Online Event Marketing Strategies

Placing a sales message in front of a qualified prospect is always a marketing goal. One way to accomplish this is through event marketing, in which a company is associated with a special event. This can work well when the company’s products closely tie in with the event.

The key to this strategy is finding or creating an event that opens prospects’ minds to the marketing message.

Traditionally marketers have thought of event marketing as sponsoring a sporting event, industry conference, or even a social cause or project. Here is how these efforts can be translated online:

  • Advertise on a site associated with a major event. Take a look at what sort of advertising you could do that would tie in with an upcoming sporting event. For example, the Kentucky Derby web site offers several advertising opportunities for companies.

  • Sponsor an organization’s online event. Sponsoring an event that is closely related to your product or company has the advantage of being seen as helping make an event or activity possible. This could be a community-service project that includes an informational web site.
  • Donate to a nonprofit’s auction. Fund-raising activities help many nonprofit organizations, and donations from businesses provide many of the products sold through auctions. An example is the online auction of the American Heart Association.
  • Tie into a product. Dole, the fruit and vegetable company, has a product tie-in promotion with the Zany Brainy chain of toy stores and e-commerce web site. This association helps consumers see Dole as being interested in helping kids grow mentally and physically.
  • Create a content site. Many times, it is possible to create a content site that educates and informs customers about your product category and leads the audience back to your web site. Dole’s 5 A Day web site provides educational materials and lesson plans for teachers, information for parents, and activities for kids.

Most of the time, being closely associated with an event or activity is beneficial. But there are cases when it’s not helpful and when it’s even harmful. Say a nonprofit organization decided to discontinue an important event; negative feelings about this can spread to encompass a sponsoring company.

It sometimes seems that the best way to avoid these problems is for a company to run the sponsored event or project itself with no outside control. However, if the public discovered that an organization thought to be completely independent were actually run by the sponsoring company, the publicity problems could be significant.

Even ads running on the sites and materials associated with events or community projects can present problems. A content site covering an event might have material so timely and compelling that the audience doesn’t even consider clicking on the sponsor’s banner ads or links.

For example, the recent presidential election resulted in a tremendous increase in traffic at news sites and other sites that focused on the political environment. On election night, however, the attention of the audience was so focused on the actual event that click-through rates possibly were below average.

Often, being associated with an event or a worthwhile cause can help a company reach an appropriate audience with a targeted message. It’s important to choose these marketing opportunities carefully so that they highlight the company and present appropriate venues in which to deliver the company’s marketing message.

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