They were disappointed. virtually no one turned up at their event. The team, some of whom had come from overseas, outnumbered those who came to join them.
Well it was not the quality of the event. It was brilliant. Those who did attend benefited greatly from it. The problem was that the attempts to get the word out about it had not worked as well as they could have done. The thing is that publicity is a lot harder than most people believe it is.
I am going to look at what I saw from the perspective of an attender at this event to see what can be learnt from this experience. These are the challenges I faced when I looked at the announcements.
I did not know the organisers
They had suddenly popped up on a Facebook page I read regularly saying they were doing something near me. I had no idea who they were and when I asked my friends they did not either. OK that is not that surprising as I don’t live on their doorstep. There was nothing I saw that would encourage me to trust them.
Of course there were people there who did know them and did trust them and came along. However, those were relationships built up over time. That is the problem. We expect people to see what we are doing and jump at the opportunity but people are not like that.
They are cautious they take their time getting to know people. That is why web sites, and social media communities even newsletters are so important. They give people the opportunity to look around and get a better handle on who you are and what to expect before going to an event.
OK you get the brave or just plain reckless people like me turning up, but thankfully there are not many people like me.
It was a challenge getting there
I am not a city person. I visit occasionally because I have to. Cities are busy and offer too many choices too quickly when you are driving.
I have not bothered setting up the navigation capabilities on my phone and boy did I regret on my first attempt to find them. I simply never got there! I drove round for about 5 hours to do a journey that should have taken an hour each way. Oops
I did look online and get some directions but I printed them on 2 sheets and then got them muddled and by the time I asked for help I was many miles away from where I needed to be. That city was a lot bigger than I thought that it was. OK I was able to have a good look around and saw of a lot of the city so gained a better impression of what it was like.
It was hard to work out what was going to happen at the event
I had never heard of the speakers. I did not know the reputation of the place where they had come from. OK the organisers did but they did nothing to help me by reminding people about this. This did not help develop the trust factor for me either.
The thing is once we know something and have it firmly stuck in our mind we think everyone else has. But they don’t There are always new people coming along like me who need to be told for the first time. There are also people who have been around for while who need to be reminded as well. It is so easy to take things like this for granted and then get into a muddle
It was hard to work out where to go to and when
There was a Facebook event page that listed the whole as a single event. Oops it was a single event but it was divided into a number of separate parts. It would have been so much easier if they had each been listed as separate events on one Facebook page.
Nearly two weeks of events were concentrated on one Facebook post. I could not just say I was going to one event it had to be all of them. That made it hard for them to judge the response to their publicity attempts.
Once I saw how good it was I went back to the Facebook page to see if there were more opportunities to attend an event. Oh there were dates and a place but no times. Oh no, now what do I do? OK leave a comment asked for clarification of course but that is something that only those who are really keen to know more will bother to do.
What could be done better?
You will already have gathered some ideas on what not to do but here are some more tips on improving the publicity for your event.
Work out who you want to attract to you event
For anyone involved in marketing this is really basic stuff but it is surprising how few people outside the marketing world understand this basic concept. The idea is to sit down and think about who you want to attract. Are they young or old? Male or female? Do they live in your city or some miles away? How much do they know or understand about what you have to offer already?
Some say that one way to do this is to sit down and visualise who they are. Others in the business world dress up dolls to remind them who their customers are and leave the doll where they can see them. It does not really matter how you do it but somehow you have to work out who these people are. Once you do that it you can move to the next step.
Think about the needs of who you are inviting
You can probably tell that although they were pleased to see me I arrived without my needs being met. So what were my needs.
I wanted to be sure that it was worth travelling many miles to join in. What would I gain from this event? How would it help me?
Of course you will always get people who have motives that you might not expect. One of mine was to get to know people in the wider community who might be interested in what I was doing and whom at a later date would be willing to work with me.
Once I had made that decision I needed to know details like when does the event start? What about things like food and drinks so that I can plan ahead and work out what to take with me if anything. What about car parking?
Work out how you are going to communicate with them
Once you know who you want to communicate to you can work out how you are going to do it. Are you going to use Facebook or twitter or another social media website? Are you going to use primarily images or primarily text?
What about where you share your message? Have you already joined relevant Facebook groups and participated in them so that people can get to know you better? Have you set up groups or pages to help you spread the word in good time? Have you got an email list or another list of contacts you can send things to? Have been putting some effort into doing the research needed to make the contacts you need to make your event a success?
It is so easy and yet it is so hard to get absolutely right
I have been around the block a few times in terms of publicising events and it is really hard to get right. I have had my fair share of failures as well.
Good publicity is like fine wine it takes time to mature. It does not just happen