Event Promotion 101: 15 Creative Ways To Market Your Event
Planning an event takes a lot of time and effort, but it can be less daunting if you plan well in advance and use the right resources to help guide you in the process. The process becomes much easier if you have a team of people who are willing to take on specific event promotion tasks. Event planning can cause a lot less stress for everyone involved, so the better prepared you are, the less stressful, and more productive, the event promotion process becomes.
When Should You Start Promoting an Event?
Lead times are super critical to keep in mind, so event promotion tasks like event sponsorship and any sort of entertainment booking should be done well in advance. So if your event is featuring music or live entertainment, contact the musical groups or performers you want to feature as early as possible. They generally like to have about 10 months to make all the necessary arrangements for a special event.
The Goal of Event Marketing
The goal of any special event is to get a return on your investment that’s reflected in your monetary return and the amount of leads captured at the event. Although the initial planning stages, including finding sponsors and planning the event schedule, should take place up to 10 months prior to the date of the event, most event planners agree that the next big key to successfully promoting an event is targeting the right audience.
How Do You Get the Best Crowd at an Event?
If you want to see an return on investment for your event, you must get the right people to show up. Yes, it would be great to have a huge turnout, but if the event attendees aren’t interested in what you’re promoting, the event won’t succeed. Go for quality event attendees first, then quantity second.
If you’re building an event around your business, or a specific product or service, think about the types of customers who would buy those things, and tailor your event promotion to those folks.
For example, if you’re opening a new spa, you may want to target affluent women ages 22 – 45. If you are trying to figure out how to promote an event successfully, start with defining the right target audience. Once you have your audience locked in, then you can figure out how to market your event.
15 Creative Ways To Market Your Event
How do you market an event? Get creative with your ideas. Advertising for your event, you should begin approximately 40 to 60 days prior to the date and include a mix of the tactics below – depending on your target audience and where they participate online and offline.
- Traditional Marketing Tactics
- Social Media
- Word of Mouth
- Industry Influencer Marketing
- Customer Feedback
- Market the Speakers
- Free Ticket Giveaways
- Corporate Sponsors
- Leverage Existing Events
- Partner with Local Businesses
- Add Events to Local Event Calendars
- Low Budget Ideas like Friends & Family Event Promotion
We are going to dig into each of these 15 creative ways to market an event below. Then you can determine which of these event marketing ideas best suits your business, your event promotion strategies, and your target audience.
Traditional Marketing Tactics
In this section we will show you how to promote an event using traditional marketing tactics. Depending on the size of the event, and the associated spend for the event, certain traditional event marketing tactics are more highly recommended than others. For example, PR can be a great cost effective event promotion tactic. Press releases are an effective way to announce the event, especially if you have established media relationships. If you have a bit more to spend on promoting your event, you can use direct mail marketing campaigns. Let’s talk about a few additional traditional event marketing ideas for you to consider.
Promoting An Event At Checkout
Do you have a retail location, or are you partnering with any other local business who do? If so, promoting your event to customers when they are checking out in your store is a great tactic. These folks definitely meet your target audience criteria and they also like your products since they are buying something from you. You can work with your employees to ensure that every customer who comes through their checkout line gets informed about your upcoming event.
The three easiest ways to ensure your customers receive your event information are:
- Tell them. Simply provide your event details to your employees and have them mention the event to each customer during the checkout process.
- Hand them a postcard. Printing costs are more expensive than free, but providing customers with a tangible printed postcard with your event promotion details can have a bigger impact. Customers can take the postcard home as a reminder. You could even run a fun contest whereby any customer who brings the postcard to the event gets entered into a drawing at the event. The postcard can become a nice promotional piece for marketing your event.
- Text customers event information. Providing your employees with a tool like OnSpot Social allows them to collect customer contact information and instantly text event promotion details to each customer while they checkout. Just a like a postcard, the text message can serve as a reminder for the event. Not only that, but you’ve also successfully captured that customer’s contact information, which can be used for future event promotion.
Event Marketing with Local Media
One tried-and-true event marketing tactic is to use local media. Whether it’s running an ad in the local newspaper or finding local happenings websites that talk about things to do in the local area, local media can be a great tool for promoting an event. People are always looking for fun things to do in their local community, so community oriented media is a great place to get your event details in front of your target audience.
Remember to keep your audience in mind and choose the right local media platforms to fit that audience. For example, older audiences might be more apt to read a newspaper’s event section, whereas a younger more tech savvy audience may find things to do by browsing local happenings websites. Be sure to find the right local mix for your event.
One of the biggest questions we get asked is, “how can I promote my event online?”. Social media marketing works great for event promotion. One of the most effective ways to advertise your event is on social media pages because it’s free and can get you a lot of eyeballs. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are great ways to reach people that will attend the event. Facebook and LinkedIn offer affordable advertising that targets your audience. Create a page for the event on Facebook. You can easily promote it and advertising is inexpensive.
You can also capture social media followers at the event to help grow your business’s social media followers. Event promotion on social media can also go viral, which gets us into our next creative event marketing idea.
Word of Mouth
When people sign up, provide them with opportunities to share the information about your event on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook – encourage them to do the marketing for you.
Using Industry Influencers
Contact prominent people who are industry experts and have a following on their blog (these are called influencers). Invite these people to your event and it’s sure to get coverage on a lot of related blogs.
Never underestimate the power of blogging. This is one of the most effective tools you have available. It doesn’t matter whether the event is an established, long-standing event or brand new.
Blogging can serve several purposes. Your blog should focus on the purpose of the event, and how it will inform educate, or entertain attendees.
Creating content and blogging can boost your rankings in the search engines when people are searching for information. If you can enlist guest bloggers, especially those who participate in the event, it will give you more exposure.
If your organization features an annual event that’s well attended, especially by a specific group, vendors that exhibit every year and regular attendees get to know each other. Collect testimonials from event attendees about how much fun, worthwhile, or educational it is to attend the event. Testimonials from local residents are great, but are even more effective if they come from people who travel longer distances to attend the event.
An important point to keep in mind if your event is a trade show or convention, is that you must focus on what the benefits to customers are when they buy products or services from you. Trade shows are one of the best ways to find qualified leads. With the right event marketing tools, you can instantly send text messages to leads during the trade show booth.
Market The Speakers
If your event is featuring guest speakers, focus on the speakers education, experience, and interesting facts about their lives. This will generate interest in attending to experience a live event. If your organization has the budget to book a well known speaker, it will bring in more attendees. If you’re lucky enough to book a high-profile industry speaker, you might want to schedule a time for donors who contribute a set amount to meet the speaker in advance.
One of the best ways to promote your event is to offer the largest participating companies free admission tickets. You can request that they mention the event to all their contacts or share it on social media.
Getting corporate sponsors for your event is a win-win situation for both parties. When the sponsors advertise the event, not only is it good marketing for the event, but it’s a good marketing strategy for their companies. You may be able to make an arrangement with your corporate sponsors to get their assistance in advertising your event to their contacts.
Using Existing Events
Making announcements at other local events is a great way to generate interest. Local organizations and your church may allow you to make announcements about your upcoming event, which can generate a lot of interest with different groups.
Use Local Businesses
Local businesses are often willing to contribute to help with the expenses of organizing a special event. They can deduct the amount they contribute on their tax return, but many businesses are very involved in community events and are more than willing to offer assistance, especially if it’s a well known company. Local business owners that aren’t as well known or have limited resources may be willing to help in other ways by giving customers flyers or putting up a poster.
One of the best ways to promote your event is to have T-shirts printed up. You can use a logo and the name of the event. You could print the url of your website on the shirts for more exposure. People are receptive to colorful logos and remember them easily. A lot of companies can print shirts very inexpensively, and it’s an eye-catching way to advertise.
Using SEO is a little intimidating to people who aren’t familiar with it, but it doesn’t have to be. Search engines love blogs that constantly add fresh and interesting content.
When you’re writing blog posts for the event, make sure to:
- Use the word “event” in your title tags.
- Use it in combination with other words that your target audience would be interest in.
- Use bullet lists, images, videos, and internal links.
Add the Events to Local Event Calendars
Get the event added to local event calendars both online and on traditional media. Local cable stations usually run a listing of community events within their news broadcast, but can also provide advertising for local events that’s usually cost effective.
Low Budget Ideas
If your event is new or you don’t have a big budget to work with, get a team of people together to help promote the event. Friends and family may be willing to help by walking through neighborhoods and knocking on doors or leaving flyers.
The 4 Parts of Event Marketing
If you are new to event marketing there are 4 basic areas you’ll need to focus on for your event to be successful: planning, budgeting, defining your audience, marketing your event.
1. Coordinating the Event
Planning a special event takes a lot of coordination and cooperation. One of the most important things is to have a team of people who are willing to handle specific aspects of the planning to ensure the success of your event. You should start planning 9 or 10 months in advance to cover all the bases.
2. Planning Your Budget
Your event budget should include every detail, no matter how minor it seems. Some of the expenses to consider are local permits, security, ticket and advertising printing, food, and general supplies. You may also have to allow for guest speakers or entertainment. Part of the cost of the event can be offset by donations, business sponsors, ticket sales, and concessions.
3. Audience For the Event
The objective of your event should be to reach a targeted audience. For example, if your event is a music festival, you can reach out to people that have attended similar events, and may be able to contact them through a database. Contacting website owners that promote this type of event are a good starting point. They can advertise your event on their site.
This can be a big plus if the site ranks high in the search engines and has thousands of visitors each month. A beading or jewelry show could benefit from flyers or posters in stores that sell beading supplies. Advertising on forums online can also reach a large number of potential attendees.
4. Coordinating Your Marketing Campaign
People remember logos and slogans. Coordinate the theme of your marketing campaign with coordinating colors, a catchy campaign slogan, and an attractive logo. All of these elements should appear in all your advertising, including flyers, posters, and newspaper ads. Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They reach a massive audience.
When you’re promoting an upcoming event, you can take advantage of online and offline ideas to ensure the success of your event. The good news is that your event can be successfully marketed even if you’re operating on a small budget. Use your imagination, be creative, and try different trade show promotion techniques.