When people call us about hiring a speaker, there are several questions I always like to ask. Most are predictable. But one surprises almost everyone.
If you’ve been reading our six-part series on hiring a speaker the right way, you know the process is filled with unexpected details. One area that too many speaker coordinators neglect is event marketing and support. In fact, it’s a separate service you can get independent of booking a keynote. This involves getting audience members in the room, and taking care of those in attendance–as well as your presenters.
But back to the question that leaves people speechless: How do you plan to fill the room? This is a hard question because event planners are often focused on the experience in the room, but not the messaging that will drive people to the room. Here are some tips to make event marketing work:
Start by building your registration system. You need some mechanism to confirm an individual’s intentions. If they plan to be there (an “RSVP”), you need to know. If they can’t make it (a “decline”) you need to know that too. Registration systems may be as simple as a whiteboard and a call list, or as complex as an online form. But in either case, you need to determine how you will keep track of who is coming.
Develop a messaging campaign. At the minimum, every single event requires three messages to the audience. The announcement explains the program and describes how to register. The confirmation lets people know that their intentions (accept/decline) have been received. The reminder should go out just before the event to nudge those people who might forget and to build some excitement before arrival.
Determine your check-in process. Some events are best when registrants are matched to a list. This may be helpful if they have paid in advance, and also to manage walk-ins. You might also have materials–such as nametags, handouts, or promotional items–that are distributed when individuals arrive. And in some cases you need to collect information, tickets, or completed worksheets from individuals on their way in the door.
Confirm attendee logistics. Remember that your audience hasn’t been planning this program for months. They may need signage to find their way to the right room. They may need volunteers to be able to direct them to the restroom. They may need reminders about the schedule or any expectations you have for them.
Establish your “Green Room” plan. Whether you have one speaker or a dozen, whether you have an audience of ten or an audience of a thousand, you’ll want to figure out where your speakers will be throughout the entire event. This may include a place for your presenters to be before the event and it might include a spot for them to be after they speak to greet people and sell books.
Of course, there’s lots more you can do. You might need options in your registration system based on individual preferences. You might want to have special messages to thank people after they attend. You might consider a special handout with day-of reminders. And you might include thank you gifts in the green room for your speakers.
Whatever you do, event marketing and support is an essential part of the process. It’s too often overlooked. Make sure it’s on your radar when planning your next event.