Top 28 Event Based Marketing Ideas the Pros Use

If you want your event to be a success, you must market it in creative ways to ensure that you get plenty of attendees in the door. Not only that, but you also want to be engaged with your customers before, during, and after the event in order to maintain the relationship. Finally, you want your event to stand out from the crowd and get people talking about your business. With our 28 event based marketing ideas, you will learn how to do all of this and more.

1. Promote Your Event With a Press Release

Want to get your event covered by local reporters, editors, and bloggers? eReleases will distribute your press release to major media outlets, including the Associated Press and PR Newswire. They also send your press release to thousands of hand-selected journalists in your industry. 

Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business

2. Consider Joint Marketing Events

In terms of marketing events, I’ve found the best bang for your buck comes from joint marketing events and a very low-cost way to do this is to do a joint marketing brunch. Team up with 2-3 similar but non-competing businesses that sell to the same customer base as you. This way, they invite their customers and each company gets to reach a new audience. Each company will give a presentation/demo or something similar (depending on your business). Do not sell. Teach. This is important. No one wants to be sold to, but if you prove you’re the expert, they’ll gladly buy from you. Serve brunch, mingle/network, and share the contact lists between your allied companies.

Example: a fashion boutique could do a runway show with other local boutiques. Or, they could team up with a hair salon and make-up artist and teach about current style trends, hairstyles, and make-up tutorials. Or, an accounting firm could team up with an insurance agency and a wealth manager to teach local business owners ways to save money on taxes, how to negate risks of lawsuits and ensure proper coverage, and how to properly save for retirement as SMB.

Paul Chittenden, President, Bad Ass Work Gear

3. Stay Up to Date with the New Rules of Event Marketing

New trends in event marketing are taking advantage of the accessibility of new technologies, such as GPS and real-time tracking, virtual reality and/or 3D experiences, and integrating social media into the event to create exclusivity.

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Inc.

4. Work with Local Influencers

In the past when I’ve worked with small businesses who have an important event coming up, we invited local community social media influencers. This can be accomplished by sending the influencer a private message on social media or an email that acknowledges (and flatters) the influence they have in your city or your industry and invite them and a plus one to the event (with free admission if applicable), stating that you’re only asking them to come and if they have a great time you’d appreciate they shared their experience on social media. This is an easy way for businesses to reach people outside of their usual audience, especially if the business isn’t active on social media, and it also can boost attendance to the event and future events.

One of the small businesses I executed a campaign like this for had their event hashtag trending on Twitter in their city and trending in Canada. Afterward, they noticed an influx of new followers and foot traffic from people in their target audience. Choosing the right influencers is key.

Beverley Theresa, Social Media Strategist, Social Media With Beverley Theresa

5. Use a CRM to Maintain Contact With Attendees

Looking for ways to keep track of event attendees and turn them into sales? Use Freshworks CRM, a CRM with easy-to-use tools, to store relevant contact information for event attendees so that you can easily reach out and follow up. You can email and call directly from its platform, and automatically set reminders and schedule appointments when follow-up action is required. Freshworks CRM even gauges who’s exhibiting buying behaviors and is likely to buy again, so that you can be more efficient in turning interested attendees into actual customers

Troyauna Williams-Boyd, Fit Small Business

6. Do Facebook Livestreams

While there are so many components to marketing a successful event, I have found that the 2 most powerful are Email Marketing and Facebook Live Streams. I have example after example that I could share, but just this week I did a 15 minute Facebook live to talk to our audience about our January training programs, then promoted it with about $20 to expand our reach. That night alone we had $700 in new registrations, new followers on our social platforms, a dozen new subscribers to our email list, and new members to our private Facebook group. Powerful stuff!

Bobbi Baehne, President, Think Big Go Local, Inc.

7. Work with Local Radio Show Hosts

Radio has proven to be a timeless avenue for events. We’ve successfully advertised events virtually for free utilizing local radio show hosts. Companies rarely utilize it for events because of the price; however, getting cheap or free advertising is relatively simple. Finding stations that appeal to your target market and then contacting the producer or the show hosts themselves will give you the ability to leverage the event with their business.

A lot of local show hosts run businesses and actually pay for their air time; you can often get them to promote your event for free by making their business a sponsor of it. You are trading advertising, they help get it packed, and then you help gain their legitimacy from potential customers.

Mackay Barr, Owner, Timberline Inspections LLC

8. Create Landing Pages for Your Event

There’s no better way to create a sense of urgency than to send prospects to a persuasive event landing page. It’s where you’ll tell people exactly why they should come to your event and what they’ll get from attending. In one of his articles, Mark shares the elements that make a landing page successful with examples.

Mark John Hiemstra, Writer & Content Marketer, Unbounce

9. Create a Trailer Invitation

The carrot is in the details. If you dangle the carrot they will come. Every detail you plan is essential for a successful event, from the venue, experience, layout, etc. Now dangle it, book a socialite that will bring crowds. Between his/her list and social media – it will be a hit. Create a trailer invite that’s edgy and smart that you can post on YouTube and social media. Make it great – the better the content, the more views you will have. This will also create anticipation for your event. You could also send a piece of the product as part of your invite to lure your guests to attend and receive the full product. Engaging your attendees right away with curated content they receive before the event and take home creates a buzz and a memory when executed well.

Once you lure your attendees, give them a great engaging experience and content they can take away like a small tip or tangible gifts like a photo with your product or service message. And post away.

AJ Williams, Event Influencer, AJ Williams Events

10. Hire an Expert to Improve Your Digital Marketing

Improve your event marketing with Hibu. As a full-service digital solutions provider, Hibu offers social campaign creation, management, and monitoring, and can even run social advertising campaigns for you to help you promote your event online. 

11. Use Local Libraries for Event Marketing

We have for the past several months been using local libraries to run our workshops. Local libraries have their own networks they use to market upcoming events. Our marketing costs are therefore zero because the libraries advertise to their networks and also run schedules in local newspapers. Our attendance has been between ten and fifteen people and this can vary depending on the size of the facility and the size of the library’s contact list.

Jack Shinn, President, J Shinn & Associates

12. Know Where You Add Value to Get Sponsored

When you’re hosting a trade conference, there’s a good chance that, in order to be profitable, you will have to get sponsors involved in your event. However, in many cases, that’s significantly easier said than done. Research him online, Kelvin will show you the best practices for getting companies to sponsor your event.

Kelvin Newman, EventMB

13. Send Emails with Enticing Subjects Such As “10 Things You’ll Miss If You Aren’t at this Event”

Email marketing is a great way to get attendees to sign up for your event. View Andy’s email marketing ideas plus tips about the event website, how to work with partners, and post-event follow-up.

Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studios

14. Create a Dedicated Website for Your Event

Before I sign up for an event, I like to visit the website to get a schedule, a list of speakers or exhibitors, venue details, and local accommodations. With Wix, you can create an event website using a drag-and-drop website builder with just a few clicks. Choose from dozens of beautiful design templates for all types of events. Wix offers a free basic plan and premier plans priced between $5-$25 per month.

Jeremy Marsan, Fit Small Business

15. Consider Wi-Fi Marketing

For those with a brick & mortar location that receives plenty of foot traffic from customers/potential event-goers, WiFi marketing is a great new way to improve both the marketing of your events as well as their overall quality! Store visitors opt into your WiFi marketing program in order to access your free WiFi. You then have the ability to send push notifications (as well as email & texts, in many cases) to users, track store visits, and more. Combined with a clever event marketing campaign, this system can allow you to increase event awareness, encourage ticket sales, encourage social sharing, and directly follow up with event attendees in order to survey them for feedback that will allow you to improve the overall quality of your events!

Casey Tibbs, Owner & Founder, Image Squared Marketing

16. Use Facebook Geomarketing

We use Facebook marketing to geographically target people who may be interested in your event using lead ads, or do one better and target existing customers of a business using the custom audience feature, and then narrow down by location. This shows a timely advertisement (videos work well here) to the relevant people, and we usually use short burst offers to incentivize attendance. For example, we’ve marketed an event before and said tickets are selling fast and had a direct link to a Typeform (free mobile-friendly survey) for people to register interest super fast. This costs us around £20 ($28) in total and the last attempt got 60 people to attend a local event. If we know where our ideal audience is hanging out, we also geotarget areas and filter by interests and job titles.

Hamzah Malik, Managing Director, Regent Branding

17. Promote Videos Showcasing Speakers and Sponsors

Content marketing is a great way to market your event. These ideas will help you increase signups before your event, amplify the excitement during your event, and repurpose event content after it’s over.

Eventifier Blog

18. Have Interactive Entertainment at Your Event

Adding some unique, personalized, interactive form of entertainment to an event can be both a draw to help increase attendance, as well as a terrific way to make the event more memorable and enjoyable for your customers. For example, my area of expertise is an interactive close-up sleight of hand magic, which I customize to the needs of each event. Magic has nearly universal appeal and adds a truly unforgettable element to most events. Depending upon the event budget, entertainers with some “celebrity brand recognition”, either locally or if possible nationally, can help enhance the event and add perceived value. Small music acts can also help set a tone and add some depth to the event.

With a little creativity, adding some unique entertainment to your event can literally make all the difference in how successful it will be as a function your customers will remember fondly and associate directly with your business.

Mitch Williams, Magician, Mitch Williams Magic Productions

19. Print Beautiful Signs and Posters for Your Event

One of the simplest ways to attract people to your event is with eye-catching flyers and posters. You can post these at strategic locations and even create unique posters at your event to give attendees more information. Fiverr is filled with talented designers who can design your event signage starting at just $5.

Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business

20. Attract Event Goers with Disappearing Content

One great way to highlight an event is to invest in disappearing content. A Snapchat lens or geo-filter is a great way to get people talking about and sharing your event details with others. If you’re holding an open house, attending or hosting a conference, or throwing a grand-opening celebration, a geo-filter is a great, inexpensive way to promote your brand. It’s also something that not many other companies are capitalizing on right now, which immediately differentiates your event from others. Stand out by disappearing may sound like bad advice – but not in this case!

Justin Kerby, Founder, Cave Social

21. Be Proactive with Can’t-Miss Creative

When we were looking to generate buzz and awareness about the premiere of an opera about Snow White on campus in 2016, we wanted to come up with promotions that would be impossible for our students to ignore but that wouldn’t be seen as invasive or annoying. One idea we came up with was to have one of the actresses from the production play Snow White laying “asleep” on a decorated table for several hours in the main campus walkway. Curious students walking by couldn’t miss her as they passed, and many picked up fliers with information about the show as they did so.

In addition to being a great place/guerilla marketing technique, the initiative allowed us to take photos and videos that were later used on our social media channels to promote the show. The strategy worked, helping the college draw an audience well above our average attendance for a spring musical on campus.

Simon A. Thalmann, Digital Marketing Manager, Kellogg Community College

22. Wear a Costume to Stand Out from the Crowd

I attended Dublin’s Web Summit a few years ago and when I realized that over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men), I decided to stand out by wearing Angel Wings throughout the conference. I’d even scattered rose petals from the end of the aisle I was in that led up to my booth. Of course, everyone followed them and found me in my gear. When I was checking out of my hotel to head back to NYC, I looked down at Judy Dench on the cover of the Irish Times, and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my Angel Wings— inside there was another 1/4 page picture mentioning my business).

Lori Cheek, Founder, and CEO, Cheek’d

23. Attract Attention with Live Trivia

It’s more popular with guests than ever. That’s no secret. But there are secrets to attracting a crowd that will stay engaged with your brand. Putting on a live trivia event is a great way to create a highly energetic atmosphere where competition and spirits run high, and it’s easy with these three tips:

Crystal Hopkins, Social Community Manager, Buzztime
  • Prizes: great prizes draw crowds. Get creative with your prizing and make sure you are promoting what your attendees have the chance to win ahead of your event.
  • Questions: partner with a trivia system company rather than Googling for hours. Trivia systems provide you with relevant and accurate questions/answers, taking the work off your hands. Bonus: if you plan on running multiple live trivia events in the future, question banks are constantly updated and accessible on-demand.
  • Host: Go in-house! Who is your most charismatic employee that can get attendees riled up? Using them, you’ll build a personal bond between your guests and your own staff, which will keep them coming back to your business again and again!

24. Define the Goals and Objectives for Your Event Marketing

It’s a good idea to do big-picture planning, but just make sure you are sharing this information with every part of your team.

25. Organize Free Ways to Promote Charity Events

When promoting a charity event, the goal is to minimize or even eliminate spending to ensure that the majority of funds raised go directly to the charity. Advertising can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to promote a charity event for free. Learn about all the ways to promote charity events that take only time, not money.

Joel Miller, AdMedia

26. Avoid Common Event Planning Mistakes

Events can be dogged by cost overruns, poor scheduling, and customer dissatisfaction due to a range of factors related to planning, communication, and resource allocation. One of their articles includes the five most common event planning mistakes, and ways smart event planners can avoid them.

The International Institute of Event Management

27. Learn How to Budget Like A Pro

Smart budgeting can leave you with extra cash for promotion. 

Joanne Egan, Event Juice

28. Find Out How to Make a Brand Event More Eco-Friendly

One-off experiential marketing events can produce a lot of waste if mindful choices aren’t made during the planning process. Reducing your event’s impact on the environment and adopting a green approach is possible and is expected more and more by Eco-friendly attendees. 

Robin Lickliter, HubSpot

The Bottom Line

Hope you enjoyed these event marketing ideas from the pros. Have you used a creative marketing strategy to promote your event?

Sofia Nikolaishvili
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