For some businesses, event marketing comes naturally. They have the resources to throw a bunch of money at 3rd parties and the promotions take care of themselves. They’ve done it before, they know the drill and they know it will work.
For the rest of us, event marketing is a timely endeavor and a risky use of precious time where the returns aren’t guaranteed. But who says event marketing has to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars? While we may not have the resources to hire fantastic speakers or offer discounts that will break the bank, we do have the ability to compete on a higher level. With a few tricks up our sleeves, we can reach our goals to generate interest and leads for weeks to come.
Believe it or not, you actually have the power at your fingertips to promote your event and follow through with a rich, lasting marketing campaign at no cost. Here’s how to promote an event for free.
1) Leverage your network – The term leverage may be beaten-to-death marketing cliché, but there’s a reason it’s said so much and it boils down to this- the people most likely to believe in you and come to your events are the people you already know and their friends. Make them aware of your event by posting status updates, website banners, email blasts and telling them about it in person. You want the bandwagon effect here. People are much more likely to show interest if their friends are involved.
2) Encourage RSVPs via social media – There are three main benefits to using social sign up services like Eventbrite. For one, they’re simple to use and they make it easy set up coupon codes, calendars, and guest lists. Secondly, they make your life easier because the transactions are taken care of, you only pay a percentage of the revenue, and you benefit from people finding your event in the search feature. Lastly, the social elements make it easy for someone to tell their friends and encourage a higher participation rate.
3) Share of the event through social channels – You know Facebook events and LinkedIn events are free right? You literally can’t lose here. On top of that, social notifications tend to multiply the bandwagon effect and you want the bandwagon effect. Why? Because when someone signs up for your rockin’ event, a notice will show up in their friends newsfeeds and pique their interests. Chances are, their friends are in similar markets and demographics and they are the people most likely to attend.
4) #Hashtags are your friends – If your event doesn’t have a hashtags associated with it- shame on you. Hashtags are a great way to build buzz around your event and connect the people who are signing up, at the event, and following up. Word to the wise- you’ll want to take a second to check Twitter before you pick a hashtag, to make sure no one else it using it. After that, claim your territory by tweeting it and adding it to all the other promotions. By notifying the attendees, in turn they will add the hashtag to their related tweets before, during and after the event. If you happen to be a social media jedi/guru/rockstar, you’ll want to interact with the tweeps throughout the event. At minimum though, you should keep an eye on who’s tweeting and make an effort to connect with them.
5) Live Blog the Event – If you’re a one man (or woman) show, this probably won’t be possible. But if you have a team, make sure someone is tweeting the good stuff in real time, using the hashtag of course- It’s a great way to draw more interest to your company. By sharing updates and nuggets of wisdom, you’ll earn retweets and exposure to the followers of the event and the attendees for free.
6) Record videos and share them afterwards – If you have speakers, this is a must. Granted they’ll have to be on board, but if they’re on board with marketing in the 21st century, this shouldn’t be a problem. A great video can garner thousands of views on youtube and provide wonderful follow-up content and leads for both parties. Free information? What a great way to give back to your industry. Who would have thought great free content is a lead generation tool?
7) While you’re at it, why not have a live video stream? If you really want viral attention, you’ll need people tweeting your event from around the world. While I doubt non-attendees would actively engage with a Twitter stream, they will engage with a live video and complement it with Twitter. But doesn’t that sound expensive? Well, it’s actually free with this neat little workaround using Google+ and Youtube. Stream the video live, save it for later and save a boatload of money on marketing.
Do you have your own tips for promoting events? Share them in the comments section below for brownie points.