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How to Promote a Local Event

This post takes a look a both the strategy and the tactics for promoting local events: First I discuss some general conventions regarding promoting events, then I elaborate on specific tactics and tools. The goal of this post is to serve as a checklist for anyone that needs to promote a local event.

Strategy

Who, What, When, Why?

Visualize what the final result of the event should look like, clarify the purpose of the event, then determine the actual tasks need to realize that vision. Remember that the actual tasks are secondary to the desired result. With that frame of mind you can maintain flexibility while keeping focused.

Research

Use Google and the “websites where you can post your event” (listed below) to investigate events similar to yours. Google the titles of those events to determine what online marketing channels they used. Search through old emails to examine marketing copy used for other similar successful events.

Timing

Be careful of scheduling your event during the same time as an event that will potentially rob your market share. Understand what times are best for your target market. You may want to call a few of the potential attendees and ask their opinion.

Lead Time

In general you want to have four to eight weeks of lead time. To get a more accurate measure, using your research, find out when similar events that were successful started announcing their event.

Partnerships

Team up with organizations that cater to your market. Determine whose mailing lists your target market appears on. Look for partners that would also find value in your target market. Utilize your partners mailing lists, social media profiles and websites.

Tactics & Tools

Website

Review the websites of successful events that are similar to yours. The registration process should be very easy. Be able to accept money in various ways, making it very convenient for your guests. Make it easy for people to recommend the event to others.

Tailor your web copy around the value you are providing to the target market. Paint a picture of how the attendee will walk away with much more value than the investment of money and time. Utilize testimonials if possible. Video testimonials are very powerful, or photos mixed in with testimonials.

Registration Page

The registration page should contain the who, what, when and why in a concise format. Think in terms of a 30 second elevator pitch. From the registration page, it should be very easy to register and invite friends. For further impact, you could list the current attendees, sponsors and speakers.

Email Blasts

Get straight to the point. Include the who, what, when and why similar to how I describe for the registration page. Encourage the recipient to forward the invitation to friends who may interested. Frame the subject in a way that solves the recipients problem and encourages them to take action. Be wary of generic email blasts, keep it relevant.

Websites Where You Can Post Your Event

Search for local forums that serve the target market.

Check your local newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations websites for advertising opportunities or ask to be in their local calendar.

Check out your local chamber of commerce. In some cases they promote events on their websites or send out email blasts to their members.

Offline Promotions

Check your local newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations (try your local cable companies) for advertising opportunities.

Are there similar events where you can piggyback?

Send out a press release, and if its in the budget hire a local PR firm that has proven results locally.

Where does your target market hang out? Be there.

Additional Resources

Have you delivered a successful event? What do you consider the key factors?

Comments

  1. An easy way to get volunteers is with T-Shirts. You would be amazed how people will step up and offer their time if they have something to prove that they did it. One event that I helped with for the March of Dimes used nice, inexpensive T-Shirts as "payment" to volunteers. It was their biggest turnout, both in volunteers and participants. The T-Shirts said something to the effect of "March of Dimes Volunteer – Paid with Love"

  2. This is very well written and quite comprehensive.
    The only thing I would add is, when you go hang out where your target market is, bring something to give them if it is within the budget.

    Whether an inexpensive postcard, or a cool promotional item related to the event itself, give them a reason to remember your event.

  3. I also like using eventbrite.com for my invitations. It helps guests add themselves to my mailing list and get future invitaitons.

  4. Wow, these are great tips! I recently had some success with an event but I didn't look at outside resources for advice on promoting it. I posted a blog about ten things I learned about promoting events on my blog: http://havananguyen.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/10-w

    I'll try out the partnership thing next time! Thanks!

  5. If your looking for a cheap way to promote or sell tickets online you should checkout the Facebook application Viral Events. http://www.viralevents.net. Viral Events does NOT charge a per ticket transaction fee for selling tickets like most companies and offers some nice tools for promoting your event from within Facebook.

  6. @Andrew Warner Eventbrite is an awesomely useful tool! The company I work for hosts various events throughout the year, and we use Eventbrite for all of them. Great features and capabilities!

  7. Shameless plug here, but we've got a new and growing events search engine at http://www.playster.org

    You can submit events directly into the index which link back to your site or blog.

    We're designed to help people gain exposure and traffic for events.

  8. This is a nice list, and I'd agree with some of the comments. If you're using Facebook or Twitter really stick to it. Build up an audience base. Twitter is great, because it's easy to use and easier to keep up with. Make sure you research and use hashtags! If businesses are looking to promote online, another site they might use is eventsnearhere.com. You can post free event ads there, and each ad gets a QR code that you could print out on flyers etc.

  9. Great list. Can't emphasize social media enough. There are great ways to specifically target audiences, so promoters are reaching people that actually care to hear about it.

  10. Try a new event promotions website http://www.thehappening.ca
    It's free to post as many events as you like. And all social networking tools are readily available in your event page!

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