Hosting a local event is a great way to increase foot traffic to your brick and mortar location, but it will also benefit your local SEO marketing campaign by earning links and building citations as well as garnering news mentions and positive reviews. High quality links increase your organic ratings while citations on locally relevant websites build your local ranking on search engines.
What Type of Event Should You Host?
If you already have an idea for an event, great. If not, then deciding what type of event you would like to host is your first step. Keep in mind, the main purpose of your event is to attract potential customers and spread the worth about your business.
- Grand Openings – this is a no-brainer if you’re just opening up your business or changing ownership. Even if you’ve already been open for a few months or so, you can still have a grand opening, and it’s a fantastic way to increase visibility.
- Holiday Sales – Black Friday and Cyber Monday spring to mind, but you can break out of the box by having a sale on a less popular holiday, like Ground Hog Day, and spice it up with free food, giveaways, entertainment and more.
- How-To Classes and Educational Opportunities – whether it’s a craft project, home improvement how-to or a makeup demonstration, nearly any type of business can come up with an educational opportunity that will highlight the business and increase sales.
- Seasonal Themed Parties – from holiday parties to sports season kick-offs, everyone loves a party, especially when there’s free food, raffles, games and events.
- Fundraisers – partner with a cause that both you and your community care deeply about, and everyone will benefit!
- Guest Lecturers – bring in someone who’s anxious to promote their new book or product, and you both can capitalize on the opportunity to interact with your customers.
- New Product Promotion – introduce a new product or service in a big way. It’s a great way to promote both your business and the new product.
These are just a few suggestions. The possibilities are endless, from 5K races and sporting events to fairs, food or toy drives and charity auctions. You can make it as small and intimate or grandiose as your time and resources will allow. Just remember to keep in mind your primary goal: attract new customers and spread the worth.
The Basics of Preparation for Your Event
Preparation is the key to the overall success of your event. You will need to allow adequate time to get the word out, so be sure and start your campaign at least 30 days out. The size of your event will determine your prep time. As a rule of thumb, major events are generally scheduled a year or more in advance, but spontaneous events can be prepared within a month or two.
You will need to secure a venue, if needed, choose a date that doesn’t conflict with other local events, and put together your core event team to whom you can delegate various tasks.
Remember, no one person can do it all alone. Gather a team of reliable people to help you, and break up the event planning into small, manageable chunks. Consider inviting a sponsor or sponsors to assist with funding and/or provide prizes, giveaways, food or entertainment.
Local SEO Considerations
When choosing a location, remember that you’ll get the best SEO benefits if you host the event at your business location. Your business name, address, phone number and URL will be listed on many different websites, creating many valuable citations.
Consider creating an event #hashtag on Twitter and other social media sites. This will be especially valuable if people may be checking in, sharing photos, inviting friends and so forth. Be sure to add your #hashtag to all your posters, banners and other promotional material, both on and off line.
Sell Tickets in Advance
Advance ticket sales not only allow you to keep track of attendance, using a service like Eventbrite, Ticketbud or Brown Paper Tickets will also provide still another link to your website, increasing your SEO benefits. And whether you offer free or paid tickets, customers who take the time to sign up in advance are more likely to make a point of attending the event and may even invite their friends.
Create an Event Page
Consolidate all of the information about your event onto a dedicated event page on your website. That way when customers follow the link from the event listing, they will end up on your website, giving you many valuable links from many different sources. Even if you use a third-party ticketing service, be sure to embed the code onto your web page so that the registrations occur on your site.
Be sure to include all the essential details on your event page, such as the name of the event, date and time, location, directions and a contact phone number. Make sure these details are featured prominently, and include a photo of your business for good measure.
Write up a tantalizing description of your event, and be sure to include the highlights and times, if appropriate, i.e. live music starting at 9 p.m., or raffles every hour from 3 till 7 p.m. Be sure to include the main purpose of the event, whether it’s to benefit a certain charity, introduce a new product or whatever.
If you’ve held the event before, you can include photos and/or videos from previous events. If not, be sure to assign someone from your team to capture good media highlights from this one.
Marketing Your Local Event
In addition to the usual marketing tactics, such as sending out emails, posting flyers in your shop and around town and hyping the event verbally to your customers, you’ll want to take the following steps to reach a wider target audience.
Start by listing your event everywhere you can find local event listings. This includes Craigslist Events, Facebook Events, Eventbrite.com, Meetup.com, Eventful.com, EventsNearHere.com, Events.org and any local listing directories you can find. Google your city, county or community name along with “local” events and see what pops up.
Hype your event to local media outlets and see if you can get some sort of local coverage. Consider offering some sort of VIP perks to make it worth their while, or come up with an unusual angle to get a popular media personality to participate.
If within your budget, create a marketing video about your event and post it to YouTube and other video sharing sites, and be sure to include your business name and website. This will create still more links back to your website and increase your SEO standings. You can also offer this video to local media to use in promoting your event. You never know, on a slow news day you could be the star of the hour!
During and After Your Event
After all your hard work you probably want to rest on your laurels and just enjoy the fruits of your labor. Don’t! This is the time to start planning for next year’s event. Get plenty of exciting photos and video to make promoting the next event easier. Encourage customers to check in at your location and post photos to their social media accounts. Get new customers to sign up for email notifications in exchange for a pen, keychain or other giveaway. Schmooz with the press and be sure they get some good video and sound bites.
After the event you’ll want to update your event page with all the photos and video you took, along with a brief synopsis of how it went, funds raised or whatever. Send out an email to your customers encouraging them to provide feedback on what they liked or didn’t like, and what they would like to see next year.
Remember, the key to a successful event is preparation, preparation, preparation. Whether your event will be held next month or next year, it’s never too early to start planning!