No matter how awesome your event, making sure people actually know about it, and getting them to buy tickets, is always the hardest part.
But ploughing your budget into conventional marketing and advertising doesn’t always yield the best ROI – a problem that might not be clear until it’s far too late.
So how can you make your marketing more effective and save your pennies in the process? Here are eight of the best tried-and-tested solutions.
1. Get Journalists on Side
You don’t necessarily have to place a pricey ad in a trade/B2B magazine or website. If your event is interesting and relevant, and if you have some compelling industry stats and areas you’ll be covering, this might well be a story in itself.
Contact journalists at relevant publications and talk them through why their readers might want to hear about it. Press releases are a good start, but you have to be smart: make sure you’re adding editorial value, not just marketing your event. Can you offer them an interview with a keynote speaker? Provide infographics or background research as context? Look at the situation from their perspective: what can you do that will make their job easier?
Of course, inviting the journalist to the event and offering them a complimentary press ticket will make pushing for coverage much easier, too!
2. Write Guest Posts
Positioning yourself as an expert in the field gets news of your event out there and encourages people to stump the price of a ticket. Approach relevant publications and blogs of thought leaders to see if they’d be open to you writing an in-depth opinion piece about a pressing issue in your sector.
Again, make sure that you’re providing genuine insights for readers, not just openly pushing your tickets.
3. Find Yourself Some Cheerleaders
Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful ways to draw people to your event. And the best way to get people talking on your behalf? Appeal to their ego (in a good way).
Everyone likes to feel important. Identify a small cohort of people that you’d really like to attend, or that are very influential in the field, and focus on building a rapport. Contact them personally, well ahead of time, and offer them cut-price, early bird tickets or VIP access.
Perhaps even ask for their input on the most important questions you should be focussing on at the event, for feedback on your line-up and so on. Not only will you get some great insights, by getting these people emotionally invested in what you’re doing, you’re practically guaranteed to get a mention in their newsfeeds or blogs, or to crop up in conversation with their peers.
4. Make the Most of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is where professionals hang out online, so it’s the best place to catch their attention. Writing great posts (see the advice on guest posts above), getting involved in discussions in industry-related groups, connecting with potential customers and posting updates on your profile will all help to get your event noticed.
5. Add It to Your Email Signature
This is such a simple step, but it’s a great way to advertise without looking pushy. Just add a single line and link to your email signature that directs the reader to your event website and you automatically remind all of your professional contacts about your event whenever you communicate with them, without saying a word.
6. Re-Post Last Year’s Pictures
Last year’s attendees are low-hanging fruit when it comes to ticket sales, so make sure they don’t slip through the net. Posting last year’s photos, videos, etc. on social networks and tagging the attendees that feature in them is a very effective way to catch their attention while giving this a personal touch. Plus, it helps you to reach their wider networks, too.
7. Use Your Speakers for Content Marketing
You already have your top-class speakers lined up, so make the most out of the relationship! Pre-event videos, podcasts, blog posts and the like that involve these people and draw on their expertise will help you start to generate a buzz around the event. Plus, because you’re also helping to promote your speakers, they are highly likely to share your efforts too, helping you to expand your reach.
8. Interview Exhibitors and Sponsors
This kills two birds with one stone. First, people who are thinking about coming to your event want to know what kinds of suppliers, partners or clients they’ll meet there, and they hardly have time to research everyone in the listings. Meanwhile, the companies who are paying to take part in your event are super-keen for exposure and ways to connect with attendees.
Taking the time to interview them in depth and share this content in your networks (and, of course, theirs) is a great way to meet both those needs. In fact, not only is it free, if you make this an optional extra of your exhibitor package, it could even end up providing an extra source of income, too.
What budget-friendly tactics do you use to market your events? Let us know in the comments section below!