We’ve all been there. You’ve got a great event idea. You can’t wait to get it live. You’re just waiting to see all those registrations roll in. And then…nothing.
Where is everyone? As hours and days roll by, and still nobody is signing up for your event, the panic sets in. How can you promote it? If you’re limited on time, budget or ideas, promoting your event can seem like a mammoth task.
Don’t worry – you’re actually spoilt for choice! There are loads of ideas on how to promote an event, and below we’ve gathered a comprehensive list of free and effective ideas for you to try.
33 Ways to Promote Your Event
A great way to market your event is to write an engaging article and link some of the content to your upcoming offering. If you don’t have a blog where you can publish your articles, there are a wide variety of websites which invite you to submit content for free. Make sure you share the article on your social media platforms once it’s live. Read this blog for more tips on the type of post you could create to promote your event.
- Promote on Twitter
Twitter Hashtags are a great way to help make conversations around particular topics easy to find. While we recommend you create a hashtag for your events, it’s good practice to engage with existing hashtags too. Check out our handy guide to hashtags for events here. You could also use a Twitter Chat to create conversations for potential attendees around a topic of your choice, which would give you an ‘in’ to invite them to your event.
- Email marketing
Let your database do the work for you! Send a tailored email to all your contacts stating why, when and where they should attend your event. Add pricing information and a ‘Share’ button to help them forward the email on to people they think would also be interested – word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Create mailing lists based on interest (technology, sports, music etc.) and then target your email to each of these groups.
- Utilise listing sites
Promoting your event on listing sites is an effective way to market it to a wide audience. Event listing websites like evvnt already have a strong viewer base and target relevant ads to their email lists, too. By submitting your event to one of these sites you can become syndicated with a wider range of websites and marketplaces that will spread the word further, with no extra effort.
Featuring your upcoming event in your own weekly or monthly newsletter is a cost-effective way to promote it, and allows you to reach people who are already interested in your work. Remember to add the link to the event page and use an impressive image that will catch your audience’s eye. Establish the key information you want to convey, and write concise but engaging copy with a bold hook to ensure the reader will want to find out more.
You can tap into your network of other businesses to promote your event. If you have any business partners or if you’ve created strong relationships with other companies in your industry this is the right time to get in touch with them. You can offer to add their logo to your promotional materials in exchange for their help in spreading the word.
- Mobile discovery
Nowadays selling tickets effectively on mobiles and tablets is a must. You need to be sure the discovery process is slick, your event pages looks great on any device, and the process is easy and quick.
- World of mouth
Call on your community and supporters to help get your event out there into the public consciousness. Encourage people to tell their friends, colleagues and relatives for a bigger outcome. We all trust recommendations from people who know us, which is why word of mouth continues to be a highly effective marketing method.
- Facebook groups
Public and private groups are a handy Facebook feature which allow you to interact with like-minded people on specific topics. The best use of Facebook groups is when you are genuinely engaged with a community so try to provide value all year round. Maybe you could set a calendar reminder once a week to check in with your Facebook group community? Then, once you’ve built up a rapport and some trust with the particular group, they’ll be receptive to the promotion of events relevant to their interests.
- Publish an article on LinkedIn
Once available to only the top 1% of influencers, LinkedIn has since opened up their publishing platform to everyone, and if your event has a professional or B2B slant this is a fantastic opportunity to build your credibility and thought leadership to drive ticket sales. Here’s more on how to use it to promote your event.
A great place for posting visual updates about your event to generate interest and ticket sales. If your event covers crafts, creative industries, food, drink, fashion or other topics that lend themselves to visual representation, this is a top choice for you! Sound interesting? Then check out these 8 examples of event promotion on Pinterest.
- Instagram stories
Instagram stories and its Live feature are a great way to get in front of an audience and immediately capture their interest. Record a quick snapshot of someone talking about your event. You could even do a live Q&A session on Instagram stories or IGTV, allowing potential attendees to send in questions beforehand. Answering queries will make the difference between them showing an interest and buying a ticket.
Slideshare is another huge social network owned by LinkedIn, and primarily dominated by B2B and professional focused content. You can use it to share information about your event and drive targeted traffic back to your site. Here’s a great guide to how to utilise it effectively.
YouTube is a massive social network where video is at the heart of the action. If your event lends itself to interesting and unique video content (whether they’re high octane and slickly produced; or simply interviews with speakers), this is a marketing channel you should put at the top of your list. You can also share footage from previous events to help give attendees a taste of what to expect.
- Messaging apps
Messaging apps are hotter than hot right now, but because they’re primarily made up of private conversations, they’re a somewhat tricky avenue for brands to tap into. However, you could use an app like Whatsapp to build up a marketing list where you share interesting content of value to your particular audience. Then, as your event rolls around you can include one or two broadcasts with all the details.
The web goes ga-ga for infographics, and now with free design tools like Canva, Piktochart & Venngage it’s free and relatively easy to produce them without paying for an expensive designer. Infographics can build backlinks to help with your SEO and for social sharing, so they’re a useful form of indirect promotion for your event.
- Publish a free eBook to Amazon
Taking a step up from the humble blog post, if you really want to make an impression why not collate all of your knowledge and publish a free eBook on Amazon? Millions of people own kindles, and if you can generate some good reviews early-on, this could be an impressive and stand-out way to earn credibility and awareness amongst your target audience. In turn, this will help generate ticket sales for your event! Learn more about successfully publishing eBooks here.
Podcasting is becoming huge – with the explosive popularity of programmes like Serial opening up the medium to a wider audience – and it’s used by both consumers and professionals. If you want to build up a regular audience all year round for your event (hint, if you can, you should!) then this is a powerful way to do it. We’ve got a great guide to podcasting right here on the blog.
- Internet forums
The web 1.0 was pretty much built on forums, and they’re still going strong! Some will accommodate multiple topics and threads like Reddit and Quora, while others will focus on a specific community like Mumsnet or Pistonheads. The communities on forums can be pretty testy if they feel they’re being sold to though, so a word of warning to only use these as a free promotional tool if you’re willing to put in the time to become a proactive and trusted member first. If you contribute to conversations, answer questions and be helpful first and foremost, they could in time become a goldmine of support in the future.
- Free listings in local press
If your event is a local one, then your local press is a must for helping generate some targeted interest. Many niche publications will still carry free listings of cultural events and things going on, so pick up a copy and see how you can get your event listed too.
- Phone calls
It seems almost antiquated to try and get in touch with a person via phone, but for high-value tickets, it could be the only way to provide the level of information needed to make a sale. While employing salespeople is the only way to scale this channel (which can become costly), there’s nothing stopping you from picking up the phone today and seeing if it helps you shift those tickets.
Getting press interested in your event is a high impact way of generating registrations. Query local, national and trade press and offer yourself for interviews or informational articles. In addition, contact magazines or journals with a focus relevant to your event – they might mention you in an article. As we covered in previous posts, be clear what makes your event story interesting to their readership.
- Contra / Media partnerships
These are partnerships with a media organisation who will promote your event in return for you promoting their publication to your audience. They’re harder to get the smaller your audience, but if it’s valuable and targeted, nothing’s impossible!
- Utilise your network
Your event team, vendors and other business associates can help to spread the world about your event. Ask them to send out a quick Tweet, Facebook post or LinkedIn update to their network to help extend your reach. Most events will draw on several supplier relationships including venues, catering, AV and any number of other services. It’s in their interest for your event to be a success, so why not ask them to help promote it too?
- Attend related events
Check out Eventbrite, Meetup and local listing pages to find free events you can attend that your target audience is also likely to be at. If you can, reach out to the organiser first and see if they’d be ok with you plugging your event a little and maybe bringing along your flyers and business cards. If not, just attend like everyone else and casually drop your event into conversation, exchange contact details with interested parties and then follow-up after the event.
If you can speak or perform at a related event, this is a brilliant opportunity to establish your credentials and win over a crowd who will be interested in your event too. Whether you add a link to the end of your presentation or throw in a verbal plug, you’ve got yourself some free targeted marketing.
- Posters at local meeting points
Another angle on the flyers and business cards idea; why not chat to your local business owners and see if they would allow you to stick up a poster in their shop? Maybe you could do so in exchange for a free ticket for them. You can use online tools like Canva to design and print your poster.
- Guerrilla marketing
Guerrilla marketing is inventive and innovative, and will get the public on board with your brand using energy and imagination. Whether you unicycle down the high street in a crazy outfit or enlist a bunch of friends to perform a choreographed dance routine in a shopping centre, try to think of a relevant stunt that costs nothing, carries a message about your brand or event, and captivates the attention of passersby.
- Add to your email signature
Add a thoughtfully designed email signature to all of your emails with a visible plug for your event. You never know when someone might glance at it and think “Yes! I want to go to that!”.
- Update your voicemail
Why not update your office voicemail – or even your mobile – so every time someone can’t get hold of you, they hear a brief message about your upcoming event. Free event promotion when you’re unavailable…surely that’s a winning idea?!
- Add a pop-up on your site
If you use WordPress (or just about any website for that matter), you should check out SumoMe, a really fantastic free tool to help capture leads from traffic on your site. It also lets you create pop-ups, slide-ins and other hard-to-miss promotional assets.
Everyone loves a competition and the chance to win something for free. Free consultations, VIP pass upgrades, free tickets, gifts donated by your vendors or suppliers…be creative and you’ll find plenty of free give-aways to help fuel your competitions and drive more ticket sales.
- Optimise for SEO
Last but certainly not least, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a hugely important tool in your free marketing arsenal. It’s been mentioned several times throughout this list, and we’ve got an in-depth beginners guide to event SEO here. The objective? Be near the top of Google’s results when potential attendees are searching for terms related to your event. When that happens, they’re a step closer to clicking onto your bookings page and you’ll start to enjoy a constant flow of free traffic that can then be turned into leads or registrations.
You should now be brimming with ideas for how to promote your event.
Some of these ideas take more time than others, and all should be used with sense and sensitivity – don’t annoy your potential attendees by overwhelming them with promotional contact.
But with the right mix of creative thinking, tenacity and patience, you’ve got everything you need to promote your event and enjoy a sell-out success.