In 2010, Sean Ellis introduced the world to a new kind of marketer – the growth hacker. Since then, growth hacking has evolved into an integral part of many startup teams. Successful companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Dropbox use growth hacking tactics to create a perfect storm of viral user acquisition and exponential growth. Although growth hacking has taken over the tech world, the basic profile of a growth hacker is simple – “a person whose true north is growth”.
What, then, differentiates growth hackers from savvy event organizers? Everything about event planning – from ticketing to promotion – is designed to get more great people to engage with what you have to offer. You can sell more tickets, engage your attendees, and take your event to the next level if you adopt a growth hacker’s mentality.
Growth hacking requires goal setting. Be sure that your event goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Set a strict – but realistic – timeline for arranging vendors, sponsors, and speakers. Similarly, determine goals for weekly ticket sales and monitor your numbers carefully.
Experiment to Succeed
Event organizers are intimately familiar with Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Learn from your missed deadlines and other failures through relentless experimentation. When issues arise, growth-focused event professionals find out exactly what went wrong, document it, and make the appropriate changes as soon as possible. In the same way that marketing professionals A/B test and throw out underperforming email subject lines, event professionals should never hesitate to switch vendors if better options are available.
Content is King
Many failed startups can tell you that even the best marketing strategy cannot possibly succeed when built upon a bad product. For event organizers, this means proving to your target audience that your event is relevant and exciting. The only way to do this is by putting out consistently beautiful and interesting content. A steady stream of social media and blog posts, coupled with an email campaign or something more creative, is the best way to maintain the constant, gentle contact needed to encourage registration.
“Going Viral” Takes Planning
Contrary to popular belief, virality is not serendipitous. “Shareability” must be deliberately built into your marketing strategy in order to capture exponential growth. PayPal’s legendary growth hack offered $10 to every new user, plus another $10 to the user who referred them. This simple idea landed PayPal tens of millions of users. In the same way, events capture virality when attendees are incentivized to refer their friends through social deals.
FOMO Is Your Friend
Make sure your potential attendees are constantly reminded about how awesome your event is. You can do this through first-person testimonials and unforgettable photos/videos from your last event – but only if you remember to collect them. Encourage speakers and sponsors to share content on social media. Even modest reminders, like including an RSVP link in your email signature, can go a long way. Hotmail’s choice to add a single line to the end of every email grew the company into the largest email service in the world.
Consider the Long Term
While growing your event, it is imperative to always keep an eye on sustainability. Don’t stretch a small planning team too thin, and never accept more attendees than your venue can handle. Lastly, remember to gather data and take detailed notes on everything that happens on the day of your event – this will help immensely when planning for next year.
What hacks have you used to grow your event? Let us know in the comments section below.