How to Increase Attendance at Corporate Events
20+ ways to get people to an event
A half empty room is a fear of all corporate event organisers. These tips, including celebrity endorsements and reducing no shows, will alleviate the worry. Most of them can be applied to planning a meeting, as well as organising a social event.
They provide a guide to put a strategy together. Prompting on aspects you might not have previously thought of, or have overlooked.
How will people benefit from attending? Make sure that the professional relevance of the event shines through. You can add bells and whistles, but if the event’s relevance is not immediately apparent, or it is stale or irrelevant, you are wasting your time.
Alongside the business benefits are the merits of meeting like-minded individuals and commercial opportunities. Allow ample time for this and signal it in promotions. If you are running a meeting longer than two hours you will need some form of a break, so give it value.
Devise a strategy with a timeline. Vary content stressing what is of interest, exciting and relevant. Monitor data from your email marketing software. See what information gets read and passed on and adapt your messaging if need be.
How does your target market like to communicate? What is the most effective use of time and budget? Email is cost effective. A letter or postcard is a rarity these days and a handwritten one even more so.
Create as many reasons to attend as possible. A keynote speaker giving your event credibility…a celebrity appearance or entertainment…a new product or update on new legislation. Make sure these reasons are capitalised on in your marketing.
Get stakeholders such as delegates, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors to promote to their colleagues and contacts. Consider trade associations and press support, this could be a contra deal e.g. a presence at the event in return for their promotion.
It is pointless filling a day for the sake of it. Taking less time out of the office has advantages for attendees. Not only that, it will also help get senior management support to attend, if that’s a consideration. Choose a date that works and promote it early with a “Save the Date”. Avoid religious holidays, sporting events and especially competing events, unless your event compliments it.
Make it personal
Graphically enhanced teasers and invites serve a purpose. Don’t ignore plain text emails. Keep them short and direct as though you are speaking solely to the recipient to encourage a response. Ask open ended questions. Make it as relevant and personal as time permits. A phone call before the registration deadline (so it doesn’t look like a panic) also helps increase take up.
Optimised for all types of devices, keep the site current with programme updates, who is coming, blogs from speakers, sponsor and exhibition information
Make it easy to reply /register, to avoid “drop offs” and lost custom, as well allowing for questions and multiple registrations.
Enable delegates to participate and share information through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and assess their value.
Event apps provide engagement through personalised agendas, speakers bios, Q&A’s, surveys, networking and other neat functionality.
Evolve & progress
For events which run regularly and attract the same audience publicising format changes are welcomed, if they enhance and serve a purpose.
Quotes and footage from happy customers are attention grabbers and add credibility. Bear future projects in mind by filming at your next event.
Promote and offer an extra incentive. This could be a free product sample, access to downloads to share with colleagues post event, free reports.
Charge to attend
For free events consider charging. Paying even a nominal sum can help reduce the no shows and increase attendance at corporate events.
Will invitees miss out from not being there? Use peer pressure by letting prospective attendees know who’s coming.
Early bird deals
Early bird packages enable you to get the “quick wins” booked in. You can then focus on persuading those that are harder to convince. Offers can be in the form of a discount, a promotion or gift.
Minimise no shows
Keep attendees updated in the final lead up, say 2 weeks, 1 week, 3 days and the day before. This should keep you updated of any change. Don’t suggest substitutes if they can’t attend. That can come if they do pull out.
Know your audience
Lastly and a precursor to everything already said is know the profile of your audience. It will define your target market. It will also define your approach and which of these tips will work best for you.