Comprehensive Marketing Communications Strategies Top Corporate Event Planners’ Lists
By Elizabeth Johnson
Corporate events range in formats, styles, locations, and objectives, but they all have one thing in common—they need to maximize the people participating in order to advance the brand’s goals. Two corporate event planners—Stephanie Heishman, principal at Freya and Christy Lamagna, founder and master strategist at Strategic Meetings & Events—share insights about how they make their marketing plans works.
Both planners agree that successful marketing campaigns start with a creating comprehensive communication strategy in advance. Communicating on the fly or relying on word of mouth from the sales team is not enough.
“Your communication strategy should focus on encouraging RSVPs and raising your overall brand awareness,” said Heishman. “Two to three months out, write and calendar out branded save the date, logistics, reminder and post-event communications for emails and social media.”
“We create a year-long marketing communications strategy that allows us to brand the event, share the message and develop a rapport and relationship with our audience before, during and after an event,” said Lamagna. “To do this we employ social media, traditional print mail, texting and create in-person messaging for the sales or executive team to deliver throughout the year.”
Next, they say involve your attendees in the process.
“Involve your attendees in programmatic content development so they engage with you and your company well before event begins,” explains Heishman.
“We create a teaser item that is mailed to grab attention and we ask the audience for their input and feedback. We listen to their answers and work to incorporate as much of their input into the program as possible,” added Lamagna. “When people receive something in the mail they can actually use, it’s appreciated. If there is a pithy message around the item to tie the marketing message and the item together, there is a positive association with your brand each time the client uses it.”
Heishman also advises sending post-event survey within 48 hours after the event to garner feedback you can use for next time. And Lamagna establishes a dedicated email and phone number for questions, suggestions and direct feedback.
“This is effective because it not only provides excellent, personalized customer attention in the age of auto attendants, but it also allows you to engage with your target audience, solve a problem, answer a question, or share small talk. Each ‘touch’ is another brick in the pathway to trust and partnership,” she explained.
Heishman says to set up a unique social aspect within the event that you can promote.
“A Jeffersonian style dinner something that one of my clients does for all corporate events they hold,” she said.
A Jeffersonian style dinner is a conversation format where a table of 6-14 people has a single conversation around a particular set of questions. Each table is facilitated by a designated Thomas Jefferson (powdered wig optional). There are no side conversations—all comments are addressed to the group.
“We use Jeffersonian Dinners to help build and deepen relationships among leaders. Our experience is the protocol can initially raise some eyebrows among participants, but people swear by the format after because they share more deeply about their background and experiences with a wider range of people versus typical dinner small talk,” Heishman added.
Don’t underestimate the ‘feel’ that you want participants to walk away with and use that in your marketing. When your marketing strategy focuses on making sure the audience is engaged and respected, you have everything you need.
“This strategic communication approach is effective because there is no such thing as a, ‘magic bullet.’ Relationships and trust take time to establish and are based on communication. By creating a plan that engages your audience throughout the year, the event becomes an extension of that message. It is not a stand-alone offering. It is a live continuation of the conversation you’ve established,” said Lamagna.
“Remember even if someone cannot attend, you are still marketing your company and raising brand awareness,” added Heishman.