marketing events that fail

Why Marketing (and other) Events Fail

by Dave on January 19, 2012

Marketing Events are supposed to be good for your reputation

An acquaintance of mine recently sent me a solicitation for a marketing event. It ended up killing any respect I had for them. I host webinars, I know how hard it is to put yourself out there. I don’t mind invitations, people invite me to things all the time.  If it looks interesting or valuable, I’ll try to attend. But this one was different – it got my attention – but in the wrong way – I couldn’t believe how many things they had done wrong – way wrong.

What did they did right

The event organizers had done a couple of things right:

  • The event had an Eventbrite page – it looked like they were at least trying to manage attendees
  • The email invitation wasn’t generic – they had personalized it with my first name.

Why was the rest of the campaign a complete failure?

There were many things that could have been done better, but there were some things about how they marketed the event that were flat out wrong:

  1. The person inviting me had only just met in the past month. We were the barest of acquaintances. The first I hear from him is an invitation to a paid event he’s organizing (and not a cheap one at that), made me feel like I was only an income generating object. If he had bothered with even the slightest attempt at engaging me before the invitation, it might not have felt as slimy.
  2. The first time I hear about the event is less than 24hrs from the event start. Nothing like feeling cheap and rushed.
  3. The message to me had major typographical and grammatical errors, and it lacked a clear logical flow. The trust part of the relationship was already shaky, and poorly constructed, confusing message didn’t make me feel any better.
  4. I reread the message and even clicked the link to the Eventbrite page. I read both twice. I studied their “best” marketing materials and I still couldn’t figure out what was in it for me – and yes, if you are going to ask me to something that isn’t purely a charity or social event, there has to be something in it for me. And maybe there wasn’t. The  materials I could find looked like it was all about them.
  5. The copy is full of jargon, buzzwords, and name-dropping. In my experience, any one of the three tell me someone doesn’t know what they are talking about or is trying to bamboozle you. (Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to write a blog post with “bamboozle” in it?) All three together flashed “stay away.”

What might have worked?

If it was legitimate event (I have my doubts) what could have made it better?

  • Some warm up – a stronger relationship with the “friend” who’s inviting me, or at least some other contact that wasn’t selling me something.
  • Some warning – I get using a sense of urgency in your marketing, but most people can’t show up somewhere with only 24 hour’s notice
  • Some solid copy that described the event in layman’s terms and let me know what I would be getting for my entry fee, and maybe some detail on what the vendors would be offering
  • Testimonials or other social proof

It really comes down to trust. If you want someone to part with their money (or even their time), they have to trust you. If you are going to invest in sponsoring a live marketing event, make sure you’ve gone through the steps to build trust with audience when (and before) you invite them.

Have you experienced something similar? What was the thing that really turned you off?

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