How To Get Influencers To Attend Your Company Event It’s not difficult to identify the quality of an upcoming event. Whether it’s the Mobile World Congress, which was attended by 101k people this year, or a high-level industry round-table, most people gauge the quality of your event by taking a quick glance at your speaker list and notable attendees. Similar to the “who else is going?” approach to going to parties in your younger days.
Companies that organize branded conferences are always interested in announcing the presence industry thought-leaders to their events knowing that influential consumers will follow close behind. This way they’re always (or at least always perceived to be) at the bleeding edge of their industry, leading the charge into future. Logically, getting these people onboard first will give you the best shot at attracting future clients, brand advocates and valuable business partners to your events.
Therefore, confirming the presence of well-known influencers and industry movers & shakers at your event should be priority number one.
But who are these influencers, where do you find them, and how can you convince them to show up?
Well before you can identify and invite the influencers, you need to determine the right audience. This may seem like common sense, and it is, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Often times companies get too comfortable with their brand image, content and guest list. Additionally, it’s much easier to simply recycle an audience or theme from a past event, however in this day and age consistency walks a fine line with stagnation.
Instead, ask yourself what you aim to accomplish with your event. This will help you set your goals and target the right audience. There’s a time and place for every audience, but the last thing you want is a bunch of senior execs showing up for a free steak dinner and an open bar when you’re trying to court advocates for a rebranding effort or new product launch.
You want to attract an audience that will be receptive to your brand and share their experiences as well. People who will be come ambassadors and provide genuine interaction and feedback both during the event and afterwards.
Don’t go it alone
The companies that have the most success with events are the ones that elicit support from other stakeholders in their industry. This is especially true of larger events or conferences you plan on hosting on an annual basis. Start with finding one true collaborator – another business or industry partner that draws value from the same target audience as you. Think of them as your cofounder, someone who shares your vision and is willing to match your involvement and promotion. The right partner adds credibility to your event and brings their own loyal customers to build some momentum.
Most importantly, with a strategic partner comes their strategic guest list. A little quid pro quo of contact list sharing will double your impact and start attracting top talent by association. On top of that, having two brands involved makes it easier to secure event sponsors where you can negotiate a budget to hire a great keynote.
Location Location Location
We can’t stress enough the importance of booking a prime venue for an event. This the event industry equivalent of “the clothes make the man”. Certain places simply attract certain types of people so make sure you venue is aligned with your target audience. Consider transportation, availability and proximity of hotels and restaurants, and don’t forget about what will still be available once your event is over. Your crowd they may need a chartered bus, a handful of private cars or even a contrasting after party venue within walking distance depending on the state in which they’ll be leaving.
Spread the word
The media is your best friend when it comes to attracting influencers. In fact, you could even choose a relevant media company as your event partner, it’s that important. First, influencers have egos and the media feed them big time. Furthermore, good journalists have a rolodex of industry leaders that may be willing to appear simply to get more attention for their personal brand.
It’s never too early to start the media push, especially if you can name drop one or two influencers or event partners to build a buzz. The thought leaders your after keep a finger on the pulse of your industry and are likely going to be the first to hear about new events in their space. Use the media to your advantage and they may contact you in their effort to remain at the top of their game.
Be your own media partner
Didn’t you hear? In 2016, everyone’s a publisher. That’s not to say your industry media is any less effective, it just means that when you’re pitching journalists, move your feet. Creating engaging content and social media campaigns around your event can do wonders by attracting early adopters and thought leaders. Like I mentioned above, if relevant content in their domain is being published, key influencers will be among the first to know.
Take it a step further and tweet at them directly on Twitter, get involved in their hashtag conversations or send an InMail through LinkedIn. Chances are you already know someone who’s connected to them and they’ll appreciate the warm introduction.
Make them a speaker
Remember when we said influencers have egos? Well, Pavlov was a public speaker – give them an influencer a microphone and watch their eyes light up. By offering strategic influencer a keynote slot or marquee workshop gives them a platform for which to add to their brand. You can even sweeten the pot by offering them complimentary passes for their “exclusive guests.”
Align your goals to their personal agendas and you’re much more likely to get them to commit
Just don’t wait until the last minute. You’re using influencers to attract key decision makers, remember? Well, you’ll need enough time to build a buzz and let C-level executives fit your event into their agenda. Which takes us to our last point.
Aim high and wide
People are flakes. Sorry, but the earlier you accept that the better. Ticketing platforms and social media have made registering for events a breeze, especially given our nature to think that a far off future date will never actually arrive. Check the box and you’re in. Then, our text messaging culture let’s us bail on our commitments at the last minute without having to actually face anyone or even make a phone call. Combined, these two technological advancements have created the perfect storm of unreliable, aberrant behavior.
And that’s for the masses. You need plan for no-shows. If your event is free, count on a 40% dropout rate, that’s if you’re lucky. If it’s a paid event, you’ll get a much higher turnout rate, but a lower percentage will sign up. Also you can use one of these 6 ways to maximize engagement and improve this industry averages.
Unfortunately, influencers are even more unpredictable. Therefore, you need to cast a wide net. When crafting your speakers and VIP guest list, try to pick the influencers with the largest and most engaged followers. Don’t get complacent and never sell your event around one key influencer or speaker. If that person bails, you’ll have a lot of upset guests to answer to. Instead, aim for a well-rounded stable of industry leaders to attend your event. The more commitments you have, the stronger they’ll become as they’ll feel the peer pressure to appear, perform well and make it known to their following that they were “chosen” for your prestigious event.