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

5 steps to effectively leverage influencer marketing for events

Influencer marketing has taken a grip in many industries like F&B, automobile and fashion. We see the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Zoe Sugg rake in fortunes as the brands they work with become more visible. For the events industry, influencer marketing holds much promise. It can lend credibility to the event, bolster its presence amongst primary audience and add to the buzz so that this influence spillovers to your secondary audience by word-of-mouth.

But events come and go. Every few months, event planners plan a different event with a wholly different audience. There is little chance to continuously engage with influencers. However, for those events that will happen again in the future and is limited on budget, influencer marketing may be the most efficient way of reaching out. In order to do so effectively however is not easy.

1. Know your audience

Know your audience
Credits: digitalinformationworld.com

We must first know the audience we are targeting to get the right influencer. Who really is the audience? Where do they lurk? Cast your nets wide initially and test the waters. See which platform gives you the best response. A young audience need not always respond best to Facebook or Twitter. Pinterest may not be the best for selling crafts. Some listing website might be your main source of attendees.

Then, once you know your audience’s preferences and tastes and also where they are usually browsing, you are then in a better position to choose the influencer.

Event planners need to be extra context-sensitive. If it is a local event, go for local influencers as you can achieve more results by focusing on a niche audience rather than spreading yourself too thin.

2. Identify the influencer for your audience

influencer
Credits: Sharethis.com

Knowing your audience, what they are usually searching for and where they are lurking can help you establish some search terms or hashtags that are popular amongst the audience. This can be used to find your best influencer.

It’s best to choose influencers who are already fans of the event, event topic your company, or what your company stands for. That way, they can be more authentic. Plus they have already established some credibility in that domain and can transfer that credibility to your event.

Research on how the influencers usually post, what they are comfortable speaking about and their personality types. Are they educators, activists, testers, journalists, etc.? Then you will need to craft your content with them in mind.

3. Engaging the influencer

But more importantly, give the influencer some space when promoting the event. You can nudge them along but don’t cage them as it inhibits authenticity. You could:

-Provide giveaways linked to the event periodically such as tickets, backstage passes and VIP accesses, merchandise linked to event like a book by the speaker

– Meet up with influencer and post a photo with them on social media a week or two before the event to hype event-goers up

photo opp with influencer
Credits: VH1 Blog

– Long before the event, begin producing content related to the event and get your influencer’s endorsement or quotes. They will be more than glad to share content in which they are mentioned as an expert. Just remember to tag them or give them a shoutout when sharing!

– Choose a great theme that audiences will be excited about. This will enable the influencer to engage better with their audience. Well-crafted social media terms (hashtags, an events page) that are easy to remember and catchy will also allow influencers to drive more traffic to your sites.

4. Real-time influence

Get the influencer to the event and give them some airtime so that they can work their magic. List them as a speaker or allow them to have official coverage of your event. Provide an opportunity for them to make an official appearance onstage. Make sure everyone knows that the influencer is actively supporting your event!

microphone media
Credits: mrmediatraining.com

Your event also has room for other local influencers so remember to invite them! Live events are a great opportunity for influencers to come face to face with their audience as well as be involved in a larger scale event.

But it’s not just about the influencers working their charm, you should to! Take the chance to further solidify your relations with smaller-scale bloggers by speaking to them face-to-face, as well as giving the influencer the recognition and attention they deserve so that they will want to help you again next time and continue talking about you. It’s a great chance for everyone to come together and connect so network like crazy!

5. Post-event blues

Make sure you capture live content from the event itself to be repurposed later. Get team members to take footage or do a fun photo op with the influencer!

Then, build more content upon the event. This will add to expectations for the event to run again and help to sow the seeds for the next time.

Remember to continue engaging the influencer. With social media, it has never been easier to boast about your relationship with the influencer to the whole world. Retweet, reblog, share, comment and upvote each others’ content. Don’t forget to thank each other after the event as well (another opportunity to authentically mention influencer)!