Planning events as a Growth Hacking Strategy for small businesses

Building customer relations that run deeper than the superficial newsletter greetings are getting more difficult today. The average consumer today is distracted, spoilt for choice and very busy. To effectively get a customer to return to your business again and again requires additional effort.

Events can help you cut through the noise online and offline. Through live events, you can attract potential customers and cultivate long-term relationships with existing customers. People continue to be attracted to actual human connection. And with online ticketing and registration solutions readily available online, event-goers can attend events more conveniently. Events offer businesses a great growth hacking strategy to achieve a stronger customer base and greater brand connection.

1. Use existing networks

You don’t have to do everything yourself. The best part about planning events is that you have a real reason to call up that emcee you met at a networking session last time, or that catering company your cousin runs.

Photo Source: investinhackney.org

And if you plan an event that really excites your target audience, they might actually help you plan and market it! Leverage on their networks and enthusiasm. For instance, Airbnb supports their users in planning meetups for people in certain locales, enabling them to have events in their name all around the world.

And as your event gains traction, you can start engaging your event attendees to be part of your event in different ways. For EventNook, our networking events brought together events people from all parts of the event industry and soon, we found an emcee, venue sponsors and event photography services for our subsequent events who would be willing to use our events as a platform to showcase their services.

Photo Source: sxsw.com

Social media is also a great way to tap on the networks of your event attendees. Prepare relevant social media channels and hashtags and encourage people to use it before, during and after the event! It’s free marketing so why not use it?

2. Small and intimate

As an event planner you don’t need to wrack your head planning a huge and spectacular event to achieve your goal of driving growth. Small and cozy events with a conducive environment for conversations will help your event goers form communities with each other and strengthen their relationship with your business because they get more individual attention from you. Moreover, you can save significantly on costs!

Photo Source: sxsw.com

3. Focus on what’s important

Focus on 1-2 things you want your event attendees to get out of your event. Do you want your event goers to experience your services, form connections with each other, or gain some valuable knowledge? What is the main takeaway for your audience?

Like in business, go lean with your event. Do away with unnecessary frills like a buffet dinner, or an entertainer even. But make sure to invest enough time and resources into helping your audience get what they came to get.

Photo Source: latergram.me

4. Partner up

Partnering up can double your market reach while reducing the work for each company. Moreover, your event will look more credible for the attendees. And you can make it event more useful to your event attendees by exposing them to a complementary service or product!

Just make sure to clarify expectations with partner businesses and communicate consistently before the event so that all partners are on the same page.

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Chill Out with Event Professionals: EventNook partners with Venuerific (a venue portal) and LiveLife (an event planning platform)

5. Incorporate branding

Tie back the event to your company. Have a definite plan about how you can generate sales from the event. Ensure the personality of your company comes through in the event. And make sure you brand, brand, brand! Your presentation slides, event venue, freebies and even the content of your event should show your company’s logo and link back to your overall brand.

If you want soft and kissable lips try this amazing homemade gloss and you will never want to buy tour lip gloss again! Enjoy!

For instance, consider giving away food vouchers as lucky draw prizes at the event if you are running a restaurant so that event attendees are encouraged to return. Or, giving away samples of your company’s product that may require customers to buy complementary products or return for re-fills can help increase customer retention.

6. Have fun!

Make your event useful, fun and enjoyable. A positive and comfortable (relaxed) experience is more likely to leave a long-lasting sense of joy in your event attendees’ lives and they will attribute this to you!

Photo Source: meetup.com

Events make people feel appreciated. By planning an event for the benefit of your customer segments, you show that your business genuinely cares. It can be incorporated into your growth hacking strategy. At the same time, by getting to know the people in the company, your business is humanised, and trust tends to strengthen. Even if you are on a tight budget, there is always a way to plan a killer event to drive business growth!

 

Want to start accelerating your business’ growth through events?

Whether it’s free or paid, EventNook can help you with online event registrationevent ticketing and onsite event registration and check-in!

 for Free events!

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How companies like Uber are driving growth using events

With Uber recently announcing the release of UberEVENTS, we take a closer look at how businesses, large and small, are using events to power their growth.

Airbnb

Airbnb is making full use of the power of intimate live events by organising and helping their users organise meetups and gatherings for Airbnb users. Past events include “A toast to London”, “Colombo Get-Together @ Lemon Bar” and “DC Host Appreciation Social @ Hoban’s!“. Airbnb knows how to leverage the power of events to strengthen their community of users, which helps build brand loyalty and increase customer retention.

Airbnb Meetups Page
Airbnb Meetups Page

Most businesses don’t have the luxury of Airbnb’s size and growth to afford planning this many events for their users. However, what we can learn from Airbnb is to let our networks and users do the work for us. Tap more extensively into your network of users and encourage them to plan events through one or two passionate community managers that you hire.

Uber

Recently launched in late September 2015, UberEvents is a service that allows organizers to buy and secure car passes ahead of the occasion to send to guests, clients or whoever needs one to get to the location via email.

This is great for exposing Uber’s services to the event-goers who use their service when they attend a particular event.

Photo Credits: engadget.com

 

Ramada Singapore At Zhongshan Park

Local businesses in Singapore are also exploiting the power of events to market themselves. Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park, a hotel in Singapore, is currently organising the Ah Hood Burger Challenge on 28 Nov 2015, a burger eating contest to promote their Ah Hood burger stall.

 

Upcoming Event on 28 Nov 2015
Upcoming Event on 28 Nov 2015

By giving away Flavours At Zhongshan Park vouchers as the prize, they also promote the other restaurants in their hotel.

The event is a great way to get people to know about them as well as to bring them back with the prizes given away at the event! By planning a competition, they can also leverage on the networks of the participants who will bring their family and friends down for support. And how do they do that? By offering a package for families and friends to enjoy the food without stuffing their stomachs till they explode.

Pigeon Singapore

Pigeon Singapore, producer of Mother and Baby Care Products, hosts the SG Mass Latch On in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week annually. The event sees mothers of all walks of life come together to latch on their babies at the same time.

Planning social gatherings and meetups for mothers creates a positive branding effect for Pigeon amongst their main target group. They are seen as the champion of women and mothers in Singapore. By organising it in conjunction with a worldwide event, they can also leverage online opportunities for marketing. They are also able to use the event giveaways to promote their breastfeeding products.

 

Oktoberfest (Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten)

Oktoberfest, the most famous beer festival and travelling funfair which happens in Munich from late September to October every year is an extravagant display of the biggest beer brands in Munich. It draws millions of people from all around the world for weeks of beers, Bavarian culture and carnival rides. Imagine the market reach for the beer brands involved!

One thing we can learn from these brands is the power of collaboration. The event is so successful because it brings together the best of Munich’s breweries. They draw on each other’s brand power to create a bigger entity that they cannot create alone.

Visitors wearing traditional Bavarian clothes raise their  beers in a festival tent at the start of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, southern Germany. This year's edition of the world's biggest beer festival Oktoberfest will run until October 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/GettyImages)
Photo Credit: losangeles.cbslocal.com

These beer brands have created a legacy brand on the back of a highly successful event. Both the beer brands and the event Oktoberfest have now become synonymous with Bavarian culture.

 

Events are a powerful tool in every business’ arsenal. Use them in a way that builds a community for your business and you will witness increasing brand evangelism, recurrent purchases and higher brand awareness.

How can you leverage events for your business? Stay tuned for the next part of this article to find out more!

 

Want to start accelerating your business’ growth through events?

Whether it’s free or paid, EventNook can help you with online event registrationevent ticketing and onsite event registration and check-in!

 for Free events!

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How to turn event-goers into event-gelists (event evangelism marketing)

Event evangelists (event-gelists) do such a great job with evangelism marketing, they might in fact be angels sent down from event planner heaven. Event-gelists are event-goers who market the event to their friends on their own accord, defend the event and its PR troubles to their deaths, and bring in ticket revenues repeatedly.

Event-gelists have the authenticity and connections that a sales team doesn’t. They understand the market in ways you can’t. Building event loyalty is at the heart of nurturing event-gelists. The more event-gelists you have, the more self-sustaining your event marketing strategies become.

1. Relate on an emotional level

Events that resonate emotionally find a more loyal event following. Emotional marketing language is important in helping you connect with event-goers. Emotions such as excitement, sadness, embarrassment and compassion are strong levers of action. Charity runs, events like Singapore’s Pink Dot that centers around a controversial issue, and TED conferences that evoke thought and perspectives that link to social issues and impact are clear people winners.

daily mail
Pink Dot SG in support of Singapore’s LGBT community Photo Credits: Daily Mail UK

It’s much harder for a corporate event organiser to connect emotionally. But as long as you develop empathy for your event-goers and address their professional woes in an open manner, your events-goers will see your relevance and view you as an event organiser that is in the loop. This develops greater trust and credibility for your event and helps you stand apart from most events that do not address real problems.

connection, emotional
Connecting with your audience emotionally is key to building a loyal following Photo Credits: dontcatchafallingknife.tumblr.com

Targeting a smaller segment of your potential market can also help you win more loyal followers. Niche events tend to generate a much more loyal following because people feel like they own the event. If they see it as a part of their identity, they will feel more compelled to share it with their networks. You may sacrifice mass appeal in the process but don’t underestimate the power of event-gelists who can potentially infect a wider network with their enthusiasm and passion. At the same time, choose a niche that people are genuinely passionate about.

Woodworking event
Woodworking event Photo Credits: Wits Woodworking Association

By thinking about how you connect with your audience and doing so on a deeper level, your ties with your community become much stronger and your event becomes much more influential.

 

Niche Star Wars event Credits: Orlando Sentinel
Niche Star Wars event
Photo Credits: Orlando Sentinel

2. Know your event-goers and identify potential event-gelists

But before planning the event, you need to peer into the brains of your event-goer (or potential event-goer). Then, sift out the event-goers who may become event-gelists. Identify their characteristics and ask what is still preventing them from becoming event-gelists.

You can do so in a few ways:

  • Interview those in target group

  • Read event reviews. If it is the first time you are organising the event, look at reviews for similar past events
  • Haunt the target group’ favourite places, online and offline for clues to what they are looking for

  • Engage them by creating communities (online groups like Meetups and Facebook groups, LinkedIn)

  • Hire temporary staff who are part of this group (and adequately competent of course)

  • Consult influencers about the target group

  • Analyse big data to understand demographic patterns

By relating on an emotional level while keeping your eyes and ears close to the ground, you can develop a personality for the event that resonates with your target group. Redbull markets its energy drinks as a booster that gives people ‘wings’ to do crazy things. Its most famous event, Flug Tag, which involves people building flying machines and pushing it off a pier, is precisely designed with their target audience in mind, the crazy and adventurous people who do outrageous things, or like watching others do outrageous things.

flug tag, redbull
Redbull organised Flug Tag as an outrageous and crazy event so that it attracts anyone with a sense of adventure to watch and participate, the exact people who will find Redbull’s energy drink and marketing appealing

 

3. Communicate that personality

Don’t hardsell your event. Instead, exude a personality. Social media and forums are a great way to push out this personality because you can share personalised and useful content regularly. You also get to interact one-on-one with your target group, which makes your presence online seem more genuine.

You could also plan mini events in the leadup to the big event such as by having meetups or classes that link thematically with the big event to communicate event branding. It’s a great way to hype them up by giving them a taste of what’s to come. It also gives you the opportunity to understand their reservations and resolve them beforehand.

Influencer marketing can also help you reach out to your target group. I previously wrote about influencer marketing in greater detail here. Influencers are trusted communicators in the community and if you successfully engage them, they could even even become your event-gelists! Their insight into the head of your targeted event-goer can be extremely valuable.

Associate yourself as much as you can with things, topics and people that are linked to your event personality and branding to get the word out!

4. Brand the event

That means being consistent with branding on all platforms when marketing events. Achieving a balance between customising the experience to individuals and being relevant to the entire group at the same time is very challenging. That’s why long-term communication is important to event promotion as it enhances trust, shows commitment and creates more opportunities for you to successfully connect with the different individuals within the targeted community.

While I have mentioned developing an emotional connection, event merchandise can augment the personality as well. Again, make sure it is consistent with the brand you are projecting. Merchandise like flower crowns at music festivals, T-shirts at conventions, glow sticks at night runs etc. are things that event-gelists can collect and easily show off. These collectibles are another avenue to increase excitement for the event.

flower crown, hipster, music festival
Flower crowns are popular amongst young girls at music festivals Photo Credits: becauseimaddicted.net

 

5. Long-term engagement to build long-term followers

Ultimately, you do not gain a loyal event following overnight. Event organisers need to continuously engage with the community in a consistent and genuine manner to nurture event-gelists, who are not just loyal to your event but loyal to the company because they know you have their best interests at heart. Support your event-gelists and produce useful and meaningful content and products to sustain customer loyalty.

 

6. Plan a kickass event

No matter how much community engagement and event marketing you do, the quality of the actual event is what keeps people coming back. So plan a good event that is enjoyable and demanded by event-goers and your event will fall in place!

Event evangelism Pinterest