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How to Successfully Build Anticipation for a Surprise at Your Next Event

Taylor Shaw |

Attendees holding their mobile phones up anticipating  an event surprise There are so many ways to incorporate a wow factor at your event, but whether it’s a big reveal of a new product or a surprise celebrity speaker, you want to be sure to take the right steps and get the most out of it. Creative teaser campaigns will build anticipation, chatter and all-around excitement surrounding the attendee experience. When executed correctly, your wow factor will leave your attendees thrilled and ready for next year’s event.

By following these tips, you can successfully tease whichever surprise/wow factor you’ve chosen for your event. While there are plenty of unique special event ideas, we’ll use the “surprise celebrity speaker” idea as a template:

1. Tease it on social media and with marketing emails. Building anticipation and excitement with your pre-event content can boost registration numbers, as well as interest in the surprise factor itself. You want to keep your messaging hinting at the surprise. In the case of a surprise guest speaker, social media teaser campaigns can help hint at who might be relevant to the event without releasing a name. Silhouettes and “guess who?” or “keep an eye out for our special guest” posts that are shareable/interactive will allow you to promote the event in an engaging way.

2. Make the surprise intriguing on your event materials. You want your event program, agenda and website to feature the surprise without giving it away. Leave a time slot open with descriptions like “Surprise Speaker” or “Industry Expert.” The goal is to allude to the surprise without revealing, so your attendees will have something big to talk about in their downtime. Keep the programming visually appealing--colorful and minimalist--but with text that incites curiosity and adds to the mystery!

3. Capture the moment; plan to record and share the big reveal with attendees and followers alike. If you’re live streaming the reveal or celebrity speaker, promote the live stream ahead of time. Take photos and promote the event hashtag, so you can feature and repost your attendees’ photos of the moment. Everything you’ve been building up to is finally here, so you want to make the most of it, and get your attendees talking about this moment online. The more Instagrammable the moment is, the more likely your attendees are to share their experience online with others, and the greater word of mouth is surrounding your event.

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4. Get your audience involved with interactive sessions that compliment your surprise factor. For a surprise celebrity speaker, a Q&A session provides a great opportunity for your attendees to share a moment in the spotlight. If you’re using an event mobile app, you may want to consider a live polling integration to keep everyone engaged. These kinds of attractions let your attendees feel heard and enhance the entire event experience as a result. Be sure to capture this content, too!

5. Use the content from the big reveal and your interactive session to promote next year’s event. Q&A sessions with a celebrity guest make for great social media teasers. Many companies will format quotes from interactive sessions in order to grab the attention of their followers with simply-formatted, visually appealing content. Little teasers and snippets of speeches that link to the full content, or to event registration sites make for solid lead generation.

6. Although the memory of your fantastic surprise may be enough to satisfy your attendees, it doesn’t hurt to leave them with tangible reminders of their amazing experience too. A branded swag item featuring the celebrity or general surprise leaves your attendees with a physical reminder of the event they enjoyed. Mementos--like a coffee cup or a celebrity-specific item--can become a part of a daily routine, giving your event a lasting legacy.

Teasing your surprise/wow factor at your event is an integral part of achieving the ROI and overall event objectives you’re aiming for, and by following these steps, you can ensure your attendees enjoy their experience.

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This Post was Written by Taylor Shaw

Taylor is a summer marketing intern at Aventri. She is currently a rising senior at Fordham University, where she studies English and Marketing. On campus, she is the managing editor of The Fordham Ram, the university’s 100-year-old newspaper. She...

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