build aspects of your event. This has become increasingly easier as social media makes communication with your attendees a simple click of a button. Last year, Lexus USA used crowdsourcing perfectly to draw a huge crowd for their exhibit at SEMA, one of the largest car shows in America. On their Instagram, Lexus USA would post pictures of different things from style of car, color of car, rims, wheels, seats, and more. By involving the crowd and having them build the car, Lexus drew in huge crowds to their exhibit because people wanted to see their work brought to life. It was a brilliant play, and Lexus still had much control over how the car would look. They weren’t giving free-reign to their Instagram followers, instead, they deliberately selected three of four different options that the crowd could vote for. Not only did they get attention at the show, their crowdsourced car got a lot of press. Can you do something like this for your event?
Rules of Crowdsourcing. The best way to get people involved in your crowdsourcing is to make it open to people who follow you on social media or on your website. There are different ways you can run your campaign. A few good ideas to keep in mind as you plan how to run your crowdsourcing campaign include:
Making it shareable. You want people to be able to share your campaign with friends or people they know would be interested in what you are doing. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make it really easy to share with other people. Twitter isn’t as easy for reading comments, but it can still work.
Hashtagging it. Strategize around which hashtag will work best for your event and your campaign. As people hashtag it, it’s possible it could start trending on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, bringing in even more attention. If you don’t have a hashtag, you are missing on potential attendees.
Keeping control. Lexus did a great job keeping the overall control over the car they made. Lexus only gave voters a few options to choose between so they could make sure their car still fit in with their brand. They didn’t let anything go too crazy. Don’t just hand over the keys when crowdsourcing, instead keep control while giving the crowd options to choose from.
As you look for creative ideas and new ways to build excitement prior to your event, you don’t have to put every tip in this article into practice. In fact, trying to do all of them would probably be too much to manage for one event. Take what you think will work best for you and apply it to your event and see the results.
What have you seen work well for you? What hasn’t worked so well? Tell us what you know below in the comment section!