As digital marketers, we're keenly aware that people are desperately seeking connection. Business happens online. Leads are generated online. But, at the same time, we know just the same that the less personal the way that you connect with a prospective patient the less likely they are to convert and the opposite is true.
So a physical one on one meeting is going to convert better than an in person event and in person event is going to convert a prospect into a patient more often than someone who download an ebook.
There's three reasons why a digital agency would write about event marketing:
- You should have (or already do) events to generate leads
- You should be integrating digital into addiction treatment event marketing
- There might be opportunities to take offline events o
nline with webinars or other channels
What Events You Should be Organizing
One of the ways that you can tell good marketing from bad marketing is that your prospect don't realize that they are being marketed to. I don't mean that in a deceptive way, but in the sense that they feel a sense of connection or like their questions are being answered, that they are learning something important to help them make a purchasing decision, and that it's when, where, and how they would ideally receive this information.
Hopefully I don't lose you with this one, but you can sell more by not "selling." Outside of your patients who are obligated to receive treatment through the criminal justice system, your prospective patients have never had more control over the decision-making process and there have never been more options open to them. They are ultimately in control of the outcome, not you. You can sure as heck provide a compelling reason to get treatment and to choose you over others, but when all is said and done, it's their decision.
Events are one of those environments that can move the needle. Here are some event ideas that work for many addiction treatment providers:
- Alumni and family reunions. Reunion events are a fun time. It's got to feel good for family members and alumni to reconnect with your treatment center, the place that turned their life around! The people who attend your reunion are your best advocates. They are a great source of referrals and staying connected with them with an event is a great tool to generate more referral leads.
- Narcan trainings. Family, first responders, community activists, and other potential referral sources for opioid addiction treatment providers, will show up to such an event and with increased awareness about the opioid epidemic, you can get some earned media at the same time.
- Addiction awareness events. An "awareness" event takes a lot of forms. If you're not a nonprofit treatment providers, 5ks, benefit concerts, you name it are awesome opportunities to get the word about addiction and how you can treat people with it. For profit providers should consider seminars with other community leaders and addiction experts and focus on referral sources. There are also a number of nonprofit events that for profit providers can sponsor.
- Health and wellness fairs. Here's a time-tested event. It's not the most glamorous and you're only going to get so many leads from showing up at health fairs, but hey, most treatment centers can get some admissions or good leads from these events. Like the rest of these events, promotion is half of the battle. Even if you don't talk a soul the whole time, you can get traction from a health fair by promoting it on other channels off and online.
- Addiction task force meetings. This is a long-term play, but this is a great way to position your treatment center as the authority on addiction in your region, build relationships with referral sources, and otherwise win.
How to Organize an Event
Okay, there is a 4th reason why I'm writing a post on organizing events. I've organized a crap ton of events. If I have one takeaway piece of advice on organizing events, it's start at the end and the end is a plan to nurture leads from the event. You want to organize an event in reverse so that you are able to set reasonable due date and it helps ensure that you don't miss important tasks while organizing events.
Here's a fair, but not comprehensive since all events are different, list of considerations in reverse.
- Plan to follow up with leads
- Thank yous and follow up with event stakeholders, eg. vendors or sponsors
- Day of execution
- Signs ins
- Setup and tear down
- Day of planning
- Parking and transportation
- Food and refreshments
- Inform and/or invite stakeholders
- Develop promotion plan
- Determine date, time, and location
- Determine event topic
Another big takeaway for organizing a marketing event is if you think that it's going to take a day chances are it's going to take two. There are so many moving parts and stakeholders that are involved in organizing an event that while you might be able to check that box within a day it ends up taking twice that because you had to follow up with so and so who didn't get back with you and even when you heard back and can now confirm your location, or whatever, the person you need to touch base with there is out sick. It's just life, account for it.
You can overthink this whole process. This isn't quite a kids birthday party or anything, but in principle, you have organized events, you (hopefully) know a thing or two about generating leads and sales, so combine those things and voila, you have yourself a marketing event.*
*Professional event organizers' mouths have dropped. I apologize for the heresy and, yes, it's not 100% accurate... But if you're organizing a relatively low key marketing event and have the time to organize it, it can be done. Look to the pros for big events especially if you aren't willing to slowly but surely scale it up.
Digital Marketing + Event Marketing
One of the biggest opportunities for addiction treatment providers to generate leads online is real simple: take what you do offline and do it online. Goodness knows there's it takes time and effort to succeed online. I joke that it's a full time job just to keep up with Google's changes. At the same time, it's not rocket science to make a list of things that you do offline and think about how you can do the same thing online.
- Offline events are online webinars or another video
- Offline word of mouth is online social media marketing
- Offline direct mail is online ads or direct messages
The list goes on and on, but as it relates to events specifically, video, video, and video are the online equivalent. Go live on Facebook or YouTube and while you are at it, record it so that can you edit our clips. Now you've got 5, 10, or more pieces of content when you just had one before. Here's a bit of marketing wisdom: 10 opportunities for prospects to convert is better than one.
Your leveraging your event and turning it into so many more opportunities that will generate leads today and in perpetuity.
Integrating Online Marketing with Events
Here are the channels that you should be using to promote your marketing events online:
An added bonus is that you can take RSVPs, collect money for paid events, and access other tools to make organizing an event easier. Putting on my SEO hat, some of these sites like Eventbrite rank for a relevant long tail keyword or two and you might be able to eek out a backlink here and there.
PS. See if you can automate some tasks further with Zapier's EventBrite integration.
The obvious one! Here are a couple of tips to add value here. Cross post with caution. A solid Gary Vaynerchuk makes a great point here that the same person has a different intent on Facebook than on LinkedIn (or fill in the blank social media network). So a message that resonates on one will fall flat on another. You can link to the same content, but cue it up in a way that meets your prospect in the frame of mind that they are in. Also, don't be afraid to post multiple times. You might feel like you are overloading your audience but the half life of a piece of content on Twitter, 2.8 hours, Facebook 3.2, and YouTube 7.4 hours (another reason why you should be putting up videos of your events) according to Oktopost. Chances are you can take more bites at the apple than you are.
Ding! This is truly obvious one that many people forget. Your website is your home online and I've found that most addiction treatment centers are busy mowing someone else's lawn, sticking with my home metaphor, instead of tending their own garden. You should be leveraging other channels but don't forget to keep house. And you should be using this for other peoples' events too! When I speak at a conference, I typically write a blog post about the conference and with a little promotion I sometimes outrank the actual conference's website or at least in the mix. There's people searching for the events that you are attending and there is very little competition for those keywords, so a little investment in content on your website can go a long way.
Online Marketing Everywhere
Digital shouldn't just be an afterthought on your event marketing plan. The internet is where your prospects spend there time and if you're not getting their attention the addiction treatment center the next town over, or in Florida, or in goodness knows where, is.
If you're not all in on online marketing, check out our introduction to inbound marketing. It gives you the insights that you need to get started with online marketing across all of your digital channels and to leverage what you are doing offline to grow your census.