Tip Sheet: The Essentials for Marketing Your Event

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on paid advertising to market your event. Through your social media, email, and community media you have what you need to run an effective and cheap marketing campaign. Just add creativity!

Tip #1: Use Your Social Media

A cheap and effective way to promote your event is on Facebook. It’s a common tool that is used, so adding creativity can help you stand out. By creating a Facebook event, you can post regular updates to build momentum and create a buzz in your community about your event.

To help build this momentum, share information on your event page about entertainment or an emcee you’ve booked, new sponsors who’ve signed on, a community influencer who is attending, door prizes or auction items, and more.

Posting photos along with text content is a must to keep social media users engaged. Post a photo of volunteers preparing for the event, people who plan to attend, the cause your event is supporting – be creative. You can take it to the next level and create a video about your event that’s fun, entertaining, and gives an emotional pitch about your event.

Tagging is a social media strategy that is two-fold and helps you connect with a broader audience. When you tag your sponsors, suppliers, and local media outlets, they receive a notification that they have been tagged (or mentioned), which almost guarantees that they see your content (and hopefully engage with it). Using hashtags is another strategy to reach people who may be outside of your regular followers and audience. Research key words that will connect you with an audience who might be interested in your event like youth or senior community groups. This increases your chance of being seen by people interested in the key words you’ve selected.

Another way to reach beyond your social media followers is by asking your volunteers and loyal supporters to share your social media content, including your event page.

They can also write their own social media posts, but if they do, ask them to tag and mention your account in their posts. That way, their friends and followers will be easily connected to your Facebook page – and may become a follower themselves!

Tip #2: Run an Email Marketing Campaign

Kick-off your email campaign with a “Save the Date” message and follow up with regular updates, much as you will for your social media.

Keep these messages short and engaging. If possible, embed any photos in the body of the email as opposed to as attachments.

Use teasers to drive traffic to your Facebook or website for more details (i.e. “Guess who just signed up for our event?”). Always include a link to purchase tickets or access information about sponsoring.

Remember when you use Facebook you are working to expand your audience. But your emails will be targeted to your contact list of donors and supporters so be careful about the timing of your messages. You don’t want to inundate people and risk them unsubscribing. Start your campaign about 6 weeks out and do one email a week. Closer to the event, in the last two weeks, you could step that up to two per week.

Tip #3: Get Earned Media

Send your local community newspapers an article about your event. Include a photo or video. Beyond the basic information about your event, be sure to include fun story lines perhaps about your theme, your planned décor, your volunteers. Most will print your article, and if they have a website, they may post your video.

Pitch an interview to your local media. For radio and TV try for a spot on their talk shows. These interviews are usually longer and give you the opportunity to talk more informally about different and fun elements of your event. Use an interesting angle about your event or the people involved to pique media interest. They get a lot of requests of this nature so think about how to make your event stand out.

In any media interview mention why you are holding the event, what will happen there, the date/time/place, your Facebook or website where people can get more details, and information on how to buy tickets.

Tip #4: Secure a Media Sponsor

Secure a media sponsor who is willing to print or air ads for free. Giving the media sponsor a profile role for their personalities to play at your event – as an emcee, auctioneer, or award presenter – will help secure their participation and ensure good coverage leading up to, at, and after your event.

Remember with all the requests media get for this it’s pretty competitive. Provide them with all the information they need to make a decision like how many people you estimate will attend, what’s the demographic, how much exposure will they get through your promotion of the event.

Tip #5: Print up Posters

It’s easy to print up attractive, nicely designed posters. Display them at public places and businesses in your community – the post office, community bulletin boards, banks, your sponsors.

Make them eye catching and easy to read with basic information about your event and a teaser that drives people to your Facebook or website for more details. Ask a designer or a design savvy colleague to create a banner or a consistent design element with your contact information that can be used across all your marketing materials. If you’re doing everything else right, these will re-enforce your other marketing elements.

Tip #6: After the party’s over

Always follow-up your event with reports about how it went. On social media you can use lots of photos or a video. Send photos and a story about the event to local media. It’s too late to buy tickets for this time, but people who attended will enjoy seeing the photos, you can keep the buzz going for a bit after the event, and people who missed all the fun will watch for your future events.