There are endless ways to market your event. Some marketing methods are quick, one-off tasks while others demand weeks of frequent attention. However, a strong event marketing strategy has a mix of both.
But before we dive into event marketing ideas, there is one thing you need to remember: your marketing should target BOTH existing and potential clients.
New customers are valuable for business growth, but never forget the importance of your regulars. Getting existing clients to attend an event means opportunities for upselling services, strengthening relationships, and showcasing new products they might not know about. Plus, existing customers will naturally act as advocates or evangelists on your behalf. Past customers attest to your quality. That’s a powerful sales tool to persuade potential clients who might be on the fence.
Now, let’s get into the good stuff. Here are some effective event marketing strategies.
Market Your Event on Facebook
Market your event on Facebook. NOW. Do it, even if you choose other channels too. Facebook events are shareable, and you can quickly invite a large number of people. Plus, once people engage with your Facebook event page, you can easily follow up with them through DMs, comments, and targeted ads. Even better, Facebook notifies others when their friends engage with an event. That gives you extra (and free) exposure.
The event page’s wall is a great way to answer questions, share updates, and more. Therefore, a Facebook event page is a great way to communicate with your audience and create hype about your big day.
Market Your Event on Instagram
I, like many others, discover events through Instagram. But, you might need to swing some marketing budget and time to succeed on this channel. Instagram is all visual, so be prepared to create enticing Instagram posts and stories and, yes, maybe pay for some sponsored posts. If your business and your customers are active on Instagram, like ours are, you need to spend time on this channel.
Paid Advertising In Event Marketing
This is a broad topic, so I’ll summarize several paid marketing channels into one category. Paying to get in front of people can be, and often is, very useful. While print media can be effective for some, paid digital ads are a smart gateway into the space.
“Boosting” a Facebook post to your business’ followers is one affordable option. Paying for a sponsored post of the event itself can be worthwhile, too. Better yet, Facebook owns Instagram, so a paid campaign on one allows automatic transfer to another. Plus, you can manage it all in one place with Facebook Ads Manager.
There are also Google Ads. Google’s display ads let you run banner ads on local media sites. This is often a cost-effective idea, but don’t expect great results from banner ads (the usual clickthrough rate is < 2%).
However, Google’s search ads are an interesting opportunity. Depending on keywords, search volume, and local interest, paying for Google Search Ads is worthy of consideration.
To be blunt, all paid digital ads are complex, and they’re useless when not done correctly. So trust me on this – talk to a professional or do some research. At the least, take a brief online course on paid ads before launching your own. It’ll make all the difference!
Market Your Event on Local News & Media
This is one of my favorite event marketing channels, and it’s so often overlooked. Local media covers a broad umbrella. First, you have your local radio stations, TV programs, magazines, and newspapers. Next, there are local bloggers, news websites, and classified sites. Most of these media channels, especially at the local level, are delighted to share upcoming events.
If you take the time to call, write, or even DM your local media, some will bite. If you’re lucky, you’ll gain serious publicity! Don’t believe your event is too small or too niche. As long as your event’s theme is attractive to your customers and the channel’s audience, it’s a fit.
Magazines like Time Out and many other publications allow you to list your event for free or for a small fee. Just be sure to work on any monthly or print publications as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss publication dates!
Create a Meetup
Meetup is a popular website to discover events and gatherings. The site is big enough to have users in most places, especially in the US and Europe.
First, create a group and set up a meetup as part of your event. The website will walk you through this process. Plus, Meetup does the marketing for you by inviting people who have indicated an interest in related activities. Cha-ching.
Next, reach out to existing meetup groups who might be interested. Invite them to host their Meetup in partnership with your event. It’s a win-win for both parties. While the group gets a fresh, fun venue, you get a new community attending your event.
Eventbrite is loved by search engines, so your event is bound to show up on Google. It’s got a massive audience too. People visit the Eventbrite homepage to browse events. Hopefully, they’ll stumble across yours.
I love email marketing. There’s no better way to reach your existing clientele. Without question, use email to market your event. Don’t be shy and send one email – send a lot! Start as early as possible then increase frequency closer to the event.
In your email campaign, highlight everything from speakers to products to giveaways. I repeat: Don’t. Be. Shy. Event marketing ain’t for the bashful.
Influencer marketing sucks (in most cases). Let me explain.
For local events, you probably don’t need a duck-lipped Instababe or shirtless fitness model to post about your event (unless that’s your thing). I’ve seen many events throw away money at “influencers” that don’t influence any ticket sales.
Instead, think of local, respected thought leaders who have a following that intersects with your customer base. Give them a free ticket. Maybe invite them to speak. At the least, tell them about your event and ask them to share it with their audience. You have nothing to lose.
For one of my conferences, we invited a well-known entrepreneur with a large Twitter following to moderate a panel. As a result, he attracted a significant number of attendees. He also introduced us to other business leaders who also spoke on panels. Better yet? His introductions each had their own substantial followings for added exposure. The snowball effect worked in my favor, thanks to an influencer.
So, invite well-known industry-folk or locals. Someone doesn’t need to be Instafamous or a Youtube celebrity to draw a crowd.
Turn Attendees into Event Marketers
People are excited about your event (well, hopefully, some are). Tap into their enthusiasm and make them your marketers. Use registered attendees to refer others. How? Incentivize it.
You could offer deals at your event like free drinks or lower entrance fees. Group discounts are another way to encourage interested individuals to invite their friends. If your product or service is high-priced, you could give a referral commission.
At the least, ask your top customers to invite friends. You have a relationship with them, so it’s not too much to ask, politely.
Create an online community
My last event marketing tip (for now) is to create a closed online community. Create a Facebook Group, LinkedIn Group, or Slack channel where attendees can network and continue conversations after the event.
This strategy works great for service-based or online businesses because customers can engage directly with you online. Plus, this online community is an excellent way to market future events!
If you cultivate an engaged community, you’ll have a ready-made referral team on tap!
Try Different Tactics To Market Your Event
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t. It’s not reasonable to do all of these event marketing tactics – at least not for most small businesses. Instead, dip your toe in each of these and see which ideas work for you. You want to be comfortable executing your marketing plan. Choose strategies that feel right for you and your event.
One of my favorite marketing activities is the bullseye framework. It’s a way of prioritizing and testing marketing ideas. I recommend it if you’re paralyzed by too many options.
In the end, just pick one marketing channel, test it out, and see if it works. Focus on it exclusively until you’re sure of its results. Then, introduce more event marketing ideas into the mix!