Don’t take marketing skills for granted: they’re precious and need investment
Pretty much everything in life is better when done in the company of good ‘others’. Events are no exception.
Getting the right media partners, associations and other event supporters on board is one of the most critical aspects of making your event a success and securing its long-term future.
So, what are the key things to consider to help optimise your event through intelligent partnerships?
Picking the right partners
Just as your event should be carefully targeted at a select audience or demographic, partners should be targeted with strategic precision.
It can be tempting to aim for as many partners as possible or approach those most likely to be easily persuaded to get on board, but it’s a false economy to take a scattergun approach.
If you compromise here your partnerships won’t yield the results you wish for. Partners must be fully aligned with what your event needs to be and where it is going in future.
Partners should be your strongest advocates – if you don’t share values or goals, they simply won’t be as effective as you need in bringing and helping to attract the right people to your event.
Relationships take time
Finding the right partners can be difficult, which is why this is an area you need to focus on well in advance. Leaving it too late can mean you have less leverage with partners in terms of the value exchange – resulting in reduced advocacy and campaign effectiveness ‘both ways’ and shared campaigning they can do with you.
For a new event you should be working on identifying and approaching potential partners at least nine months before the event takes place. For existing events, you should be trying to tie in your best partners even earlier.
Getting partners on board is only the start
The best relationships are those all parties work really hard at getting right. Sourcing and approach a potential partner is just the start.
If you make communications with your partners simple, clear and well structured, it will ensure a fruitful relationship. It’s essential to share – and explain – all relevant campaign strategy and time frames with your partners. Nothing dispirits a partner like the feeling they are just an afterthought. Work hard at building ‘win-win’ relationships.
Help the messenger
One of the most challenging aspects of promoting an event is standing out amongst the noise of competing events.
The right partner will bring not only a readymade, targeted audience that they can promote your event to, but their audiences are also likely to already be engaged.
Research and identify the key publications, digital platforms and associations in your event community where subscribers, members, readers or communities that best fit the target audience you want to access.
A common mistake is to sign up too many partners to manage effectively. Unless you have the capability to manage their expectations and execute joint campaigns or plans, this is a counterproductive ‘box-ticking’ exercise.
Make sure to involve media partners with your content strategy plans. The more you engage with them in this area the more likely everyone in the relationship produces strong, impactful content.
Getting speakers to speak out
People don’t always consider speakers as ‘partners’, but treating them as such isn’t a bad idea.
Without being pushy, try to get your speakers to promote their involvement in your event in their networks. Having high profile speakers actively push your event via their personal or corporate channels will raise your profile and give you exposure to a new audience you haven’t been able to reach.
Most importantly, speakers’ audiences are very likely to be very receptive to their messages – which gives you the very valuable ‘cut through’ you need to get the news about your event through all the noise.
Advice for advisory boards
On a similar note, an often-untapped resource for promoting events are advisory boards. They may not officially be viewed as partners, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think of them as so and see in what ways they can help spread the word. They are likely to have a gold mine of contacts reaching beyond your database – through which you can enhance your credibility.
Make communication easy
Make it easy for partners to promote your event by giving them a partner park of readymade media assets. Whether it’s web banners, images, video content, email copy or infographics, the more you have for them to work with the more likely they are to commit to promoting your event’s credibility.
Also, by preparing plenty of useful resources for them to share, it helps them stay on message and communicate the key points you want to get out there.
Focus on follow up
Finally, providing ‘easy to use and share’ event information packs for your partners is crucial You also need to gently follow up with them to encourage content and collateral distribution.
If you’ve selected the right partners from the start and put the effort in to developing a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with them, you’ll be sure to reap the strategic rewards.
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