Once your event plans are in motion, it’s important to start promoting your event to help get the word out and get people (ideally) clamoring at your door to attend. If you have the budget, there are some amazing, eye-catching ways to promote your event. For the rest of us, event promotion can be an intimidatingly expensive item to fit into the budget.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of ways to do your event promotion for free. We’re adding to it all the time, so subscribe to stay up to date!
We all know that social media is a great way to get free (or pretty cheap) event marketing. Here are some ideas you can steal to market your event online:
Create official event accounts and a social media hashtag. Include them in event materials and watermark content with them.
- Tweet @ big-names in your industry, inviting them to the event.
- Do a giveaway! Ask people to share/retweet/comment on your post for the chance to win tickets.
- Offer ticket upgrades or special swag to future attendees, if they tweet or post about your event (using the official hashtag or tagging your accounts).
- Release ‘teaser’ behind-the-scenes images or content on a schedule, a few weeks before the event.
- Create email signature banners for employees and partners to use, inviting viewers to learn more about the event.
- Reach out to a few big-name attendees and ask them why they’re attending. Use their testimonials in your content.
- Ask event sponsors to share news of your event. Provide them with images or guidelines so they hit all the major points.
- Break out last year’s testimonials and start to circulate them on social.
- Encourage attendees to vote for potential sessions using Twitter or Facebook polls.
- Invite people to submit ideas for session, food, or entertainment options.
Using Your Stuff
Event promotion isn’t a wholly separate entity from the rest of your planning. You might have a separate budget for it—or you might not. That’s fine, because here are some ways you can use the stuff you’ve already budgeted for to promote your event:
Rally your coworkers to make an informal video talking about the behind-the-scenes of planning the event.
- Got famous speakers for your keynote? Ask them to post about the event. Provide materials to make sure they hit the key points!
- (Temporarily) open up your event app or content libraries, and invite people to take a sneak peek of the great content.
- During the taste test or menu consult, ask the caterer for permission to take photos and post them as sneak peeks.
- Use the conference swag samples as a promotional item. Offer it to as a prize to someone who shares information about your event.
- Use footage of the previous event to make a promotional piece for this one.
- Circulate photos about the venue, and information about things to do in the city your event will be at.
- Set up a pre-event game in your event app to encourage word of mouth and early engagement.
- Use some of your low-cost conference swag as scavenger hunt items. Place them around the city of the event, and invite people to find them.
- Send emails to attendees of previous events, inviting them to this one.
- Send emails to attendees of this event, inviting them to tell a friend. (Offer a discount if applicable).
- Write a business case letter about the benefits of going to the conference. Make it easily findable and downloadable.
- Contact a notable attendee from last year who left great feedback. Ask them to do a quick interview/podcast/case study.
Using Someone Else’s Stuff
Similar to how the calories from someone else’s fries don’t count (theoretically), here are some ways that you can do event promotion by leaning on resources of your partners or support organizations.
Invite a notable journalist, reviewer, or influencer in your field. Offer them admission in exchange for coverage.
- Ask the venue to put up promotional posters or standees.
- Ask hotel or restaurant partners to put up promotional posters or standees.
- Do a blog (or other content) trade with another organization.
- Advertise on free neighborhood or community listings.
- Borrow a storefront, sign, or art installation. Paper it in post-it notes with the (short) URL to an exciting landing page.
- Partner with local businesses and ask them to reach out to their followers.
- Partner with blogs or content aggregate sites in your industry. Do a podcast, blog or post promoting the event.
- Partner with the city council. Set up promotional displays in a public park or area.
- Ask staffers and speakers to take to LinkedIn to inform their network.
Don’t stress out about not having enough budget for event promotion. There’s plenty of ways to promote your event for free, whether online, using resources you already have, or sharing/borrowing resources from others.