SXSW Austin- Multi Channel Event Planning

Events are a very impactful part of your marketing programs, or should be. They are typically seen as an easy way to get new names, or showcase the brand to your target audience. However, most companies let their event programs live on an island, far away from the realm of their company initiatives.

This year Marketo is putting together the Marketing Nation Engagement Lounge at the 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival. The Engagement Lounge is set to be the hottest marketing lounge in Austin this March, with 12 content sessions featuring top level marketers from brands like GM, Philips, esurance, Mashable and many more. Event attendees will be treated to a variety of entertainment, from themed cocktails to an interactive GIF Photobooth. The Engagement Lounge will be a great place for people to step out of the chaos of SXSW and unwind!

Putting together an Engagement Lounge is not an easy task, however when done correctly, it can be extremely effective! Check out these important tips for planning and hosting a large scale, multi-channel event, and you’ll be sure to see the return you’re hoping for!

Plan time for planning

Start Early. I can’t stress this enough, planning for events of this scale take time—and approvals. If it’s a new adventure, I suggest attending the event first and then starting the planning process immediately after. Create a timeline, and stick to it. With a timeline in hand, you’ll know when certain flags need to be raised or if you need to adjust your course of action.

Get your team involved

To host a truly great event, you need to consider how each of your marketing channels can be used to promote or support your event. Here are some examples of how to get other channels and team members involved:

  • Social: For those you that work for companies that are very demand generation focused (it’s all about the new names), social is a great way for you to attract a wider audience for your event. Especially those who are not currently engaging with you through your existing database.
  • PR: Traditional PR won’t allow for too much creativity here, but that never stops me! If you are building an agenda with some big names, make sure to get the press involved! Otherwise, write an article surrounding what’s going on at your event and submit it to your favorite trade publication. After all, the more visibility there is to what you’re doing, the more attendance you’ll be able to drive!
  • Content: This might be the most overlooked area that you can use to boost your event programs! Build an infographic featuring notable events occurring during the conference. Get on your organization’s content calendar, and consider writing a blog before the event (eh hem).
  • Demand Generation: Stand out! Be creative in your visuals, email copy and especially the subject line. Conferences just get bigger and bigger—make sure that your brand will break through the noise! Your demand generation efforts go beyond just email programs; make sure to involve your customer team. These types of events can be a fantastic opportunity to build your reputation with your existing customer base.
  • Product Marking: Your product marketing team is extremely important in ensuring the success of your event. Get on their radar far in advance of the event, because their part often takes time—especially if you are breaking into a new market. They can help you secure speaking sessions, and help determine what collateral to feature.
  • Executives: This can make or break your event—make sure to get executive buy in! And what better way to do that than have them attend, and make sure they are busy while they are there! Work with your PR team to leverage your executives for briefings and speaking opportunities. Customers love being able to get airtime with the executives at companies they work with. But do remember to make sure that it’s necessary for them to be there, because their time is extremely valuable!

The event’s, over but your relationship is not

The event is over, PHEW, time to sit back and relax. Unfortunately, no—your after-event communication is one of the most important elements of your event and it is often done wrong or not at all.

Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that this level of planning isn’t possible (or necessary) for every event. To focus your efforts, start the year by building out your calendar, and from there, select the few events that will be your ‘all-in’ programs. Don’t be afraid to involve your team! Not only will it get you more visibility into your organization, it is a great way to work with your colleagues that you may not normally cross paths with.

Planning your event from top to bottom and including your team is no small task—it is time consuming—but the reward and satisfaction that you receive knowing the event was a true success, can’t be beat. And following the analytics of the impact your event had will truly put a smile on your face.

Want to see this plan in action? Come by The Engagement Lounge at the Vulcan Gas Company next weekend at SXSW. It is sure to be a great time, filled with thought provoking content sessions, delicious food and impressive networking!