If you've ever created a new program or planned an event you know that, compared to marketing and filling your program, development is the easy part. In fact, too many would-be-remarkable programs and events go by the wayside because the experts behind them give up on marketing all too soon.

"Experts with valuable content to share often build great programs, events, and offers and hope that their ideal clients will find them," says course creation/marketing expert and founder of Create 6 Figure Courses®, Jeanine Blackwell. "An opposite mindset is necessary. To fill your programs, you need to understand who your people are, where they hang out online, and how to put your content in front of them." It was only when Blackwell stopped waiting for her tribe to find her, and instead found where they were online, that she was able to put her program marketing messages directly in front of hundreds of thousands of prospects that fit her ideal client profile.

One of the best tools at your disposal for following Blackwell's advice is Facebook. 

Social media thought leader and popular Facebook marketing expert, Mari Smith, says, "Facebook and Instagram both offer incredible granular targeting features to reach your exact ideal audience at a very affordable price. With 1.55 billion and 400 million active users respectively, business owners have an unprecedented opportunity to get in front of their perfect people." 

Smith and Blackwell have teamed up to share their strategies at a 2-day business building event focused on how to find the perfect people to fill your courses, coaching programs, and other offers. I got a little sneak preview! Below are only a few of the insights and Facebook-related strategies that they'll be sharing at the January event.

Tell a visual story. Use imagery and content-rich promotional posts on your Facebook business page.

Your connections want to be entertained and they want valuable information. If they like what they see they'll also want to know how they can work with you further. Avoid posting "sales" messages every day and give your audience a dose of "reality". Like it or not, reality TV is a cultural phenomenon; people like to see behind the scenes because it allows them to compare their reality with yours. 

Show images of your creative process. The images and posts shared by Blackwell's team are often of themselves creating, planning, and promoting their events. These posts enjoy an especially strong engagement from Facebook followers. 

Share video of your guest experts.

Do you have guest experts featured in your event? Post one of their videos with a subtle connection to your program. Blackwell shared one of Smith's latest teaching videos saying, "Mari's going to be coming in January, did you see this?" Notice that she did not outwardly promote the event, but instead highlighted the kind of valuable content attendees will learn in the event.

Create a contest.

The key is to make this really simple. Create a post on your Facebook page inviting contestants to post a comment in response to a relevant question. Blackwell asks questions like, "What's the biggest challenge you face in finding your perfect clients online?"

You can promote the post to get extended reach. If you have high-profile guest speakers for your event, recruit them to judge and choose the winner. You can give away an event ticket or some branded merchandise.

Use content-rich blog posts to get them to take the next step.

Your number one priority is always to get people to opt in so you can connect with them further; great content will do the trick. "The best way to identify compelling content for your audience is to focus on your ideal client's questions," says Blackwell. "Lead with their question in your blog posts, Facebook posts, and event sales page copy." Share the link on your page and be sure to give your readers an easy way to subscribe when they get there. 

Create a sense of community.

Remember that attending an event is a social experience. You can build community before the event by sharing posts that highlight "behind-the-scenes". You can also create a Facebook group for event attendees and offer opportunities for the conversation to continue through the people who have already signed up. They are your strongest influencers because they have friends and peers with the same interests. Don't make the mistake of ceasing to communicate with those who have registered already. 

As an example, Blackwell's team created a share button that activated a coupon code for a free download related to the event when someone shared their information. It resulted in close to 100% referral participation with a very strong conversion rate!

Use Facebook retargeting ads.

With Facebook retargeting ads you can market directly to people who have already visited your event page, but haven't committed yet. Retargeting ads can be used to show "Early Bird ending" or "Registration closing" messages to everyone who has shown interest in your event by clicking on your event sales page.

Here are some quick tips on retargeting ads:

Place the Facebook tracking pixel on your sales page to track visitors.

  • You can also upload your mailing and/or customer list to create a "custom audience" to show your event ads.
  • Create a "lookalike audience" of the email list you uploaded - Facebook will then go out and find people just like your customers or prospects! These people are more likely to be interested in your offer since they share interests or characteristics with your existing community.
  • Show ads to your custom audience of prospects/customers, especially as registration deadlines approach. 

Finally, Smith states, "Generating qualified leads in today's digital world takes an omnichannel approach, with multiple touch points. From a user standpoint, retargeted ads can sometimes feel weird when you suddenly see an ad following you around the Internet for the very thing you were just looking at online. However, from a marketing perspective retargeting really works. It's a very effective way to ensure you stay top of mind with your prospects, as not everyone makes a buying (or sign up) decision the first time they visit a website or landing page from an ad or blog post."

Published on: Dec 10, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.