How to Market Your Next Event

You’ve picked a date, chosen the right venue, solidified your agenda, and now it’s time to sell those tickets! Bringing an event to life takes a lot of hard work and coordination, and you want it to be well attended. Planning is only half the battle; you need to ensure you have a well thought out marketing plan in place to promote ticket sales or confirmed RSVPs. We want your event to be as successful as possible whether it’s a charity ball, grand opening, or conference, so we’ve listed a number of different ways you can spread the word and fill your venue.

Before you start promotion, set a goal for how many attendees you’d like to have so you can track your progress. If your goal is to have 200 people show up at your door and your event is four months away, try aiming to sell 50 tickets per month, or tweak your monthly goal to something more inline with the specific needs of the event.

Online Event Listings

Start with a well-known site like Eventbrite. This is a great platform as many people use it as their go-to when they’re looking for upcoming events in their area that are of interest. Eventbrite is easy to use and let’s you input key information like your event name, description, location, and promo image. It also let’s you set different tickets prices which comes in handy when you’re running early bird specials or are offering VIP tickets.  

In addition to Eventbrite, look for other online public calendars in your area that allow you to submit event info they can publish on your behalf. To find calendars that are right for your event, start by searching for events in your area and see if the calendars you find accept outside submissions.

Social Media 

Social media is one of the best tools to promote your event. There are so many different ways to utilize platforms like Facebook and Instagram to spread the work, so we’ve broken them down into 5 different tips:

1. Create a Facebook event on your business page, Facebook group, or even on your personal account. Make the event public and kick things off by inviting people you think would have an interest in attending. If you’re using Eventbrite, you can easily share the event you’ve created on their platform to your Facebook page or on Twitter.

2. Design a series of promotional images using an easy-to-use tool like Canva, and share them periodically onyour key social media platforms. Each time you share a different image, pair it with a caption that gives your audience different information about the event. I.e. in one post highlight your guest speaker, and in another talk about what’s on the menu.

3. Partner with a brand or business whose target audience is aligned with yours, and plan a giveaway in which the winner will receive free tickets to your event, and anything else you decide to include in the prize. This is a great way to reach a wider audience and to get everyone more excited about your event.

4. Facebook or Instagram ads can be great for increasing ticket sales or RSVPs, but only when you know how to run them well and target the right people. If you’re unfamiliar with the best practices of social media ads, look up tips on how to use them effectively, or hire a social media manager who can create them for you.

5. Do a live video or series of Instagram stories that shares all of the details of the event – what it is and the event’s purpose, when and where it’s being hosted, who or what the entertainment is, how to register or RSVP – anything a potential guest would need to know. 

Email

Email marketing is alive and well, and can be a great way to get more bums in seats. If you have an email list, every couple of weeks you can send out information about your upcoming event. The first email can be a full rundown of what your event is and what guests can expect to get out of attending, and the ones after that can focus on different aspects of the event like sponsors, what’s going into the swag bags, and more.

Traditional Media

Online marketing isn’t the only way to spread the word. Yes, people still listen to the radio. Yes, people still watch cable in between binges on Netflix. Send a pitch to your local radio station or morning show and get ready for your 5 minutes of fame. Remember these news outlets see a lot of pitches come through their inbox, so be sure your subject line is something catchy, your email is short and to the point, and you touch on the most newsworthy aspects of your event. 

Direct Mail

We don’t know a single person who doesn’t check their mailbox regularly. Head to your nearest post office to see what the options are for sending direct mail to everyone in a certain neighbourhood, region, or even the entire country if you’re hosting something like a national conference. Once you’ve figured out costs and what areas you’re targeting, design postcards with your event details and send it off to hundreds or thousands of people!

Once you’ve decided on all the different ways you’re going to market your event, create a timeline so you know exactly which tools or tactics you’re going to use leading up to the big day.

Event Trends to Expect in 2019

It’s easy to predict visual trends you’ll being seeing at events this year like mirrors used as décor elements in outdoor spaces, doughnut walls and towers to replace traditional dessert displays, and food stations instead of 5-course meals. Those are all things that are going to make your event look gorgeous and will provide your guests with a fun experience, but the trends you’ll be seeing more of this year that we want to highlight are ones focused on authenticity, engagement, and focused interactions.  

Authenticity is a trend we’ve been seeing a lot of on social media, and this year it’s going to spill over into events. People are becoming less inspired by those whose lives seem picture perfect, and more inspired by people who open up about the struggles they’ve experienced that got them to where they are today. If you’re hosting a conference, instead of having it all take place in the same room, choose a venue that also has smaller spaces available for you to host guided breakout sessions. Your attendees can gather in the main room for opening remarks, the keynote speaker, and closing remarks, but the breakout sessions will serve as a great opportunity for the session leader(s) to speak more openly about their experiences and other topics related to the theme of the conference. Because it is a smaller group, attendees will also feel more comfortable to speak up and offer their own experiences, ideas, or overall feedback.

Engagement and hands-on experiences are things you’ll be seeing a lot more of this year, and they should be key components of your agenda. As inspiring as a guest speaker can be, attention spans are relatively short and long-winded speeches become hard for your guests to sit through whether it’s at a conference or a fundraiser. Instead of focusing on one speaker to hold everyone’s attention, consider putting a panel together of three or more people with different personalities and experiences to bring to the table. Watching and listening to a conversation between panelists is easier to hold your audience’s attention as the different personalities, opinions, tones of voice, and mannerisms will keep them on their toes and more interested in the topic. And of course, to make your audience part of the experience, make it a more open forum where they can ask questions to each of the panelists – another way to keep other audience members awake and alert.

Ancillary events are planned in support of and in conjunction with the main event you’re hosting, and are created to give your guests another opportunity to connect. Again, more focused interactions is something we’re going to be seeing a lot of in 2019, and you’re definitely going to want to jump on the bandwagon so you’re providing the best guest experience possible. If you’re hosting a multi-day conference, examples of ancillary events are welcome galas to gather attendees before the conference officially starts, evening outings at a lounge or restaurant for more casual interactions, or a goodbye brunch to provide one last opportunity for attendees to connect before everyone goes their separate ways. 

Authenticity, engagement, and focused interactions. Those are the three main trends we’ll be seeing this year and ones you want to start implementing for your next event. If you’re still stuck on how to hone in on and elevate your guest experience, leave us your questions in the comment box and we’ll give you a few extra tips tailored to the needs of your event. 

Getting Techy with Your Event

Now is a good a time as any for hosting events like conferences, galas, and panels. With technology right at your fingertips, there are so many accessible ways to elevate your guest experience and really take your event to the next level. 

One tech piece to include even before your event takes place is an app or software that allows you to create a digital floor plan for your venue. Social Tables is a program that allows you to customize the dimensions of your event space and even the type of flooring it has whether it’s carpet or hardwood floors. With it’s simple drag-and-drop feature, you place a number of different things on your floor plan from different styles of tables and chairs, staging, A/V equipment, and even smaller details like plants and other décor elements. Creating detailed floor plans is one of the many things Social Tables has to offer. It can be used as a one-stop-shop for things like finding the right venue, creating seating arrangements, calculating how much food you need to order per guest – you name it! 

Eventbrite is a great online tool that allows you to outline the details of your event, share them with potential guests, and have them RSVP or purchase tickets right within the site. In addition to making it easy for guests to find information on your event and purchase tickets, Eventbrite offers a streamlined check-in and registration process that comes in handy for ensuring the line is moving along quickly when guests show up at your event. Standing in line for a long time to get into your venue can put a damper on the guest experience right from the get-go. But with Eventbrite, guests who purchase tickets or RSVP are immediately sent an email with an e-ticket they can print or keep in their email to present at the door. They can also store their e-ticket in the Wallet app on their iPhone for easy access. Guests are also sent a QR code that can be quickly scanned by the team managing your check-in table, upon arrival.  

If you’re hosting a conference, using something like a live Twitter stream to share information and bring attendees together can really add an extra layer of value to your event. Create a hashtag unique to your event and encourage attendees to use it while tweeting about sessions they’re attending, things they’ve learned, or questions they might have for your team or guest speakers. Use a platform like HootFeed to bring it all together in a live stream that can be displayed on a TV or projector screen on stage or in a common area of the venue. This is a great way to display conversations and get attendees involved in different discussions. 

Any event where you have a panel or guest speaker, making time for a Q&A session is key. To side step the pressure of trying to spot which audience member had their hand up first, try using a platform like Slido. With Slido you can create a link your audience can use to submit questions to the speaker(s). Other members of the audience can view questions as they’re submitted, and vote on their favourites. The questions with the most votes will then pop up on your TV or projector screen, and your speaker(s) can go down the list and answer as many questions as time allows.

It’s amazing how much can be done with the click of a few buttons. There are so many platforms available to you that are easy to use, affordable, and even free in most cases! There are lot of things to think about when you’re planning an event, but remember to keep your guest experience top of mind. We’ve given you a few resources to get you started, but find the time to do a little extra research to find the platforms that work best for you and the goals of your event.