I get invitations to events almost everyday. Conferences, webinars, networking, educational, panels, informal happy hours and more. And I also have organized all of these things on both a large and a small scale, usually working with a multi-disciplinary team. But when I’m scanning all those invites that come across my desk via email, social media and even texting, I am always surprised how often those invites fail on a very basic level by leaving out information I need to make a fast decision to either attend or learn more. These things are those basic elements listed in the title of this post.

Events are very basic, yet powerful marketing tools. When someone accepts an invitation they are pre-qualifying themselves as having an interest in what you are offering, an interest they are willing to demonstrate by spending some of their time, and in many cases, money. These are super leads. Yet the six elements I list must be front and center in the invite or you lose the opportunity to capture them right from the beginning. Let’s look at each and why you should never ever leave them off of your messaging:

  • Who. Who is sponsoring or organizing the event and who is likely to attend? As a sponsor, your reputation will often catch attention, in a good or bad way. If it is bad this post is not for you- you’re not ready to go out it into the world with this. But many people attend events because of the other people who will attend, people they are curious about or need to know. Peers, customers, competitors, friends…Your description should give a picture of an average attendee.
  • What. What is the purpose of this event and why would I care? If your event is highlighting a new product or service, describe that service but tell the reader exactly why they might be interested. Be specific. If you cannot find a benefit to your audience that is extremely compelling you need to rethink what you are doing before continuing with the event.
  • When. As obvious as this may seem, it is not uncommon for an event planner to forget this important information. Not just a ‘save the date’; the details (date, time, duration) and a calendar invite mechanism. When you get on someone’s calendar they are far more likely to attend.
  • Where. See above.
  • How. This is somewhat more complex. How do I register? What is the agenda so I can plan my participation? Is there travel involved or a call-in number and event code? Make it as painless as possible.
  • Why. Circle back to What. The ‘closer’ on your invitation is hitting them again with the most compelling reason, from their POV, for attending.

Get these right and you will see attendance and the quality of attendees rise. Screw them up or leave something out and you lose people right at the first contact.

Finally, understand the user experience. You want them to open your invite and read it. You want them to get to registration or RSVP with a single click or call. You want to collect their information, usually email addresses, without looking like you’re going to spam them in the future (more on this in another post). For attendance events I strongly recommend using an online service like Evite that won’t let you leave off critical information on your invite, that manages calendaring and attendee lists and even gives you name tag files (always use name tags- always!). Make sure you take the time to fill out all the fields they offer even if not ‘Required’. Many people want to know more info at this stage. Ditto for webinars- use a good service and make sure several people in your group vet the invites for errors and to ensure you don’t leave out any of the basics.

A well planned event is a pleasure for all involved and, if nothing else, will improve your reputation and help ensure that attendees remain open to future interaction. That’s the goal, isn’t it?