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Boost your Event Attendance

Five quick tips to boost attendance at your next event

By Michele Sponagle

Marc Smith, owner of Amuse Consulting in Vancouver, puts together more than 25 events annually and has an excellent track record of well-attended attended events. His secret? A five-point strategy to boost event attendance:

1. Offer Early-bird Discounts. Discounts for early bookers are an attractive hook for keen attendees. But Smith goes a step beyond. He offers super-early bird pricing for a short window of time. “It’s the best value and ultimately, creates an early buzz.”

2. Twitter Tricks. Though it seems like everyone is tweeting these days, it doesn’t mean you should for your event. For a one-time-only event, it may not be your best strategy; it takes time to build up a solid following. Instead, use the corporate account of the company behind the event. Chances are, they are already tweeting and have followers. Use it for pre-event updates on things like keynote speakers, and post-event for thanking sponsors.

3. Facebook Finesse. If the event is a one-time thing, set up a Facebook page that has a link to online registration and a site with more detailed info. For an annual event, start a fan page to encourage conversation. Update it with newsy tidbits and photos throughout the year. It’s a powerful publicity tool that is sweetly inexpensive.

4. Courting Bloggers. Treat bloggers like traditional media. Keep them in the news loop by offering interviews and news items. Give them complimentary tickets so they can help generate a buzz leading up to the event. “Bloggers are hungry for info,” Smith says. “They can be useful for driving attendance in the long run.”

5. Targeted Marketing. While it may be tempting to spread the word far and wide to maximize attendance, that particular tactic can be a mistake. The better option is to identify your key demographic and concentrate on reaching them. For the corporate crowd, LinkedIn makes sense. For the artsy types, communicate through local publications with a cultural slant, like urban weeklies Georgia Straight or Now. Targeting will save you time and money, and ensure the right people come to the event.

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