When planning an event, depending on your main role in the game, it’s easy to be overly optimistic. 

The event you’re planning is, of course, the best thing you’ve ever come up with. You and your team have worked incredibly hard to pull everything together and you expect that hard work to naturally bring in some interest, at least from friends and family, right?

You’re wrong. I hate to break it to you — it sucks, I know.

But for some reason in this day and age, even Mom & Pop won’t show up to your event unless you’ve bribed them. 

So how do people throw successful events these days? It’s just a bit more complicated than you think, but once you’ve figured it out, it becomes a lot easier to apply to future events. In this article I’m going to breakdown drip campaign tactics and how to apply them to your every day events. Yes, you can apply Fortune 500 event tactics to your networking mixer or your pop-up shop. In fact, I encourage you to do so.

There’s no way we’re going to cram all my expertise into this article, so instead I’m going to focus on the drip campaign itself and how to build one for just about any business. The creative bits are entirely up to you, which is why I’ve chosen a very neutral case example.

CASE: You are a dentist office that just opened up in town, you decide that a grand opening party would be a fun way to introduce yourself to the neighborhood. The event takes place on a Wednesday evening and will have drinks, food and door prizes.

This is a simple, fairly standard opening event for many businesses. While I personally would jazz it up, for the sake of being an example, we’re going to pretend this is the COOLEST dentist ever. 

You have one month before your event and all you’ve got is a Facebook Page to generate as much attendance as possible. After you’ve created the “Event” on your Facebook Page, how do you get people to engage and actually show up?

Step 1: Identify Your Creatives / Collateral

Creatives or collateral are images, videos, links, or some other kind of media that you can share on social media. The more variety you have, the more you can add into your “drip.” Think about it like a leaky faucet, every other second there’s a little drop — similar to the one before, but different. It slowly builds on you until you either go take care of the drip or eventually tune it out. We’re hoping that with the right captions and images we can make people tune in rather than tune out.

Once you’ve identified the different pieces you have, you’ll want to start effectively putting them into play. Go to your Facebook Page and create individual posts for the various pieces of content you have, each post mentioning your event, where to find tickets (if applicable) and something memorable/impactful.

Photo of your really, really cool office.

The key tactic here is scheduling the posts out. Do not post them all at once, schedule them out:

4th week leading up to event: every day
3rd week leading up to event: every day, 2x a day
2nd week leading up to event: every day, roughly every 4 hours
1 week leading up to event: every day, roughly every 2-3 hours

Realistically, if you’re not in the event planning biz you will not have enough content to push out that often. Take what you have and spread it out evenly in the beginning, feel free to recycle it when closer to the event. That week leading up to the event is your most important week, make sure you have plenty of creative imagery for then.

CASE Cont: You’ve gathered a few photos of your office, yourself and your staff + an article written about your office opening up soon. You’ve scheduled these pieces out for the next two weeks with the expectation of getting more content to share later in the week like memes and behind-the-scenes shots.

You’ve invited all your Facebook friends to the event, but you need to really tap into their extended networks. What do you do?

Step 2: Pre-Event Activations

Activations are activities or experiences for the user, a pre-event activation would essentially be any kind of activity hosted before the main event. This also, naturally, becomes part of your drip campaign.

An easy way to get people to invite their network to your event is to host a pre-event activity. This could be as simple as a Facebook LIVE showing the office before it’s open for business. It could even be a Q&A. Whatever you end up doing, use it as an opportunity to encourage users to tag their friends and invite them to the event.

CASE Cont: You hosted a Q&A on your Facebook Page for old clients and potential customers to ask you anything. During the Q&A you answer questions, but encourage each commenter to also check out the event you’re hosting by including the link to the event in your comment. This draws in new eyeballs and makes you look like a thought leader.

Now that your event has a healthy amount of organic interest, it’s up to you to keep the drip going. Keep scheduling more content to go up and recycle things when you can. Once you have that organic base, the next step is converting them to actual attendees.

Step 3: Converting to Attendees

Converting an event subscriber on Facebook to an actual attendee is harder than you might expect. Many people will mark “interested” or “going” and not show up at all. How do you make people show up?

“Omg Sarah, who knew Dr. Dinkle was such a badass!”

Simply, if you keep the drip going, they will come. Reiterate the drip you have going on your Facebook Page in the Event space you built. Attendees marked as “interested” or “going” will get extra notifications, gently pounding the seed of the event in their minds.

Additionally, proactively remind people engaging with your page, the event, yourself, that you have a grand opening coming up and you’d love for them to join. Highlight the aspects of the opening that they would love and make them feel as passionate about it as you do.

Follow these steps and you’re sure to have a solid turn out. Not every business has the budget to run paid ads behind their event and not every event should require that.

If you do not wish to put paid behind your event, you have to essentially triple up the amount of organic posting you’re doing to get the same effect.

That’s the formula, 3:1 paid to organic. 

If you made it this far, that’s really the key advice to take away. Even a small advertising budget can go a long way if the organic component is strong as hell.

If you found yourself still feeling super overwhelmed by the end of this, you might need to just outsource some help and that’s totally okay, too. I offer flexible event planning packages that include paid ads and strong organic campaigns, contact me to chat!