Bee Loud specializes in hotel marketing and restaurant marketing and we love selling out a great event.
Events and restaurants go together like peas and carrots.
Events generate public awareness and guest loyalty. They re-engage guests who haven’t visited you in a while and attract new customers. Events give bloggers, social media stars and journalists something to talk about.
Best of all, events empower your best team members to showcase their talent.
Do you have a wannabe celebrity chef on your team who needs a little love once and a while? Events are their ticket to job satisfaction.
Make it Special
The first thing you have to do is choose a theme for your event – yes yes I know you’re thinking, “Thanks, Captain Obvious.” Nonetheless, it must be said, because if you spend a little extra time on this step, your event will outshine all the rest. Nobody needs another wing night, right?
Start by thinking about how to craft an experience that both reinforces your brand and appeals to the desires of your ideal guest.
Is your ideal guest looking for a rowdy beer pong tourney or a romantic date night? Do they like lengthy discussions about local food or bottomless tequila shots? Do they want to travel the world with their taste buds or play a rancorous game of bingo with MawMaw?
Your options are endless, and our event theme is the perfect opportunity to show off how bright and imaginative you are.
Make it Stand Out
The next step is to come up with an irresistible description. Your goal is to be conspicuous in busy calendars and entice an immediate ticket purchase.
Also, now is the time to carefully outline all the necessary information such as location, date, time, inclusions, ticket prices and how to book. (Realizing you forgot to note the date of the event after the print ad is published is a major downer.)
Next, you need to plan how you will promote your event.
Every event has unique requirements. A well-established restaurant with a sizable email subscribers database and a populous social media audience may only need a Facebook event listing and an email newsletter to sell out an event. On the other hand, a brand new restaurant hosting their first event will want to deploy every tool in the promotional kit.
Write Great Words
Your event promotion will require lots of words. If the words are concise, fun and outline the key selling points of your event, your advertisements will be more successful. Below is the copy production list Bee Loud gives our Head Storyteller for our food and beverage events. Each item on this list requires unique copy of varying lengths and styles.
- Website landing page
- Contest landing page
- Eventbrite listing
- Facebook event listing
- Table talkers
- Print ads
- Street banner
- Social media posts
- Social media ads
- Email newsletters (at least 4 unique versions)
- Radio announcements
- Press release
Your copy must always include a clear call to action, such as “buy tickets” or “call for reservations.” It is also imperative to add essential information, such as date, time and price – duh right?
The copy isn’t finished until it goes through two rounds of proofreading to check for errors or inconsistencies.
Okay, the words are perfect now, they’ve been double checked and approved by you your savvy restaurant GM. Phew, you’re wiping your brow now. That was a bit epic.
The next step is to produce the visual elements for your kick-butt event including photos, videos, and graphics. Ideally, some of these will come from last year’s event, but if not, get creative and pick something from your content database. (Yep — you need one of those.)
The Bee Loud designers typically produce the following:
- Event logo
- Social media tiles (graphically designed image in the perfect size for sharing on social media)
- Snapchat filter (graphically designed overlay users can apply to their Snapchat posts)
- Email newsletter headers (at least 4 unique ones)
- Street banner
- Website landing page header graphic
- Contest landing page header graphic
- Table talker
- Print ad
- Content package for social media influencers to share (tiles and teaser copy)
- Content package for employee advocates to share (tiles and teaser copy)
If you build it they will come, right?
Your website landing page and your Eventbrite listing will be the cornerstone of your promotion. Your goal is to push as much qualified traffic as possible to these pages and compel people to make a reservation or buy a ticket.
There are lots of advantages to using Eventbrite for online ticket sales. Users love it because they enjoy the ease and convenience of booking online. Also, your servers and bartenders are always doing three things at once, and more phone calls are not ideal. Facebook recently partnered with Eventbrite to enable users to buy without leaving Facebook which makes buying tickets even easier.
Eventbrite also helps you avoid lost reservations by digitally recording every ticket sale. On the day of the event, your team can download the guest list or check guests in via their app.
Marketers love Eventbrite because they can collect guest email addresses and use them to promote future events. It also has a user-friendly dashboard that enables us to track ticket sales, so we know when to ramp up or turn off our promotions.
Contests help you build an engaged email subscriber list for your restaurant. It’s optimal to launch a “win free tickets” contest four to six weeks before your event, so you have ample time to get lots of entries. Promote your contest with Facebook ads targeted at your potential event attendees.
To enter the contest, users must share their name and email address. When they do, you should load this data into your Facebook advertising platform so you can show your event ads to these folks on Facebook and Instagram. Also, add them to your email database and include them in your newsletters (for this event and future ones). This is how you keep your event at the top of their mind so they don’t forget to buy a ticket.
Overtime contests will build your email user database so you can sell out your events with minimal marketing dollars (goodbye expensive print ads).
Speaking of Email
Your email newsletter subscribers are the people most likely to buy tickets to your event. So you probably want to send them an email newsletter weekly for four weeks prior.
You need to keep them engaged by ensuring that every email you send is unique, useful, fun and compelling. You can vary the frequency of email newsletters as needed. For instance, if your event sells out early, let everyone know because this will create anticipation and urgency for your next event and then send no more emails.
The effectiveness of your email campaigns will improve over time. Test what works for subject lines and calls to actions and optimize your approach for best results. Segment your email list so you can send the right message to the right person at the right time. You want to send a different message to people who regularly attend your events than you do to someone who has never attended, right?
Facebook is Your Friend
Facebook’s fantastic search functionality makes it easy for users to find events happening nearby, on a particular date or of a specific genre.
Your first step is creating an event listing the event details with a recognizable custom banner photo. Then boost this event listing with paid advertising. You can laser target users by geographic location, age, relationship status as well as users with special interests like food and beer.
When users click ‘going’ or ‘interested’ on your event listing their friends are notified. Talk about an excellent word of mouth promotion with a like-minded audience!
You can also target Facebook ads to users who previously engaged with any event page you’ve ever published, users who indicated interest in your event, or bought tickets to a similar event. You can also exclude folks who have already purchased a ticket (no need to drive people nuts).
Facebook automatically sends users who indicated interest in your event a notification reminding them that the event coming up, so they don’t forget to buy a ticket.
Facebook events listings also help us gauge how many people are planning on attending the event so you know how many crab cakes to make.
What Next? Hopefully Nothing. But if You Need To. . .
In most cases, a smart email and Facebook campaign is all you need to sell out a great event. However, if you need a bit more exposure, there are still some other tools in our event marketing toolkit.
Create a custom designed tile with the event name and date accompanied by a caption that teases the event with a Call to Action to learn more. A tagged link will take users to the event landing page on your website.
Create a hashtag campaign for your restaurant event. Expand the reach of your Instagram posts by researching and using hashtags that will reach your target audience.
Also, develop an event hashtag and use it to generate online buzz before, during and after your event. You may want to incentivize event attendees to post images and video using the hashtag during the event so that you have great content for next year’s promotion.
Update Your Links
Usually, your property Twitter, Facebook and Instagram bios link to your website. But when you’re promoting a big event, you may consider changing these links, so they send visitors directly to the event page.
Social Media Influencer Outreach
Bee Loud works to build relationships with local bloggers and social media influencers. We maintain lists of users with more than 3,000 followers on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. We vet them to ensure their interests and style are aligned with the brands we promote. If we need extra exposure for an event, we can send them content to share and offer them free tickets.
Why not get your team members to promote your event on their social media platforms? Provide them content and incentivize them to share it!
Last But Not Least (Well Kind of Least)
It is important to promote your event on property with table talkers and posters and to ensure your team members are prepared to talk about the event with your guests and tell them how to purchase tickets.
You can also find partners who are willing to promote your event with you (yeah local breweries).
Other tried and true event promotion tactics are press releases, radio ads (stations will often trade), posting flyers on community bulletin boards, placing print ads in local entertainment magazines and updating free local event listings.
Don’t forget to send good content producers to your event to share on social media after the event. Save this great content for next year’s event promotion.
Sound fun? Good! Go plan some events!