We received this question for Robert Wahmann who is President of the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network, Inc:
For the past 6 years I have been privileged to run a small non-profit group that helps spread awareness of carcinoid cancer. We do patient conferences and other events. As part of Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Month in November there will be a walk, a gala fundraiser and a patient conference on Long Island, NY. Maximizing attendance is a challenge. Any tips to help us get more people enrolled for these events?
Thirty years ago the options for reaching people were both simple and expensive. Today it is a bit more complex because options for promoting your event are endless and to be effective you must reach the members of your target audience in the way they like and want to receive communication. Of course the good news is it has become less expensive to reach people today than ever before.
In the busy world we live in there is intense competition for the attention of any targeted audience. Because of this it takes a balanced and thought out approach to reach your audience and get their attention. Whether you are a non-profit or for profit, the tools you have available range from the expensive like advertising and direct mail, to the inexpensive like article marketing, email and social networking. For best results you should be utilizing all of these tools in a comprehensive campaign. The key is developing a strategy in advance and then executing that strategy with consistent daily action.
Since we don’t have time on this podcast to deep dive into a marketing plan for your event, here are a few thoughts that should help you get started.
Messaging: There is an immense amount of informational clutter that you have to cut through. One of the things I love about Twitter is how it teaches us to get our messages down to 140 characters or less. Short, sweet and effective is the name of the game in getting the attention of the people you are targeting. Take time in advance to develop your message so that when you do get the attention of your audience you don’t squander the opportunity.
Niche Marketing: At my advertising company www.ReachSales.com
we work with organizations who are primarily interested in reaching salespeople. For instance we are currently helping a major CRM company balance multiple channels to effectively reach their audience of sales leaders. The fact that we even exist is a tribute to the way the internet has made it easier and more efficient to reach niches. To promote your event look for organizations, blogs, websites, social media groups, networks etc… that reach your niche. And trust me, there is a niche or multiple niches for everything - even folks who are interested in supporting Carcinoid Cancer Awareness on Long Island.
Ask For Help: I know this may sound like a blinding flash of the obvious, but I am constantly amazed that people don’t pick up the phone and ask for help. If you are trying to promote an event there are a lot of folks out there who can help you. All you need to do is ask. They key however is to have a specific request. You need to be able to tell them exactly what you want.
Article Marketing: Never forget that content is king and there is an insatiable appetite for good content, especially from experts. One of the fastest ways to develop relationships and get noticed in your niche is to write regular articles and submit them to social media groups, blogs, websites, professional organizations, and newsletters. And by giving value in the form of content up front it is likely that you will be given value back in the form of promotion for your event.
Public Relations: One of the most effective forms of promotion is to get someone else to tell your story. While most people think that it takes a ton of money to generate PR it is surprising how much can be done on your own. Websites like PRleads.com and HelpaReporterOut.com will send you queries from reporters who are doing stories on your particular area of interest. In addition there are dozens of websites that make it easy to distribute press releases. And if your event is of particular interest to the community just pick up the phone and call your local news outlets and ask them to do a story on your event or mention it in their community calendar. Do it yourself PR takes time and lots of persistence but it works if you stick with it.
Speaking: There are dozens of organizations from large to small who meet regularly in your community. These organizations are almost always in desperate need of quest speakers. Speaking in person to groups is perhaps the most powerful and effective means of getting people to take action. You’ll likely find that people in the audience will want to sign up for your event on the spot. All you need to do is call and ask to get on their calendar. It is important to make sure that your speech is not just a 30 minute long advertisement for your event. It should be engaging and deliver value. I suggest checking out the Public Speaker Podcast here on Quick and Dirty Tips.
In the end, effectively promoting your event, or for that matter anything is a combination of a good plan, a balanced use of tools, creativity and imagination, persistence and hard work in the form of consistent daily action.
by Jeb Blount