Utilize personal contacts, email marketing and print advertising to get your message in the right hands.
1. It’s important to stand out from the crowd with a personalized approach to pre-event marketing.
2. Utilize the existing contacts of your organization. Likely yours is a tight-knit community, so call the coaches. Have the coaches call other coaches they’ve competed with or against. Consult membership directories, past hosts, officials and referees for new prospects and reach out to personally invite them.
3. To help you focus your social marketing effort, ask your contacts what social sites they use.On your social sites, friend and follow the contacts you found. Invite these new friends and followers to “like” your business or event page.
4. When your friend request is accepted, add this person to a friend list. Create a new list for your next event. This way, you can share posts to just the people on your list, not your personal friends and followers.
5. Host conference calls with participants to let them know what to expect at your event.
6. Set up a Facebook group for your tournaments and events. Move your relevant Facebook friends into this group. Consider making it a “closed” group if you want more privacy in your group conversations.
7. Reach out to page owners of related events, sponsors, officials and experts and ask to post your tournament info onto their social sites. Manuel Ferrero, with the world governing body of International Slow Pitch Softball, reminds us it’s important to be a part of the community and grow your fan base organically.
8. Develop a social advertising strategy and budget.
9. Email is an easy and economical communication tool. The same people you made personal contact with should be considered for email communication too. Set up your email template to directly address people by name to add personalization. Utilize team lists, club and association membership directories to grow email addresses.
10. Consider an e-blast provider like Constant Contact to do the heavy lifting of list maintenance and email scheduling.
11. Make sure e-blasts contain engaging content and are personalized enough that they won’t be considered spam. An intriguing subject line is the most effective way to get your email read. Use peer pressure by including a preview of who’s signed up.
12. Create more excitement for your email by embedding video. If your provider doesn’t support video embedding, create a still image of the video and hyperlink it to your YouTube or Vimeo channel.
13. Create a Facebook Custom Audience using your email list. This can then be used in social ads on Facebook and Instagram.
14. Research from Hookit found that engagement by a younger audience is found more often on Instagram while older audiences typically engage more on Facebook.
15. Publications and print collateral like event programs add legitimacy to your event while social keeps the conversation lively.
16. Ads to promote your event in your sport’s governance and association publications will place your message in front of the right audience.
17. Set up an Event Page on Facebook. Place event details, ticket purchase information and photos here.
18. Work with your local Convention and Visitors Bureau to find key markets for promotion of your event. These organizations do lots of research on potential sources of visitors. They can provide collateral to promote the area that you can include in your promotional materials and inside your registration packets.
19. Connect with sponsors for co-op advertising dollars for social ads and print ads.
20. Set up lead-generation social ads to build awareness and grow your email list.
21. Set up the Facebook pixel to track conversions from your ads and optimize future ads and audiences.
22. Shorten your event URL and include it in print publications. Consider tools like Bit.ly.
23. Share your social ads and posts on the pages of event sponsors, related social groups and invite key influencers to share it on their personal social feeds.
24. If your event includes attendees from China, learn about WeChat as Facebook and most of our other social sites are not permitted in China.
25. Create an Instagram or Snap Chat geo-filter for your event. Geo-filters allow attendees to overlay a design you create over their own photos for added marketing power and to drive awareness.
Keep participants engaged during the event and be prepared for those inevitable hiccups.
1 Representatives should do more than just staff the event information booth. Check on participants, parents, and coaches throughout the proceedings. Be visible and approachable.
2. Set up a # (hashtag) for use at the event. Market the hashtag prior to and during the event and use it in every post. Ferrero suggests researching hashtags to ensure you’re finding the right audience.
3. Use live-streaming video to keep people engaged during the event. Consider going live from the information booth to draw in more questions and reach people who may need assistance.
4. Create a phone tree of the main contacts of the teams participating. Get several phone numbers per team. This multiplier effect will make sure any necessary messages such as weather delays or changes in schedules gets delivered.
5. Shoot plenty of photos showcasing the personality of your event. Capture images you can use immediately and to market future events.
6. People habitually check their email several times a day, even when away from work. Tap into this during your event.
7. A group email can reach most participants. A distribution list should be created early to make sure you don’t miss anyone. Keep in mind email may not get read instantly, so there could be some gaps in communication.
8. Email is a good tool for sharing scores, standings, and news during the tournament. These emails will be forwarded by participants, so make sure to include your organization and contact info.
9. Add a social sharing button to your eblast and invite readers to share your email.
10. Posters and newsletters at the event can provide direction and detail for teams and coaches
11. Maintain a consistent theme with all publications. Colors and logos create instant recognition.
12. High visibility and placement of the marketing material at events and at host hotels will keep your participants on the right path.
13. Set up a photo booth and invite people to use your backdrop or cardboard photo cut-out when snapping photos or selfies.
14. Use hashtags on all print collateral to marry print and social.
15. Continue to post news, schedules and live updates in your Facebook Group and on your social sites.
16. Use a combination of live and prescheduled posts to save time and build reach and engagement. Roger Breum, director of Marketing at Hookit, finds Twitter is great for in-the-moment news, but doesn’t elicit the engagement that Facebook and Instagram do.
17. Remember to conduct interviews and seek testimonials to be used in your future marketing efforts. Keep in mind the need to gain permission to use a person’s name or photo in your marketing. Having a stack of photo release forms on hand during the event will make the process much easier.
18. Breum also finds that showing a rolling feed of social posts during a game boost engagement.
19. When posting during an event, invite comments and interaction.
Follow-up is key to capture tournament vibes and future tournament success.
1. Call each team or coach after the tournament, thank them and invite them to the next event.
2. Use @ in your social posts to mention key people, sponsors, teams or players.
3. Remember to communicate with the officials and other staff.
4. Keep the enthusiasm going by posting photos and videos after the event.
5. Create a Facebook Story and photo album, a Pinterest board, an Instagram Story or a Twitter Moment to capture highlights in a more enduring format.
6. Be on the lookout for past attendees at upcoming conventions, club meetings or other functions. Make a point of greeting them in person.
7. Ask people to share their own photos and videos onto your social sites. Gain their permission (in writing) to use these images in future marketing.
8. Thank you ads in the same publications used should include info on future events.
9. Printed certificates of recognition or participation can be a lifelong memory and trigger future participation. Add these certificates to Facebook, Snap Chat and Instgram or create a Twitter Moment.
10. Ferrero has found that audience involvement in #RateMySwing builds engagement year-round. Viewers post video of their swing and other comment and offer suggestions. An awesome way to keep the buzz going.
11. Update and maintain stories on Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat along with Twitter Moments.
12. Posting team photos after the event creates a longer lasting bond to the event as evidenced by Breum.
13. Measure your social success in terms of interactions, reach, and names added to your email list. Track video consumption, popular post times along with social shares.
14. A thank you email is imperative. Again, address it personally.
15. Emails with video, group photos, news and final standings will rekindle positive memories for attendees.
16. Provide a call-to-action inviting readers to ‘like’ your social sites, sign-up for your newsletter or next tournament. Set up a special landing page to capture names and email.
Utilizing some of these tips for effective promotion of your tournament will lead to happy participants, exposure for your organization and future engagement. It will be a memorable event.
About the Authors:
Catherine Heeg, International speaker & trainer, focuses on social media marketing strategies for the tourism and hospitality industry. Connect with her at www.cmsspeaking.com and socially.
Jay B. Parker is a veteran sales manager and writer in the cruise and tour industry. He is an advocate of the PMB sales system, an upbeat and practical way to achieve better sales results. Contact Jay on Twitter @ToursJay or firstname.lastname@example.org.