Marketing Microsoft

Don't Doom Your Own Marketing Event

Planning a marketing event? Here are some tips for successfully promotional copy that will get people to attend it.

Having worked with dozens of large, medium and small Microsoft partners in planning and promoting their marketing events, I've learned what can make events succeed or flop. So when investing your time and money promoting your next event, consider these tips to avoid learning the hard way.

Start with Great Promotional Copy
No matter what type of event you're planning, it's your promotional copy that has to get people interested enough to sign up and show up. It has to sell the benefits of attending your event.

If you don't have a writer with direct marketing experience on staff, hire a freelance writer. Ask around, or search the Web using phrases such as "direct marketing writer" or "freelance writer." An investment in a good writer will pay for itself in increased attendance.

When it comes to promotional copy, what doesn't work?

  • Assuming your audience already understands the value of participating. Copy short on details doesn't give people enough reasons to attend. This could also lead prospective attendees to conclude that the event is a thinly disguised commercial for your company.
  • Grammatical errors, incomplete information or broken hyperlinks (in e-mail announcements). Put yourself in the prospective attendees' shoes: Is it clear how to get more information? Is it easy to sign up to attend? Can you find the event date, start/end and agenda? Do all the phone numbers, e-mail addresses and URLs work?

What works best?

  • Headlines that generate excitement and promise benefits. For example, "6 IT Mistakes That Can Cost You Big Bucks — and How to Avoid Them."
  • Make sure your promotional copy is long enough to spell out all the details and benefits, but still easy to skim for those who want to get right to the bottom line. Use subheads, bold fonts, bullets and call-outs.
  • Focus on selling the event, not your company. Although your ultimate goal is to sell your company's products or services, if you want more attendees at your events, you need to focus on selling the benefits of attending your event with the promotional copy.
  • Be sure to describe what attendees will take home, both knowledge and tangible items like workbooks or white papers. Share positive comments from peers who attended similar events in the past.

Promote Early and Often
Start early when promoting your event. You want to get on the calendars of executives, managers and technical people before they make other commitments. And you want to remind them so they don't forget all about it and miss the opportunity.

What doesn't work?

  • Relying on one method of communicating. Sometimes e-mails get blocked or direct mail gets thrown out unread. Sending both increases the chances of getting through.
  • Promoting your event too early, only once or too late.
  • Using formal invitations or postcards. Generally, registrations plummet with these types of pieces because there's no room for details.

What works?

  • Employing an integrated marketing communications approach that includes postal mail, e-mail, telemarketing and your Web site.
  • Hitting your audience more than once with promotional messages. Test for yourself, but three times seems to be the magic number. First, well in advance. Second, two or three weeks in advance. Third, as a last-chance reminder.
  • Following up with key prospects via telephone, and sending last-minute, "See you there!" e-mails to registrants.

Events are a great way to increase leads and move prospects along the sales cycle. But you've got to promote them well to maximize the number of prospective customers who will attend.

About the Author

M.H. "Mac" McIntosh has been providing marketing and sales consulting services for Microsoft and many of its partners for more than seven years. More than 1,000 Microsoft Partners across the United States and Canada have attended his Marketing Boot Camps and Marketing for Leads (tm) live and Web seminars. You can contact Mac via