Planning an event can be stressful, but if attendance is strong you will look back and realize it was well worth the time and effort.
Here is the big question: how are you going to attract a large number of attendees without blowing through your event’s marketing budget?
You may believe that successfully marketing a large event has to cost an arm and a leg; nothing could be further from the truth. There are steps you can take to spread the word on a shoestring budget – or simply make your large budget go that much further!
Here are four marketing initiatives that don’t need to cost a lot of money:
1. Engage Press
Make a list of both local and industry-related press outlets whose readers may care about your event or topic. Publications are also always searching for content and press want to provide their audience valuable information. In simple language and short format, share with a publication why they should run your story.
Hint: don’t assume you’re too late! Publications often have space to fill and scramble for a story at the last minute.
Purchasing advertising space may not be ideal, but it is often times the best way to get in touch with your target audience.
2. Create an Email Campaign
Your client most likely has some contact information for a potential audience. If you are an event planner who specializes in an industry, you too may have a contact list of industry insiders. Use these lists to announce your event, remind potential attendees to “save the date” and ask them to spread the word. Break up your message and spread it over multiple emails, always including vital facts like the date.
Share your event’s most important facts in a straightforward manner, but get creative with font, graphics and images. Outside the cost of graphic design work, which you may be able to cover internally, and the small cost associated with email marketing programs, an email campaign can cost you more time than money.
Reminder: this is a campaign, not a single email, but don’t bombard your audience to the point they tune you out, or worse yet, resent you!
3. Use Social Media
In today’s world, social media is clearly one of the best ways to market any event on any budget.
Not only is this free, but it can be extremely effective. Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc…you will find yourself connecting with your audience in a very direct, personal and efficient manner.
Similar to an email campaign, a social media marketing campaign costs more time than money. It’s an investment in creative storytelling and constant communication. For efficiency you may consider using scheduling services such as HootSuite that allow you to pre-schedule most communication. That said you must be available to engage personally with those that take an active interest in your event.
Social sharing is vital in maximizing your investment in a social media marketing campaign.
4. Encourage Word-of-Mouth
Getting your message to go viral (at least among your audience) can be extremely time consuming, but it can also payoff big time! It doesn’t cost a single dime to reply to every tweet or re-tweet or Facebook question. It doesn’t cost you a single dollar to get on the phone, contact people in your network, and let them know about your event.
Your goal is to create a word-of-mouth chain, to get your true believers, your strongest supporters to spread the word for you. As you tell more people they will tell more people, and so on and so forth.
Reminder: social media is the ultimate power tool for generating peer-to-peer word-of-mouth marketing for any event planner – tight budget or not.
Rely on these four marketing strategies and you will be surprised at how successfully you promote your event on a shoestring budget.