Promoting an Event with No Paid Advertising Using Soul Marketing
Not every event we work on is intended for tens of thousands of attendees – we also work on more targeted, global scale events with clients who don’t have the same levels of budget. We thought this success story was a perfect way to explain how soul marketing works, and how we leaned into a client’s advocates to promote an event with no paid marketing or advertising.
Here’s how we did it:
Managed the expectation
There’s always a bit of a stomach drop when a client mentions wanting to proceed without paid advertising – a combination of nervousness and pure excitement for the challenge. The first thing we did was set the expectation that while we have a few ways to connect with the intended audience at a minimal cost, spending more on promotion would obviously lead to higher registration. Managing this from the beginning helped to set us up for the rest of the event when it came to setting metrics to determine success.
Utilized what we already had
From social media platforms to advocates of the brand, we left no stones unturned when it came to utilizing what we had. This included our marketing assets. When having promotional assets created (messaging, banners, social media graphics, etc.) we thought about what our social media strategy would look like, and how we could encourage others to get involved and spread the word beyond just engaging with our posts. We knew speakers would be excited to share that they were taking part in the event, so we provided them with branded, customizable social media templates, as well as a document with best practices and sample posts they could use. We armed our advocates to extend our reach and bring in new people.
A three-minute promotional video was one of the only marketing spends, and it turned out to be one of our best tools. The full-length video was put into a blog containing all the event information and a link to register on the event website. The link to the blog was then included in our social media plan. Once the full-length video was shared, we then sliced it into four shorter videos and added bumpers to use them for social media friendly viewing and to spice up our Twitter feed.
Simplified call to action
Perhaps one of the most valuable things we did… every single tweet that went out included the link to register for the event. We knew that if people had to search for the link, they just wouldn’t or there was a chance of them getting lost or distracted along the way. Our goal was to make it as simple as possible for people to register – one click. Directing people back to the event website also allowed us to provide all the details that we couldn’t squeeze into a measly character count.
Whether the event is virtual or in-person, humans seek connection, so we are always sure to give them that. Our hashtag for the event became the face of the campaign – a simple hashtag that let attendees know that they were part of the community, a part of something larger than themselves. It sparked conversation within the community, encouraged past attendees to share their favourite memories, and created a thread through the entire campaign.
This campaign was scrappy, we did what we could with what we had, and we ended up with more than double the target goal of attendees! We’ll call it a win for the NMI team – how can we help you turn customers into fans next?