You know the saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Well, event promotion is similar. If you put on an event but don’t promote it, will it even happen? Without promotion, you probably won’t get any attendees because no one will know it’s happening.
While event promotion is simple in theory, actually planning a successful marketing strategy and promotion plan is not.
Of course, you’ve seen large-scale event promotions. But you’re probably thinking, “We don’t have that kind of budget” or “What are more creative ways to increase brand awareness and lead generation?”
Well, that’s what we’ll discover in this post. Let’s review some of our favorite ways to creatively promote your event without breaking the bank.
Free Event Promotion
1. Offer early bird registration.
A great way to promote your events is to offer early bird registration. This will incentivize your audience to sign up for your event early.
Additionally, this will give you a good idea of how to continue promoting your event — are people interested? What are their objections? Is your current marketing plan working?
With early bird registration, you’ll be able to gauge your audience’s interest and your marketing tactics. Plus, it incentivizes people to buy tickets as soon as possible for the discount.
2. Place a sign outside your business.
Of course, good old-fashioned banners are a great way to increase local awareness of an event.
You can post these outside your business or if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar business, then you can post banners throughout the local area where you’ll be holding the event.
3. Product a creative landing page.
The landing page for your event is the primary way to communicate information about your event. You should post all the details about the event — the day, time, location, topic, goals, etc.
Additionally, you can post an agenda so people know what the content will be like at the event. You can also use this page to post about speakers or influencers you have attending.
It’s also a good idea to include photos or videos from your last event and have an FAQ page that answers any repeating questions.
And of course, you’ll want to link to your social media pages and place a call to action on the page for people to purchase tickets.
4. Participate in content marketing.
Before your event, it’s a good idea to start posting about it throughout your content marketing channels.
You can post CTAs in your YouTube videos, discuss the event in your blog posts, talk about it in a podcast, or post on social media.
Whatever channels you use to post content marketing assets can be used as a way to promote your event.
5. Have event-specific branding.
Another great way to get the word out about your event is to have event-specific branding. Make your event a brand in and of itself. This is the way that HubSpot promotes the INBOUND event. INBOUND is a separate brand from HubSpot. It’s not just an event for our customers. It’s an event for any marketer, sales, or service professional who wants to learn more and educate themselves.
To do this, separate the event brand from your company brand. Have a different website, different colors, different messaging, etc. This will help attract people who don’t know about your company and are just coming across the event.
6. Use email marketing to reach your audience.
Of course, email marketing is a major way to reach your current audience. You should promote your event via email to different segmented audiences.
This will help let everyone who knows about your company know about the event. Plus, you can offer email subscriber discounts to incentivize current fans of your company to attend.
Social Media Event Promotion
7. Post pre-event behind-the-scenes posts.
Social media is another major way that you can promote your events.
One of my favorite event promotion strategies to follow as a consumer is to watch behind-the-scenes posts. I love a good BTS Instagram story or post showing how a company is preparing for an event.
Leading up to your event, post about it on social media. Post about the people you have coming to your event, or any cool decor items. This will get your followers excited about the event and could persuade them to buy a ticket.
8. Retargeting ads on social media.
We all know that social media is where people spend a lot of their time. If they’ve come across your company or other event promotion, social media retargeting ads are a great way to stay top of mind.
You want people to come across your brand continuously and to remind them about the event. Even if someone thinks an event is a good idea, they might not buy a ticket right away. Retargeting is a great way to get those customers at a later date.
9. Create an event hashtag.
While you’re promoting your event, a great way to talk to attendees or people who are thinking about registering is through an event hashtag. This will help you track mentions and stay in the conversation with people who want to attend your event.
This could also help get you trending and increase the number of people who are aware of and see your events.
During the event, again, this is a place for people to ask questions and for you to interact with attendees.
10. Work with keynote speakers, influencers, other brands, and sponsors.
Collaboration is one of the best ways to promote your event. Consider having event sponsors that will want to promote the event for you.
You can also have brand partnerships where you work with other companies who will tell their audience about your event.
Additionally, promote the heck out of your keynote speakers or any influencers that you’re working with. This is a great way to tap into their audiences to get the word out about your event even more.
It’s important to take advantage of other people’s following so people outside of your audience hear about your events.
11. Run a social media contest.
If you’ve run social media contests before and have had success, a social media contest or giveaway might be a good way to get the word out about your event.
You can host a contest where the winner will get tickets. Maybe they have to like your posts or comment and tag some friends. Either way, social media contests will help you garner awareness.
12. Create a social media filter.
A fun way to promote your event is to use a social media filter. You can create one especially for your event and showcase it on your social media.
If you get other people to use the filter, then you’ll be promoting your event to their audiences automatically.
13. Advertise on social media.
We can’t discuss event promotion without talking about social media ads. Again, people spend a lot of time on social media. Running ads with lookalike audiences on Facebook is a great way to advertise to a cold audience.
14. Post on Facebook and community groups.
Social media communities and groups are also fantastic places to promote an event. It could be a Facebook group or a subreddit.
Additionally, you’ll want to create an event page on social media so that you can share it in different groups or communities.
15. Host a social media challenge or takeover.
Social media challenges and takeovers are a fun way to engage your audience. With a social media challenge, your audience can directly engage with your company or brand. If you host a social media takeover with an influencer, again, you can reach their whole audience.
Social media posts, challenges, live streams, and takeovers are excellent ways to promote your events.
Now that you have a few ideas for how to promote your event, it’s time to start thinking about the timeline. When will you do these things? How close to the event should you promote? Let’s discuss below.
Event Promotion Timeline
3-4 months before your event
- Email marketing: Email previous attendees, give an early bird discount, etc.
- Post in social media groups
- Create a Facebook event
- Promote influencers/speakers/sponsors
- Launch website/landing page
- Create event-specific branding
- Post banners locally
6-8 weeks before your event
- Promote influencers/speakers/sponsors
- Set up search engine campaigns and any online ads
- Produce content marketing assets
- Run a social media contest
- End early bird promotions
3-5 weeks before your event
- Email marketing drip campaigns
- Retargeting ads on social media
- Have partnering brands/sponsors post about your event
- Create a social media filter
1-2 weeks before your event
- Create social media hashtag
- Post behind-the-scenes content on social media
- Use “last call” messaging
2-6 days before your event
- Send an email reminder to those who are interested
- Promote on social media
- More BTS content
Day of your event
- Run your hashtag
- Be active on social media
- Take photos/videos and post them online
- Engage with your attendees online
After the event
- Thank everyone for coming
- Look at the success of your event promotion
- Were people talking about your event? Did content marketing help? Did social media traffic result in ticket sales?
- Send a survey — to employees and customers alike — ask how they liked the event, what they liked, what they think could be improved, etc.
Promoting an event is a lot like juggling. There are a lot of moving parts to manage. This list, although it’s not exhaustive, should help you get started brainstorming about the best ways to promote your event.