It’s an acronym that requires zero explanation and resonates far and wide. And for event planners, FOMO really is a feeling to capitalise on. After all, what better way to boost ticket sales than by giving attendees a glimpse of what they might be missing? We’ve spoken to four event organisers to find out how they create that pre-event buzz – and encourage potential attendees to get booking.
1. Pique interest with a whispering campaign
Creating an air of mystery around an event is a great way of leaving attendees wanting to know more. Georgina Burrows from the Great Little Events Company did exactly that eight weeks before an immersive Alice in Wonderland-themed event for Dentsu Aegis employees.
“As well as sending emails from a purpose-built mystery email address and describing the event as a ‘once in a lifetime wonderland’, we also shared little clues about the venue and theme.”
— Georgina Burrows, event director, Great Little Events Company
When it comes to giving away clues, being creative is all part of the fun. Georgina’s team made sure Alice in Wonderland-themed images (top hats and white rabbits) flashed up on screens across the Dentsu Aegis building – interrupting the usual transport and weather updates. Added to that, senior members of the Dentsu Aegis executive team signed off a company update with ‘We’re all mad here’, leaving curious employees wanting to find out more. Finally, as the night approached, tiny bottles with ‘drink me’ labels were scattered throughout the building. Attached were invitations to the evening and details about the dress code.
2. Be where your audience is
The most effective event marketing strategy will account for who your audience is and where they’re likely to be. For Sarah Bird, founder of Just So Festival, having the right content is meaningless if you’re not sharing it in the right places.
“With this event, we thought a lot about where our family audience was and went to them with creative experiences, such as storytelling at National Trust properties, visual displays in bookshop windows, dressing-up experiences at libraries and circus workshops.”
— Sarah Bird, director, Wild Rumpus Events
If you’re targeting families, make you know where they’ll be. After all, content designed to resonate with mid-thirties mums might not have the same effect on an audience of young, free and singles.
3. Maximise your visual appeal – it’ll pay dividends on social
We all know how important social channels are when it comes to any pre-event content, but have you thought about how to visually convey your event’s USP? With Hubspot reporting that tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without, the phrase ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ has never seemed more apt.
For Ballie Ballerson, visual appeal is integral to event promotion. Their ball pit bar looks like it’s been designed for Instagram, and the team takes advantage of this by using images and videos to appeal to their audience of digital natives.
“Our best performing photos are generally of the main ball pit with the LED lights on – but we also mix it up with memes that are in keeping with our brand personality. Social media has been a long-term friend of Ballie’s. We’ve had over 100 million views of our video content on Facebook – so invest a lot of time in sharing fun, fresh and relevant content.”
— Megan Conneely, marketing and PR director, Ballie Ballerson
For content inspiration from Ballie Ballerson, check out these examples of images shared on social.
4. Bottle up the magic to give attendees a taste of what’s on offer
Capturing the essence of your event and sharing it with potential attendees is a great way of ramping up excitement. For Sarah Bird, this is crucial in the build-up to Timber Festival, which takes place in the National Forest in July. As a niche festival celebrating nature and woodlands, conveying its overarching theme is vital. So how does she do it?
“We’ll be converting our mobile library bus into a pop-up forest experience, and will travel to towns and cities around the National Forest to bring a little bit of woodland adventure to urban landscapes.”
— Sarah Bird, director, Wild Rumpus Events
Taking a creative approach to your pre-event promotion strategy means looking beyond the usual channels to catch your audience’s attention.
5. Don’t be too sporadic with your communications
Drip-feeding information about the day itself is an approach favoured by many in the events industry, but be wary of giving too little away. Events in the Sky organiser Dale Agar favours a series of big announcements over more sporadic communications.
“We keep new announcements under wraps until three to four months before the event so they have a bigger impact. Grouping announcements around venues, chef line-ups and new menus have a greater impact than drip-feeding them over a longer period of time.”
— Dale Agar, director, Events in the Sky
When it comes to event planning, post-event content is also crucial. Check out our page on timelines and tactics to help inform your strategy here.