6 Powerful Referral Strategies for Events

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6 Powerful Referral Strategies for Events

Promoting your event can seem like a full-time job. However, with a little thought, you can get your guests to do much of the heavy lifting on your behalf.

We live in a viral age where a meme or social media post rack up millions of shares/retweets/hashtags etc., in no time at all. These viral phenomena can, on occasion, even make international news.

Think about the last time you threw a big party. You probably invited double or triple the number of people you actually wanted attending, with the idea that only about half the people you invited would actually come.

You can spend hours or even days, sending out email or mail invites, with only a fraction of people ultimately RSVPing and an even smaller number actually attending. How then, can you leverage that word-of-mouth viral power to, not only, spread the news of your events, but also incentivize more people to attend?


#1 Offer Group Pricing

This is one of the more obvious strategies, but also incredibly effective. Offering a discount to attendees if they can convince a few friends or colleagues to come along with them, is a great way to incentivize your audience.

Shoptalk, the world’s largest retail and e-commerce conference, uses this strategy to boost its ticket sales. The standard rate to attend is $2,500 per ticket, although qualifying attendees can receive a 26% discount on this. However, should attendees purchase three or four tickets at once, the per-ticket price drops to $1,750. Five or six costs $1,700, and so on.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out there’s a real incentive there for the single person you’ve invited to share the news of your event and find eight or nine more people who would also like to attend.


#2 Create Onsite Incentives

Creating special incentives and experiences for people who refer others is another great way to incentivize your audience.

Examples include: exclusive panels for those who come in groups, access to a VIP lounge, the opportunity to meet and greet with speakers, or even gift bags. Even the most altruistic of people like to feel like they are getting something special that others are not, so offering these incentives provides a great way to sell that idea of exclusivity and incentivize your guests to book in groups.

The UK-based Ashford Designer Outlet offers a range of exclusive benefits for pre-booked groups, including VIP packs, a voucher for a 10% discount in participating stores, exclusive discounts, and special meal vouchers, which demonstrates just some of the special incentives which can be offered for group bookings.


#3 Utilize Competitions

These are a dime-a-dozen on social media these days, with hundreds of brands offering competition entry in exchange for some combination of liking, commenting, and sharing a post, or uploading one of your own.

The UK’s biggest dance event, Move It, runs a competition on Instagram where users can win a pair of VIP tickets for the event, with the following rules:

  • The entrant must follow the Move Ii Official Instagram account – @moveitshow

  • Take a picture of “you and your dancing BFF”

  • Caption it with why you and your “BFF” deserve the VIP treatment for #MOVEIT2018

  • Tag Official Move It Instagram account and your selected friend, and include the hashtag #MOVEITSquad in your caption

A single winner is then chosen at random from all those who apply. For the price of two tickets, you can generate a huge amount of social media buzz and promotion around your event.


#4 Leverage the Power of Your Speakers

Speakers who frequent the conference circuit will come complete with their own army of passionate fans who follow them on social media. If you have any of these heavy hitters on your agenda, make sure to encourage them to promote their attendance to their own audiences.

Famous faces such as Tony Robbins have access to millions of followers on social media, meaning these influencers can have a significant impact on the promotion of your event.

Create bespoke images for them to share detailing their attendance. Remember, they benefit from more people attending as well, so it shouldn’t take too much convincing.


#5 Ask!

Don’t underestimate the power of simply asking you guests to help promote your event. They’ll have a better time at a packed event than a sparsely populated one, so encourage them to share the news.

When they’ve purchased their ticket, have a simple sharing tool which enables them to tell their friends about the event. Every time you post something about the event on your social media accounts, include a polite request to share it around. Excitement is contagious, so make sure your posts are packed full of personality and enthusiasm.


#6 Harness the Power of Personal Invitations

With a platform such as InGo you can make the registration process social, and faster. Once registered, InGo makes it easy for attendees to share your event with their contacts. Real posts from your guests will appear in newsfeeds rather than sidebars, and they can even send personal messages directly from the platform, helping spread authentic word of mouth. InGo believes your future attendees and exhibitors are in the network of your current event community, and the only reason your current community is not inviting them, is because they are not empowered to do so. InGo solves this by suggesting your most relevant contacts and makes it possible to invite them with one click. This leads to colleagues and contacts receiving a personal invite from someone they know and trust. Finally, InGo keeps everyone informed as their network registers, and sends suggestions for more people they should invite.


Final Thoughts

Referral marketing is often overlooked in the maelstrom of content, social media, and emails, but your audience is deeply engaged, they give days of their time, and sacrifice the woes of travel to be at your event. Empowering your attendees to do your marketing for you is the most powerful tool in your belt. Think outside the box, and you can have other people doing the lion’s share of your promotion for you.


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InGo was awarded a Top 100 Event Planning Blog Award by Feedspot in 2017.