Event Marketing Plan

published on Sep 23, '16

Event Marketing Plan  

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You've Ordered the Keg ... Now What? Nailing Down Your Event Marketing Plan

You've got the venue. You've got the order in for the rented chairs and tables. You've arranged for a deejay. You're all set for your event, right? Well ... not exactly. If you haven't marketed the event properly, you might find yourself in the embarrassing situation of having 20 guests at a venue meant for 200. Before you start daydreaming about the success of your event, you need to put some work into event marketing. Take a look at this list of clever event promotion ideas to spread the word and get people excited about attending your big day.

Put Your Message Everywhere

Did you know that people have to see or hear something between six and 20 times before they remember it without effort? Since different people respond to different types of media, it's important to really put yourself and your event out there. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to talk about or advertise your event. Some possibilities might include:

  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. SEOPressor has some great advice on choosing the best platform for your needs.
  • Posters and bulletins: Place them at the library, the supermarket, area cafes or restaurants, and community centers. Check out Chron's tips on making these effective.
  • The press: Try to get a blurb placed in the newspaper, advertise in free publications that people pick up in community centers or libraries, look for relevant companies that might put out newsletters, and pay for advertising space. Mother Earth News has some ideas on how you might be able to get free advertising.

Take Advantage of Podcasting

Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. [Convince and Convert reports that 57 million Americans listen to podcasts; this is the same number of people who use Twitter, a popular microblogging site. If you can get yourself mentioned on a somewhat popular podcast, preferably one that speaks to the same demographic of people who would likely attend your event, this is a great addition to your event marketing plan.

How do you go about this? Contact relevant podcasters, and find out what it takes to sponsor a program or two in the weeks leading up to your event. If you have a lot to say and you think you'd be an asset to a particular show, you can even [pitch yourself as a podcast guest to really make an impact among the listening audience.

Give Out Something for Free

People love free stuff. In many cases, it doesn't matter what it is -- if it's free, it's a great deal and it attracts attention. You can use free merchandise as part of your event planning strategy, or you can use the lure of free stuff as a way to get people to attend your event. Here are some event marketing ideas:

  • Order pens, baseball caps, mugs, drink cozies or T-shirts advertising your event (include the name, the date, and a contact number or URL). Pass these out in the community several weeks before the event. You decide how much you want to spend, but even cheap pens or pencils can be very effective; you can leave them by the handful at local businesses, doctor's offices, post offices and anywhere else people might need to borrow (and perhaps keep) a pen. Have your staff wear the T-shirts or hats wherever they go. Drop off a mug filled with candy at area businesses. Grasshopper has a handful of great sources for these types of items.
  • Give away free tickets to your event. If the event is already free or very low-cost, hyping up the free tickets is an excellent way to spread the word without actually spending or losing any money. If the tickets are more expensive and you don't want to give out a lot, have people drop their business cards in a fishbowl for you to draw from, and give out a certain number that way. Not sure about pricing? The Event Manager Blog is a good resource for figuring out that perfect price point.
  • Advertise the free merchandise that all event participants will receive (or have a chance to win). You can give out tote bags filled with coupons, pens, a calendar or whatever else you can acquire for a low cost. If you have sponsors, see if you can get them to donate an item to raffle off in exchange for advertising.

Collaborate With Other Event Leaders

If you know that something else is going on the same weekend or week as your event, consider approaching the leaders of that event to find out whether you can advertise for each other and piggyback off of each other's marketing efforts. ReachLocal has some great advice on collaborating with local businesses.

If there's a time conflict, this won't work unless your events do not attract the same type of participant (for example, a scrapbooking convention is probably not very much competition for a golf getaway, but a couple might decide to split off for that weekend to attend the respective events. If one event takes place on Saturday and one on Sunday, however, there's no reason why you can't help each other out.

To help promote another event, just mention it or distribute flyers every time you do so for your own event, and ask that they do the same for you.

Brainstorm with your staff to come up with event promotion ideas in advance of your event to avoid the unfortunate situation of not attracting a large enough crowd. Also, consider using a service such as SceneSquid to keep track of your event marketing. You'll get some great ideas, and you'll be sure to hit the most relevant publications for maximum exposure. Your first event promotion is free, so you have nothing to lose!

Resources: The Financial Brand, Convince and Convert, Michelle L. Evans, SEOPressor, Chron.com, Mother Earth News, Grasshopper, Event Manager Blog, ReachLocal