No matter how good a B2B marketer you are, events are a whole different ball game and the playing field is littered with potential pitfalls that can see even the most seasoned marketing professional burying their head in their hands. Luckily for you, we're sharing the 7 most common rookie event planning mistakes, along with our great free e-book that'll give you even more insight into things you should avoid.
There are hundreds of ways to break an event and we couldn't hope to provide a conclusive list. Every time we think we've seen it all, someone will come up with a new and highly creative way to turn a conference into a car crash. But there are some old favourites that come up time and time again, most commonly with inexperienced and rookie event marketers. Here are our top 7:
1: Lack Of Lead Time
"So, when's your event?" "Three weeks away." [Bangs head on desk repeatedly until client shuffles out looking confused]. OK, so that's a bit melodramatic and I've never actually asked someone to leave my office because of a rubbish lead time, but boy is it a common mistake.
Generally, you need at least 10 weeks' lead time to run an event. And that's 10 weeks from when your event is a finished, market-ready product, not 10 weeks from the idea hitting your marketing plan. Think about it, you have a wedding, you give people months of notice if you want a good number of your invited guests to show. Events are the same.
2: Email Fever
I don't know what it is about events but they bring out the worst in B2B marketers' already pretty advanced email addiction. They overmail like crazy (would you invite your friend to a party 12 times? Thought not.) They forget everything they ever knew about buyer personas and segmentation. Please don't let this be you. Email fever is highly contagious and symptoms are worsened by pressure from colleagues and proximity to the event!
3: Old School Outbound Tactics
We've proven time and time again that inbound is the way to go with events marketing. You're probably using those tactics in your regular marketing too. But all too often we find event rookies abandonning their hard won inbound skills in favour of old school tactics like blanket mailing and cold calling.
4: Excluding Stakeholders
Speakers, sponsors and other event stakeholders have a vested interest in the success of your event. They should be your strongest allies and feel included in every aspect of your event including your marketing. They know the people most likely to attend, all you need to do is to stop going solo and build yourself a team of amazing influencers who can help to build your audience. Here's more on leveraging your existing audience to run great B2B events.
5: Stuck In Time Website
Is your first attempt at your event web page your last? Have you forgotten to update your content at any point over your lead time? Whether it's the pressure of the event, the short timescale or just lack of appreciation as to why it needs to happen, we often find rookies making this critical event planning mistake. A potential attendee might visit the site 3-4 times before they actually commit to coming so you need to make sure you always have the latest information and juicy fresh content there to engage them. Download our website checklist to make sure yours is on point.
Done is better than perfect. And nowhere is that more evident than an event marketing plan where you need to get enough bums on seats in just 2-3 months. It's one of the most painful event planning mistakes we come across, the company that's built a stunning event website but hasn't actually set it live 5 weeks before the event because they're "still fine tuning it". Or one that refuses to publish any sort of agenda because the speaker panel isn't 100% confirmed. When it comes to events, you don't have the luxury of waiting to achieve perfection. Get it serviceable and get it out there!
7: Partner Neglect
You've worked hard. You've negotiated like a pro. You've secured some incredible media partners that'll give you unprecedented credibility and access to your target audience. Job done right? Not in the slightest. A media partnership where you don't chase up on and ensure fulfillment isn't worth the paper it's written on. You're better off having fewer partners where every aspect of the deal actually happens, than hundreds who never become more than logos on your site.
Now you're armed with the knowledge of what not to do - why not take a look at some of the other things you can do to make your event a success. Or if you want a more detailed inside scoop on event marketing mistakes, check out our free e-book: