This is a guest post written by Corwin Hiebert, a consultant from Vancouver, Canada, who provides business management and marketing services to creative entrepreneurs. His company, Red Wagon Management, produces and hosts CREATIVEMIX – Vancouver’s Ideation Conference. You can read Corwin’s blog or download his ebooks at CorwinHiebert.com.
Event promotion is always a daunting task. It’s even harder when you’re responsible for marketing an event that you wouldn’t normally attend.
What this calls for is a team of event ambassadors.
When tasked with marketing an event that does not strike their passionate side, event planners must attract attendees from outside of their sphere of influence. Instead of concentrating on the big, scary job of gathering the unknown crowd, focus instead on a micro-network that is made up of approximately 10 to 12 people.
Yes, 10 to 12 people. That’s it.
Cast aside the masses and take a chill pill on the marketing mayhem. Instead, focus your energy on a small, but powerful, group of people. Target twelve passionate people who are connected to the organization, and convert them into event ambassadors.
The idea is simple: by inspiring and equipping approximately twelve people to passionately spread the word about your event you will have successfully employed the single most successful marketing tool—word of mouth—without doing any of the talking. Some good, old-fashioned passion from others is an amazing tool in your promotional arsenal.
With a team of ambassadors you become a micro-marketer. Your job is to make it easy and exciting for your ambassadors to talk up the event. As you do so, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, a normal event marketing cycle doesn’t apply to this circumstance. Add a few weeks to the project. This is a relationship-building exercise and you need time to recruit and empower the right people.
- Second, event organizers too often don’t recruit or engage with the right people and the event marketing suffers. Event organizers will simply work with a pre-existing group (like a committee) or try to empower the low-hanging fruit (the first to volunteer or those closest or most available). Building a successful team of ambassadors requires a recruitment strategy.
When recruiting your ambassadors, you should be on the lookout for the following traits and attributes:
- Define the demographic of your audience, and the diversity within that segment, and recruit members who represent that diversity. Remember, there’s always diversity within a target audience, unless you’re holding an event for Russian-born bartenders with pink pigtails who love pets. By focusing as broadly as possible within a narrow demographic, you’re increasing your opportunity to impact a much more like-minded sphere of influence.
- Recruit people who you and the event stakeholders respect. From their demeanor to their reputation you need to be fans of theirs as much as they are fans of your event. When you are talking up your event you’ll want to talk speak highly of those who share your passion for the event; you want to use their name and feel very proud of that connection and partnership. That kind of pride rubs off. People want to be around people who treat others with respect. Foster that by engaging with caring and fun-loving people
- Your group should collectively and individually have a lot of charisma. Those who make great first impressions, have a compelling personality, who like to laugh, and who don’t like to eat alone are great candidates. A go get ’em attitude is infectious and you don’t want to be the one trying to rally them. I’m talking about people who know people; they’ve got to have a social network that extends beyond their number of Twitter followers.
By working with twelve people, instead of focusing on the masses, you’ve instantly turned a difficult marketing effort into a personable and manageable community building activity. The engagement with your ambassadors is simply about increasing their excitement for the event and making it extremely easy for them to spread the word.