Event Marketing Ideas

published on Oct 5, '16

Event Marketing Ideas  

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Endless Possibilities: A Primer on Event Marketing Idea Generation

Plans for your forthcoming event are shaping up nicely. Have you spread the word yet? The first thing you need to do is create awareness of and excitement for your event. Of course, you'll have the usual event promotion ideas: Put an advertisement in the newspaper, tell everyone about your event on Facebook, write up a series of tweets or blog posts, and mention your event to people you come across each day. Aside from using these tried-and-true promotional ideas for events, you should also incorporate something unique, innovative and attention-grabbing. Here are a few ideas to get you started with event marketing.

It's a Bird! No, It's a Plane!

Have you ever noticed when a plane flies overhead trailing a banner behind it? What do people do? That's right. They look up, shielding their eyes from the sun, as they try to see what the banner says. St. Charles Flying Services, located in Portage de Sioux, Missouri, will design your banner and fly it around for an hour for $450. Now, you might not live in Missouri, but chances are good that there's a similar service in your own state.

Get Sponsors Who Don't Need to Spend a Dime

Many people are more than happy to support a local business putting on an event. The problem is, you might need their networks and their time more than you need their money. Financial backers are always welcome, but non-monetary sponsorships are also important for your event marketing plan.

How can you do this? Have people commit to spreading the word about your event, and give them a list of concrete suggestions for ways they can help. Here are some examples:

  • Post about the event every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next two weeks.
  • Tweet about the event each day.
  • Write a blog post about the event several weeks before it's scheduled.
  • Put up bulletins at your community center, the library, the grocery store, etc.
  • Wear a t-shirt advertising the event on the weekends.

Come up with basic ideas that become much more effective when done by a large group of people. Be sure to list these sponsors in your program.

Hold a Contest

People love contests. These fun challenges make a great addition to your list of event marketing ideas, and they can be as simple or as complex as you'd like. One easy way to get people interested in your event is with the classic "Put your business card in this fishbowl to win a free ticket" type of drawing. It's effective (because you get a fishbowl full of business cards, complete with numbers and email addresses), but it's not always that exciting. Consider one of these contests to add a little pizzazz:

  • Create a haiku or limerick contest, and offer the prize of a meeting with your event's speaker. Keeping the entry piece short means that no one will need to spend a lot of time working on it.
  • Have people guess the number of items in a jar ... or something bigger. Try to make it correlate with your event, if possible. For an art gallery opening, try having people guess the number of paint brushes in a bucket. For a nightclub, maybe they can guess the number of wristbands in an empty liquor bottle.
  • Hold a photo contest, with a catch: Entrants must post their photo to your social media platform of choice (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, depending on your target demographic), tagging your event page in the process. This type of contest gets people interested in and clicking on your event, and it also advertises to the entrants' friends and family members. Win win!

Do Something Crazy

Think about all the people who tune in when someone does something out of the ordinary. This individual might walk across a tightrope suspended between two buildings, jump out of a helicopter wearing a Superman cape, or wear a clown outfit to welcome visitors to a meeting or convention. You don't have to risk life or limb, but putting yourself out there, and doing something that will likely make the local newspaper, is a great way to market your event.

Consider having your theater group put together a flash mob and perform a routine at your local food court, strip mall or train station. You could also hire a magician to perform on the street corner to drum up interest in your upcoming festival. The possibilities are endless! Just be careful and don't break any laws or incite mass panic, as some of these wayward marketers did.

Your upcoming event is not going to be some ho-hum, same-old same-old experience, so neither should your event promotion ideas. Sit down with your staff or team, and brainstorm about different ways to reach the people who will likely be attending your event. Choose the best ones, preferably with individuals who will get you free press that will linger for several days, maximizing your exposure and helping you achieve a great headcount at your upcoming event.