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Beginner’s guide to promoting an event: How to advertise an upcoming event

In this article, we cover off the basics of learning how to market an event successfully.

confetti flying in the air at a concert

Promotion can feel elusive to those new to the event planning world. And when phrases like ‘email marketing’, ‘custom audiences’ and ‘retargeted advertising’ start getting thrown into the mix – you can soon find yourself in a spin. 

Don’t worry, though. As they say – knowledge is power, and as soon as you start scrubbing up on your event marketing basics, you’ll find it’s easier than you think to get the word out, and the ticket sales rolling in.

In this article, we cover off the basics of learning how to market an event successfully. Let’s get started.

Research your audience 

Before you begin any kind of promotional activity, it’s crucial to get to know your audience. Even for smaller events, the cost of spending time, money and effort on advertising to people who just don’t care can damage your operation (not to mention your morale).

One recent study showed that 63% of consumers feel marketers are trying to sell them something they don’t need – which seems baffling in a time where advertising is more targeted than ever. But it’s all the more reason to get to know the people you think stand a good chance of buying your tickets. 

There are tons of resources online about how to carry out audience research. But as a starting point, ask yourself:

  • who your target audience is (age, location, gender)
  • how they behave (what actions do they take online? What events have they attended in the past?)
  • and why they’d be interested in your event (what is it about them that makes them a good match?).

a group of people looking at a large crowd

Get your basics set up – event listing, social media pages, and a hashtag

Now you know who you’re marketing to, it’s time to get some tangible event marketing basics set up. Create an event listing on your chosen event registration platform (head to our guide to selling tickets online for help with this).

Then decide which social media channels you're going to use, and get to work setting up the appropriate accounts/pages. 

Which channels you use will depend on your audience, so be sure to put some research into the key demographics of platform users (aka who uses Facebook, vs Instagram, vs Snapchat vs LinkedIn etc.). You should aim to use more than one platform in your marketing, but don’t be tempted to try and master promotion on all of them as it’ll unnecessarily drain you of time and resources.

Finally, give your event a short and snappy hashtag, then use is religiously across all future posts and marketing materials. 

Head to our articles on social media event marketing for more detailed advice:

a person using a laptop

Consider the materials you’ll need – logo, photography, copy

You might be able to knock together your marketing materials alone, or it might be better to hire some professionals to help you with this. Consider the fact you’ll need graphic design elements, like a logo or flyer designs. Then think about whether you’re confident writing catchy descriptions for your event – or if you should hire a copywriter to do this. 

It might also be worth hiring a professional photographer to take bespoke images for your event. If this isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of great stock image sites out there to support your marketing needs.

Sign up to a good email marketing platform

Emailing a contact list without putting some strategy behind what you send and when you send it is likely to end up being a waste of time. There are so many amazing and really affordable email marketing platforms out there today that it just makes sense to use one. Consider MailChimp, Email Octopus or GetResponse

Think about digital event promotion vs offline marketing

It’s undeniable that pretty much all event marketing efforts should involve a digital strategy. But it’s important not to forget about the value of offline promotional activity too. From flyering through to hosting a stall at someone else’s event, there and lots of ways to reach new audiences offline.

Think about what might resonate most with the people you’re trying to reach, and plan a marketing strategy that accommodates this – whether digital alone, or digital plus offline. Don’t forget to display your hashtag prominently on offline marketing materials too!

Discover where to post your event outside of the obvious channels

Alongside the usual social media channels and your official box office page, there are lots of other places you can post your event. Spotify lists events for example, which makes it easy for users to navigate to shows from their favourite artists.

Using event discovery sites like this is a relatively easy way to put your event in front of people who’ll be interested in it. 

a laptop on a table

Consider whether you want to pay to advertise your event

Thanks to social media advertising, it’s easier than ever to put some spend behind your marketing efforts – and you don’t have to have a degree in advertising to do so.

Facebook, for example, offers an incredibly robust advertising platform that gives you tons of options for the type of ads you want to run, as well how you target people with them. One great feature of social media advertising is the ability to ‘retarget’ people who’ve already expressed interest in your event, but haven’t yet bought a ticket. Targeting people who’ve already considered your event is one of the best ways to make your marketing more effective.

Even putting a small amount of budget towards paid advertising online can have a huge impact when it comes to ticket sales. 

Make it really easy for people to buy tickets

Finally, whatever marketing activities you undertake, it’s crucial to make the link between people seeing your ad (or social post, or Spotify listing etc.) and buying a ticket as seamless as possible.

There are tons of ways to do this – for example, if you’re using Ticket Tailor as your event registration platform, you can integrate with Facebook so that people can buy tickets to your event without leaving Facebook to do so. 

The less barriers there are to people making that sale, the better.

Event promotion doesn’t have to be overwhelming or panic-inducing. With a bit of forward thinking and, most importantly, some good old fashioned research, you’ll be well-armed to market your event without the stress. You never know – you might end up enjoying it, too. 

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