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Integrated Marketing Direct Mail: Event Marketing

Dec 30, 2010

Using Direct Mail to Promote, Then Follow Up On, Your Event

With shrinking budgets, green initiatives, and the ease of e-mail marketing, some meeting planners have shifted their attention away from using direct mail to promote their events. But direct mail plays an important role in reaching your potential attendees. And, as other companies have turned away from direct mail, using it can give you a clear stand-out-from-the-crowd advantage.

Why is direct mail important in event promotion? For one, direct mail has a wide reach. Estimates indicate that an e-mail blast only reaches about 30% of the intended audience - due to spam filters, outdated e-mail addresses, and the general challenge of getting people to open your marketing e-mails. A well-designed direct mail piece, on the other hand, will have a much better delivery rate (in part because it can be forwarded if your intended mail recipient has moved or changed jobs).

For another, direct mail can stand out. E-mail marketing can be fairly low cost and easy to produce (which is, in part, why it's so popular). But given e-mail's popularity, it can become increasingly difficult to design an e-mail promoting your event that can compete with the dozens, perhaps hundreds of other promotional e-mails that hit your invitee's inbox on a daily basis. At the same time, the a well-designed mailer can really stand out in your target's mailbox. (A jumbo postcard, for example, is sure to be seen.)

Direct mail can cover your event, A to Z. Traditional direct mail marketing for a conference might include a save-the-date postcard, an invitation letter, an exhibitor prospectus, sponsor brochures, an advance conference program and attendee list. There are a lot of options, making direct mail - in some form - a key element in your marketing efforts.

What to mail, and when

So direct mail has a wide reach, can really stand out from the marketing noise and can cover every aspect of your event from A to Z. In other words, it's clearly an essential part of your event promotion plan. While every plan is different - depending on your event, your business, your targeted attendees - we've put together a general guide to help you get a sense of what kind of mailers you might send, and when.

Two to three months before the event: Send a save-the-date postcard with key information including event date, time, and location, and why the invitee should attend. "Why" is important: What is the benefit for them to attend? Make sure your copy is compelling.

Many event planners choose to segment their lists and send targeted save-the-date postcards with reminder refrigerator magnets or other stand-out elements. (Click2Mail offers magnets and memo pads through Printshop.) This will help your direct mail piece stand out and increase the chances of the recipients' attendance. (Click2Mail can help you find and segment a list.)

One to two months before the event: Send a letter listing the full agenda and all the reasons the recipient should attend. Urge him to reserve space.

For those who do register, immediately send a confirmation with directions to the event, parking passes and other materials, if applicable. (Click2Mail makes that easy, since you can upload your confirmation mailer in advance then click to mail as responses come in.)

Some planners include a pre-event questionnaire asking what the attendee would like to learn at the event. This can help you customize any content that is flexible, and guests are more likely to show up if they feel invested, engaged and that their critical concerns will be addressed.

Two weeks before the event: Send another letter or postcard, similar to the one you sent earlier, to prospects who haven't signed up. The content should summarize prior communications; be brief with the main message of: "We haven't heard from you yet" and "We hope you'll join us."

One week before the event: If you haven't filled all available seats or are waiting to hear from VIPs, start using e-mail and telemarketing.

The day before the event: Call and send out an e-mail reminder with the date, time, and directions to the event.

At the event: Distribute printed questionnaires to gather critical feedback for making your next event even better. If you aren't able to garner much feedback at the event, send the questionnaire with the post-event follow-up materials.

After the event: Send a thank-you note to all attendees. Also let no-shows know that you're sorry they missed your event, and send them relevant presentation materials (or let them know where they can find materials online). If it's an annual event and you already have the date set for the following year, include that information in your thank-you letter.

When you're ready to promote your event with letters, postcards, and event materials, Click2Mail can help you create pieces that will fill up your attendance list. Get started today at Click2Mail.com.