The Biggest Event Marketing Mistake I’ve Ever Made

May 6, 2013   |   AUTHOR: Julius Solaris   |   POSTED IN: marketing

More than 10 years ago I worked as marketing manger for a conference. One small mistake cost us a lot of attendees. Want to know what was it?

Event Marketing Mistakes You Shouldn't do

I remember it was quite a while ago. I got hired as marketing person for a conference. I was specifically looking after the website.

At the time online was something really new for the industry. Websites were mostly brochureware. In fact most meetings, conferences and events just converted their brochure into a (dis)functional website.

I was quite excited to be working with an international conference. Don’t get me wrong, I had some experience already running informal and entertainment events, but this was my first shot at the meeting industry.

A Tale of A Website

I spent several days thinking about the conference website. At the time Flash was really hip and cool and there was no question about having an intro to your website.

These days I was sketching down the structure or site map that would eventually become the site.

Creating a mind map of all the sections and content that you will lay out in the website is usually a good practice. It helps to organize your ideas and to communicate better with web designers or developers.

While laying out the backbone of the site, I forgot about one of the sections that prospective attendees read the most…

Why Attend?

OK I admit, I completely forgot. I forgot to add one of the most crucial yet often times ignored event marketing communication pieces.

To be 100% honest I did not forget about it. I was really lazy and thought that my branding effort and beautiful Flash intro, together with some early bird discount would have convinced the masses to spend hundreds of dollars.

Guess what? It wasn’t the case.

A Common Question

This is possibly the most obvious question your prospective attendee will ask when evaluating a ticket purchase.

As consumers we need reasons to justify our purchases. Sometimes those reasons may be silly, some other times they are extremely reasonable. But this is not what we are discussing.

Savvy event marketers know that giving reasons to attend is instrumental to boost ticket sales. This is the case for both new or established events.

A Common Mistake

Research showed that:

[...] poor product information accounts for around 8% of usability problems and even 10% of user failure (i.e. the user gives up and leaves the website).

By not having enough information about our products we are effectively inviting users to leave. 10% sounds like a lot of profit/ticket percentage to me.

While we think we are delivering significant information about our event in the schedule/programme section of our marketing communications, still we are not defining what our service is about.

While in fact most tangible products do not need such definition (a computer is a computer, we can touch it, we know what it is), events crave for tangibility.

The ‘Why Attend’ section delivers touchable value to your event. It defines the experience, it frames the event in the mind of your audience, it gives a reason to click on ‘Buy Ticket’

Yet, this is an often times forgotten section.

Are You Prepared to Lose 10% of Your Ticket Sales?

Thinking that our audience will ‘get’ what we are talking about is flawed.

Thinking that a Flash intro or a nice design alone will do the trick is dangerous.

Thinking that our event sells itself is unrealistic.

I learned at my expense (we calculated that we lost 15% percent of website traffic due to this mistake) that we need to spend quite some time to write compelling ‘About’ and ‘Why Attend’ sections. They are the skin of our event the true motivator behind strong attendance.

If you convinced yourself this is a good practice I invite you to have a look at these two articles to understand why we attend events and give good reasons to do so.

  • http://hubb.me/ Joshua Ness

    Very good advice, Julius! I think asking the “WHY” question is important on so many levels, especially when it comes to event website UX. Managers need to ask themselves “why would a visitor or attendee do this? or click this? or download this?” at every turn. Thanks for the tip!

  • http://eventmanagerblog.com.com/ Julius Solaris

    Fully agreed :-)

  • http://twitter.com/alexkonetchy Alex Konetchy

    This is awesome. People don’t want to know what they’re buying they want to know why they’re buying it.

  • http://twitter.com/Gerdie LiveOnlineEvents

    Thanks Julius. I am sure I made the same misstake several times. And I noticed another Event Marketing Motivator which I sometimes miss: WHO should attend? Curious to hear your experiences with such a section.

  • http://eventmanagerblog.com.com/ Julius Solaris

    Completely agree, this section is often times missing or written with superficiality, yet it is crucial to define the audience that will show up.

  • http://twitter.com/BrightBull BrightBull

    Thanks Julius, we all have been guilty of it in the past. This situation is also present and common with email marketing campaigns. There is a tendency to speak about the features of an event instead of the benefits which address the WHY factor.

    We compiled our own list a little while back in after similar stories we’ve gather through colleagues and honestly myself during my time working for a conference company.
    http://hub.am/13dHvGH

  • http://eventmanagerblog.com.com/ Julius Solaris

    Nice one

  • http://www.facebook.com/graham.paige.14 Graham Paige

    Great points and somewhat of a confession of youth. … New environments can expose us for being ‘newbies’ and with social media, like the new concept of .websites’ so many years ago, we need to make mistakes to learn… thanks for the article

  • http://twitter.com/igniteimagesUK Ignite Images

    Completely agree.
    Happens all the time with websites I visit (not restricted just to events)