Perhaps an odd title, as well as an odd subject. But if I can help you avoid the fatal mistakes – the event killers – that are within your control, everyone wins. Here they are, as well as how to avoid them.
1) Allocating too little time between an event’s announcement and when it takes place.
This is unlikely to happen with large shows where venue commitments are determined and published years in advance. But I occasionally see this issue with small-to-midsize shows, particularly those involving new launches. For additional information on determining when to launch an event, see this article.
2) Announcing an event after most marketing budgets are closed and most event participation decisions have been made.
Associated with problem #1, this highlights that the first and most fundamental analysis needed to support securing a venue commitment is the knowledge that your prospective exhibitors and attendees can earmark the costs of exhibition/attendance. It is far preferable to be included in decision processes before budgets for the year are set in stone. Otherwise, you are looking for your prospects to expand their budgets or displace another marketing commitment already made.
3) Selecting a venue that is hard to get to or is unpopular.
I’ve attended a number of events that required considerable travel time and tight connections to reach venues where I just wanted to arrive, do the show, and return home. Though the most accessible and best locations are often the most expensive, consider the appeal of a venue before selecting it. Also note that our current contentious political climate has generated resistance amongst some about certain destinations (e.g., Florida, Texas and other states.) Whatever your political views, ensure you have factored in how a location might affect sales and attendance before you sign the venue agreement.
4) Scheduling an event on or near a major (or minor) holiday period.
This is a no-brainer, particularly with respect to Fall events. Dates near holidays may often be the only ones available, but be careful.
5) Lacking a comprehensive marketing plan.
Event success requires a charted project plan, milestone dates, and a budget analysis of expected attendee acquisition costs, projected revenue per attendee, a plan B budget, persona work, and an omni-channel marketing strategy. However, you would be shocked at the number of events lacking a comprehensive marketing plan. Unfortunately for all of us, attendees and – now – exhibitors often wait until the last minute to commit. Yet we still need to be measuring ourselves against a comprehensive marketing plan. As an example, any prospective marketing staff that I consider hiring for launch events must show me a previous executed marketing plan as a hiring prerequisite. I am shocked at the number who cannot. My own consulting experience has shown that the lack of a marketing plan is the primary cause of poor attendance.
6) Having no ongoing plan to speak with targeted attendees in person and frequently.
If you are a regular reader of my articles, you may have grown weary of my exhortations to ‘get out from behind your spreadsheets and get to know your attendees personally’. I keep asserting it because it is not happening enough. And that is a bit ironic, given we work in an industry that champions doing business face-to-face. Analytics driven by data from the past should not be the only thing determining what you do in the future. Engage directly with your market participants and learn first-hand what drives their decisions.
7) Offering stale content.
This often is a byproduct of the lack of one-on-one engagement mentioned above. If you don’t know what is happening in your market, you are likely unable to develop the elements of your event that attendees will find compelling. Are you getting feedback from attendees/exhibitors that can guide the content innovation that will spark interest in your event?
8) Putting up with a dirty database.
Another marketing issue is the impact of the Great Resignation in terms of people in your prospect/customer database(s) who have retired, changed jobs, or left the industry. Have you the plan and mechanisms needed to secure new prospects to attend or exhibit at your events, which follow data regulations? Do your events have a lead target? Marketing for your events should have such a goal for each campaign, much like each of the exhibitors who will participate in your shows have a lead goal for each event.
Avoid these event killers if you want your events to survive! Good Luck…..