Tech City UK Blog

We caught up with Kyle Gawley, CEO of Get Invited (an event registration service), to hear his advice on how startups can guarantee the success of their events with five simple steps

With the UK events industry now generating over £40 billion annually, more UK businesses are organising their own events to increase brand awareness, grow their network and generate profit.

However, running a successful event is no easy task, and the biggest obstacle is getting people to attend. I’ve compiled a list of my top five tips to help you market your event online and build a community of highly engaged attendees to ensure your event is a memorable one.

1. Research your audience 


The most important aspect of organising any event is gaining an understanding of your audience. This will inform everything from your marketing strategy to the choice of food you serve.

Fortunately, this is easy to do. If you’re running a marketing conference for example, then you should research and engage with marketing professionals on social media sites, blogs and forums.

What do you need to know? 

  • Basic demographics (age, gender, location)
  • What are they interested in? (both professionally and personally)
  • What other events do they attend?
  • What social networks are they most active on?

2. Create an event plan? 


Getting people to register for your event is only part of the problem. You need to drive consistent engagement up until, during and after your event.

According to Doorkeeper, only 52% of registered attendees for paid events show up on the day.

So, what’s the best way to promote your event and keep your attendees engaged? Content.

With a clear picture of your audience and their interests, you can devise a plan for delivering relevant content to engage them. This doesn’t mean you bombard people with updates about your event. You should deliver content they find valuable.

What type of content should you share?

  • Industry blog posts, white-papers and eBooks
  • Interviews with speakers or videos of past talks
  • Videos and photographs from previous events
  • Infographics
  • Slidedecks
  • Content that’s relevant to their personal interests
  • Event updates (new speakers, and tips, like the best local restaurants)

Build a mailing list for your audience using a tool like Mailchimp and send regular content via email in addition to sharing it on your social media profiles.

Your ultimate goal here is to create content that people will share, enabling you to reach a wider audience and ultimately sell more tickets.

3. Engage with Your Attendees on Social Media


With 93% of event professionals now using social media for at least one of their events, it’s evident this is a powerful tool for content delivery and engagement.

What can you use social media for at your event?

  • Sales and marketing
  • Facilitating Q&A sessions
  • Receiving feedback from attendees

What tactics can you use to engage your attendees?

  • Run competitions: free ticket giveaways or a chance to meet with a speaker. Ask people to share posts for a chance to win, or ask them to submit their own content. You could offer spot prizes for the most entertaining photo taken at your event and posted to Twitter.
  • Offer discounts and incentives – like Earlybird tickets for your followers.
  • Ask questions about what they’d like to see at your event.
  • Respond to updates your attendees post on their own profiles

Some tips:

  • Managing social media is time-consuming. Set aside time each day to respond to comments and engage with people. Use a tool like Buffer to schedule posts in advance and save time.
  • Focus on establishing a highly engaged presence on the networks your audience are most active on, rather than spreading yourself too thin and trying to use them all.
  • Use the free analytics tools with each social network to measure engagement (which posts get the most link clicks, shares or replies) and also which posts are driving ticket sales. Figure out what’s creating the best results and do more of it.

4. Build Relationships with Key Influencers


One of the most powerful ways to market your event is to leverage influencers in your industry and market to their network.

This requires that you build these relationships in advance. You shouldn’t be reaching out to people you don’t know and asking them to share a link to your event.

Instead, provide value to them and make yourself visible. Respond to their tweets, post comments on their blog and share their content.

Build the relationship, then let them know about your event and you’ll have a much higher chance of them helping you. Don’t forget to ask your speakers and sponsors for help too.

“Don’t leave promoting your event until after its launch, instead get the story started in advance. Building a relationship with key influencers – by sharing sneak previews – is not only a great way to gather useful feedback, but helps to raise awareness and build buzz.”

– Christopher Murphy (Organiser, Break Conference)

5. Create a Hashtag for Your Event


A hashtag is a versatile tool to curate all of your content and feedback, and to create a consistent touchpoint for attendees to engage with you and each other.

Use your hashtag in all your updates, so when people engage, the conversation will generate buzz about your event.

How to create the perfect event hashtag: 

  • Make sure no one else is using it
  • Use #youreventname or as close to it as possible. Append the date if you’re struggling to find a unique hashtag. #myconf2015
  • Display your hashtag on all your marketing materials and at your event on presentation slides and printed banners
  • Consider using Tweetwall to display a live feed of your hastag. This is a great way to engage attendees during your event.

If you follow these 5 steps you’ll be on your way to running a successful event with an audience of happy, engaged attendees who will also help to market your event for you.

Kyle Gawley is the CEO of Get Invited, an event registration service that has served customers across the globe, including the world’s largest startup conference, LAUNCH Festival in San Francisco.