If you want your event to be a success, you must market it in creative ways to ensure that you get plenty of attendees in the door. Not only that, but you also want to be engaged with your customers before, during, and after the event in order to maintain the relationship. Finally, you want your event to stand out from the crowd and get people talking about your business.
With our 29 event marketing ideas, you will learn how to do all of this and more.
1. Consider Joint Marketing Events
Paul Chittenden, President, Bad Ass Work Gear
In terms of marketing events, I’ve found the best bang for your buck comes from joint marketing events and a very low cost way to do this is to do a joint marketing brunch. Team up with 2-3 similar but non-competing businesses that sell to the same customer base as you. This way, they invite their customers and each company gets to reach a new audience. Each company will give a presentation/demo or something similar (depending on your business). Do not sell. Teach. This is important. No one wants to be sold to, but if you prove you’re the expert, they’ll gladly buy from you. Serve brunch, mingle/network, and share the contact lists between your allied companies.
Example: a fashion boutique could do a runway show with other local boutiques. Or, they could team up with a hair salon and make-up artist and teach about current style trends, hair styles, and make-up tutorials. Or, an accounting firm could team up with an insurance agency and a wealth manager to teach local business owners ways to save money on taxes, how to negate risks of lawsuits and ensure proper coverage, and how to properly save for retirement as SMB
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Inc.
New trends in event marketing are taking advantage of the accessibility of new technologies, such as GPS and real-time tracking, virtual reality and/or 3D experiences, and integrating social media into the event to create exclusivity.
3. Work with Local Influencers
Beverley Theresa, Social Media Strategist, Social Media With Beverley Theresa
In the past when I’ve worked with small businesses who have an important event coming up, we invited local community social media influencers. This can be accomplished by sending the influencer a private message on social media or an email which acknowledges (and flatters) their influence they have in your city or your industry and invite them and a plus one to the event (with free admission if applicable), stating that you’re only asking them to come and if they have a great time you’d appreciate they shared their experience on social media. This is an easy way for businesses to reach people outside of their usual audience, especially if the business isn’t active on social media, and it also can boost attendance to the event and future events.
One of the small businesses I executed a campaign like this for had their event hashtag trending on Twitter in their city and trending in Canada. Afterwards, they noticed an influx of new followers and foot traffic from people in their target audience. Choosing the right influencers is key.
4. Create a Dedicated Event Website
Jeremy Marsan, Fit Small Business
Nothing impresses guests more than a full-blown website with a custom domain for your event: e.g. www.YourEvent.com. This screams “professional” and “high class,” and doesn’t take as much effort to set up as you might expect.
Click here to read our article about creating your own professional event website in under an hour, at a cost of less than $3/month.
5. Do Facebook Livestreams
Bobbi Baehne, President, Think Big Go Local, Inc.
While there are so many components to marketing a successful event, I have found that the 2 most powerful are Email Marketing and Facebook Live Streams. I have example after example that I could share, but just this week I did a 15 minute Facebook live to talk to our audience about our January training programs, then promoted it with about $20 to expand our reach. That night alone we had $700 in new registrations, new followers on our social platforms, a dozen new subscribers to our email list, and new members to our private Facebook group. Powerful stuff!
6. Work with Local Radio Show Hosts
Mackay Barr, Owner, Timberline Inspections LLC
Radio has proven to be a timeless avenue for events. We’ve successfully advertised events virtually for free utilizing local radio show hosts. Companies rarely utilize it for events because of the price; however, getting cheap or free advertising is relatively simple. Finding stations that appeal to your target market and then contacting the producer or the show hosts themselves will give you the ability to leverage the event with their business.
A lot of local show hosts run businesses and actually pay for their air time; you can often get them to promote your event for free by making their business a sponsor of it. You are trading advertising, they help get it packed, and then you help gain them legitimacy from potential customers.
Mark John Hiemstra, Writer & Content Marketer, Unbounce
There’s no better way to create a sense of urgency than to send prospects to a persuasive event landing page. It’s where you’ll tell people exactly why they should come to your event and what they’ll get from attending. In this article, Mark shares the elements that make a landing page successful with examples.
8. Create a Trailer Invitation
AJ Williams, Event Influencer, AJ Williams Events
The carrot is in the details. If you dangle the carrot they will come. Every detail you plan is essential for a successful event, from the venue, experience, the layout etc. Now dangle it, book a socialite that will bring crowds. Between his/her list and social media – it will be a hit. Create a trailer invite that’s edgy and smart that you can post on YouTube and social media. Make it great – the better the content, the more views you will have. This will also create anticipation for your event. You could also send a piece of the product as part of your invite to lure your guests to attend and receive the full product. Engaging your attendees right away with curated content they receive before the event and take home creates a buzz and a memory when executed well.
Once you lure your attendees, give them great engaging experience and content they can take-away like a small tip or tangible gift like a photo with your product or service message. And post away.
9. Use Local Libraries for Event Marketing
Jack Shinn, President, J Shinn & Associates
We have for the past several months been using local libraries to run our workshops. Local libraries have their own networks they use to market upcoming events. Our marketing costs are therefore zero because the libraries advertise to their networks and also run schedules in local newspapers. Our attendance has been between ten and fifteen people and this can vary depending on the size of the facility and the size of the library’s contact list.
Kelvin Newman, EventMB
When you’re hosting a trade conference, there’s a good chance that, in order to be profitable, you will have to get sponsors involved in your event. However, in many cases, that’s significantly easier said than done. In this article, Kelvin will show you the best practices for getting companies to sponsor your event.
Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo Blog
In this article, Mendelson gives 10 tips to increase ticket sales. Maximizing ticket sales at your event or conference can often be a challenging endeavor. In order to help event professionals struggling to increase their ticket sales, the folks at Bizzabo Blog put together an actionable guide based on event marketing best practices.
12. Build a Brand with Your Own Logo
Marc Prosser, Co-founder, Fit Small Business
Having a personalized logo goes a long way when it comes to brand recognition. Make your invitations, flyers, place cards, and emails stand out by hiring someone at Fiverr to design the perfect logo for you, starting as low as $5.
Looking for inspiration developing your company logo? Check out our article to see more examples.
13. Use Facebook Geomarketing
Hamzah Malik, Managing Director, Regent Branding
We use Facebook marketing to geographically target people who may be interested in your event using lead ads, or do one better and target existing customers of a business using the custom audience feature, and then narrow down by location. This shows a timely advertisements (videos work well here) to the relevant people, and we usually use short burst offers to incentivize attendance. For example, we’ve marketed an event before and said tickets are selling fast, and had a direct link to a typeform (free mobile friendly survey) for people to register interest super fast. This costs us around £20 ($28) in total and the last attempt got 60 people to attend a local event. If we know where our ideal audience is hanging out, we also geotarget areas and filter by interests and job titles.
14. Consider Wi-Fi Marketing
Casey Tibbs, Owner & Founder, Image Squared Marketing
For those with a brick & mortar location that receives plenty of foot traffic from customers/potential event goers, WiFi marketing is a great new way to improve both the marketing of your events as well as their overall quality! Store visitors opt into your WiFi marketing program in order to access your free WiFi. You then have the ability to send push notifications (as well as email & texts, in many cases) to users, track store visits, and more. Combined with a clever event marketing campaign, this system can allow you to increase event awareness, encourage ticket sales, encourage social sharing, and directly follow-up with event attendees in order to survey them for feedback that will allow you to improve the overall quality of your events!
Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studios
Email marketing is a great way to get attendees to sign up for your event. View Andy’s email marketing ideas plus tips about the event website, how to work with partners, and post event follow-up.
Content marketing is a great way to market your event. In this article, you will learn 20 ideas for every phase of your event’s progress. These ideas will help you increase signups before your event, amplify the excitement during your event, and repurpose event content after it’s over.
17. Market Your Event By Creating a Contest on Social Media
Generate buzz for your event through a social media contest, and give event tickets to the winner. Hootsuite allows you to share 16 different types of contests (from sweepstakes to Instagram contests) across your social media platforms, so you can post multiple campaigns at once across various networks.
Want to learn how to effectively manage multiple social media accounts? Click here to get started for free.
18. Have Interactive Entertainment at Your Event
Mitch Williams, Magician, Mitch Williams Magic Productions
Adding some unique, personalized, interactive form of entertainment to an event can be both a draw to help increase attendance, as well as a terrific way to make the event more memorable and enjoyable for your customers. For example, my area of expertise is interactive close up sleight of hand magic, which I customize to the needs of each event. Magic has nearly universal appeal, and adds a truly unforgettable element to most events. Depending upon the event budget, entertainers with some “celebrity brand recognition”, either locally or if possible nationally, can help enhance the event and add perceived value. Small music acts can also help set a tone and add some depth to the event.
With a little creativity, adding some unique entertainment to your event can literally make all the difference in how successful it will be as a function your customers will remember fondly and associate directly with your business.
19. Attract Event Goers with Disappearing Content
Justin Kerby, Founder, Cave Social
One great way to highlight an event is to invest in disappearing content. A Snapchat lens or geo-filter is a great way to get people talking about and sharing your event details with others. If you’re holding an open house, attending or hosting a conference, or throwing a grand-opening celebration, a geo-filter is a great, inexpensive way to promote your brand. It’s also something that not many other companies are capitalizing on right now, which immediately differentiates your event from others. Stand out by disappearing may sound like bad advice – but not in this case!
20. Be Proactive with Can’t-Miss Creative
Simon A. Thalmann, Digital Marketing Manager, Kellogg Community College
When we were looking to generate buzz and awareness about the premiere of an opera about Snow White on campus in 2016, we wanted to come up with promotions that would be impossible for our students to ignore but that wouldn’t be seen as invasive or annoying. One idea we came up with was to have one of the actresses from the production play Snow White by laying “asleep” on a decorated table for several hours in the main campus walkway. Curious students walking by couldn’t miss her as they passed, and many picked up fliers with information about the show as they did so.
In addition to being a great place/guerilla marketing technique, the initiative allowed us to take photos and video that were later used on our social media channels to promote the show. The strategy worked, helping the college draw an audience well above our average attendance for a spring musical here on campus.
21. Wear a Costume to Stand Out from the Crowd
Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO, Cheek’d
I attended Dublin’s Web Summit a few years ago and when I realized that over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men), I decided to stand out by wearing Angel Wings throughout the conference. I’d even scattered rose petals from the end of the aisle I was in that lead up to my booth. Of course, everyone followed them and found me in my gear. When I was checking out of my hotel to head back to NYC, I looked down at Judy Dench on the cover of the Irish Times and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my Angel Wings— inside there was another 1/4 page picture mentioning my business).
22. Attract Attention with Live Trivia
Crystal Hopkins, Social Community Manager, Buzztime
It’s more popular with guests than ever. That’s no secret. But there are secrets to attracting a crowd that will stay engaged with your brand. Putting on a live trivia event is a great way to create a highly energetic atmosphere where competition and spirits run high, and it’s easy with these three tips:
- Prizes: great prizes draw crowds. Get creative with your prizing and make sure you are promoting what your attendees have the chance to win ahead of your event.
- Questions: partner with a trivia system company rather than Googling for hours. Trivia systems provide you with relevant and accurate questions/answers, taking the work off your hands. Bonus: if you plan on running multiple live trivia events in the future, question banks are constantly updated and accessible on-demand.
- Host: Go in-house! Who is your most charismatic employee that can get attendees riled up? Using them, you’ll build a personal bond between your guests and your own staff, which will keep them coming back to your business again and again!
Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
Social media enables events and their planners to have long-term, nuanced, shifting interactions with attendees. Jay shares 7 awesome tips to integrate social media into your events seamlessly.
Sacha Cohen, Grassfed Media
Social media is the boom nowadays, and event marketing is not the exception. Using the same hashtag for all event-related social media posts can enhance buzz around your event. Here are some tips on how social media can boost the reach of your event.
In this article, you will learn what you should and shouldn’t do when marketing your event. For example, it’s a good idea to do big picture planning, but just make sure you are sharing this information with every part of your team.
Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner
This will encourage your speakers to share the graphic across their social media pages. Michael discusses this tip plus 9 other ways to use social media to get the word out about your event.
Joel Miller, AdMedia
When promoting a charity event, the goal is to minimize or even eliminate spending to ensure that the majority of funds raised go directly to the charity. Advertising can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to promote a charity event for free. Learn about all the ways to promote charity events that take only time, not money.
The International Institute of Event Management
Events can be dogged by cost overruns, poor scheduling, and customer dissatisfaction due to a range of factors related to planning, communication, and resource allocation. This article includes the five most common event planning mistakes, and ways smart event planners can avoid them.
Joanne Egan, Event Juice
Smart budgeting can leave you with extra cash for promotion. Here are 7 tips on how you can squeeze more into your event budget.
Robin Lickliter, HubSpot
One-off experiential marketing events can produce a lot of waste if mindful choices aren’t made during the planning process. Reducing your event’s impact on the environment and adopting a green approach is possible and is expected more and more by Eco-friendly attendees. Here are 10 tips on how to reduce your next event’s global footprint.
The Bottom Line
Hope you enjoyed these event marketing ideas from the pros. Have you used a creative marketing strategy to promote your event? Let us know about it in the comments section below.