A famous movie quote would have you to believe that “if you build it, they will come.” However, we do not live in a “field of dreams,” and simply putting together an event is not enough to ensure that people will come. There are few things that are more deflating than spending months planning a truly awesome event only to have no one show up to the event. Adequately promoting your event will increase the chances that you will be able to bask in all of your event planning glory when your event is full of awestruck guests. Here are some clever ways to promote your event and get people to attend.
1. List your event on event discovery sites
A quick Google search for local events will lead many people looking for something to do to event guide websites like Eventbrite. You can tap into this market by listing your event with these online guides. Putting your event on an event ticketing platform, like Eventbrite, that partners with the best discovery sites, makes it easier to take advantage of sites like Bandsintown, Eventful, Spotify, Facebook Events and Goldstar.
Once you get your event listed, be sure to offer people the ability to easily buy tickets without leaving the page. This will help minimize the risk that ticket-buyers will get distracted before checkout or losing interest due to a slow loading site.
2. Network at similar events
Consider where members of your target demographic hang out. Get a booth at events they frequent or become a sponsor at events that are not your direct competitors. Attending these events will allow you access to the people you are trying to attract to your event.
3. Create content marketing that provides valuable information
When creating your content – blog and social media posts etc. – do not resort to tactics like over-using keywords for search engine optimization, or over-selling your event. Instead, provide information that readers will find valuable and can actually use. This will help you position yourself as an expert and people will be drawn to you for insightful information. Engage potential event attendees in thoughtful conversation. The more trustworthy you and your brand are the more likely people will be to share your information and buy from you.
4. Use professional/good images
Images help give people a better understanding of what your event is all about. They help describe the vibe of the event and answer questions potential event attendees may have about the atmosphere of the event. Professional pictures of the event are the best options, but if you cannot afford to hire a photographer, use what you have. Most modern cell phones are capable of taking pretty decent photos. Be sure to take well-lit pictures that will help define your event.
If you do not have images from the event, because you have not hosted an event before, stock images may be a great option for you. There are tons of sites that sell stock images. Look for images that reflect your brand, that particular event, and the specific demographic you are targeting. Using great photos are important, because they will be used for advertising, email marketing, online content etc. and are a direct reflection of your brand.
5. Use social media to tell stories
With both Instagram and Snapchat offering a Stories feature, and consumers’ ability to do live videos on Facebook and YouTube, storytelling via social media is very popular right now. These features will allow you to engage your followers by giving them a play-by-play, behind the scenes look into the planning of your event and during the actual event. By sharing your process, the ups and downs, you are being transparent and human with your audience, which creates a level of intimacy that makes p
eople feel connected to your event. Having people care about your event makes it more likely that they will attend.
6. Start a YouTube channel
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Chances are, someone is searching for information on a topic that is relevant to your event. As noted above, live video is very popular right now. YouTube allows you to communicate with people in real time. Get creative with the promotion of your event. You could put out behind the scenes videos, sneak peeks, insight into what participants stand to gain from attending the event, and introduction to event speakers/sponsors.
7. Do a ticket giveaway via social media
People love to win regardless of what they are winning. You could put together an enter-to-win style giveaway or an interesting contest of some sort. Ask your followers to tag a friend they would bring to the event. Each social media platform has its own rules around contests. So, be sure to check before starting your giveaway.
8. Customize your email lists / Email targeting
Instead of blasting emails to your entire list to promote an event, narrow your list into specific groups based on categories like, list members who have purchased tickets in the past or different demographics in your target audience. After identifying smaller segments of your email list, draft specific email campaigns that would appeal to that particular group. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp will help make this email targeting process easier.
If you do not have a mailing list, you can contact an influential blogger, social media influencer, or event promoter that has a following that would be interested in your kind of event. They will usually charge you a fee to promote your event to their lists.
9. Connect with an influencer
If you have not yet built your own following, you could tap into the ready-made audience of a social media influencer. Consider people with online influence like celebrities, popular bloggers, experts in a relevant field, YouTube stars and up-and-comers. For a fee, these influencers will make timely, strategic posts about your event. Be sure to look within your own social circle first to identify whether there is someone suitable for promoting your event.
Do not be discouraged if your budget does not permit you to be able to try all of these options at this time. Do what you can and be sure to measure your results. Keeping good records of your results – what worked and what did not work – will help you determine what promotional tactics to prioritize.