It’s the time of year when the Facebook News Feed explodes with community holiday and special events.
If you are event planning RIGHT NOW and not sure of how, where, and what to market, applying several of these ideas will quickly get the word out about your event!
While browsing the Facebook News Feed, one post caught my eye. An exceptionally talented artisan friend was lamenting the lack of foot traffic she experienced at a recent craft show, a feeling shared by other show participants.
“The success of an event is only as good as the advertisement of that event. It doesn’t matter if you are giving away gold bullion, if no one knows about the event what does it matter what is there.”
Having coordinated several non-profit events, I totally understand the frustrations both participants and organizers experience when attendance doesn’t meet expectations.
Show participants work for a minimum profit margin; spend hours creating their products, dollars buying supplies, and entry fees to rent venue space. When turnout is low, they find their reward is “tired feet and an aching back from setting up and tearing down.”
Organizers have their own challenges, working with shoestring budgets that need to cover a variety of production costs. Venue rental fees, advertising/marketing, equipment rental, food, and entertainment costs add up quickly.
Local events are frequently organized by volunteers, not event planning professionals. The good news for the non-professional event planning organizer: the same tools available to professional event planners are available to volunteers.
Whether you are a volunteer or novice event organizer you can WOW your participants and boost attendance by adding a few cost-effective event planning ideas!
Below are a few ways no-cost or low-cost resources helped me quickly and effectively “get the word out” about each event. I hope they give you additional advertising and promotional ideas that lead to a successful event.
COMMUNITY CALENDARS (Free)
Many communities offer free advertising calendars for local events.
Post to online community boards.
Check area newspapers and TV stations, these outlets frequently offer online bulletin boards.
Do you have a nearby Visitor & Convention Bureau? Check their website for an Event or Calendar tab. If permitted, include images of the venue, products offered, and participant profiles.
Check state resources. Some states provide online resources for vendors and for event listings. Pennsylvania’s resource PA Vendors lists events for both event planners and vendors. Event listings are free.
EVENT FLYERS (Free)
Craft an eye-catching flyer and take advantage of free bulletin boards around town.
Many community post offices, churches, local libraries, grocery stores, and coffee houses offer bulletin board space. The possibilities are endless.
Small businesses are wonderful advocates when advertising community events. Ask them if they have a designated space for local events, tack up your flyer!
Include event participants in getting the word out. Provide flyers to everyone who has a role in the event: vendors, caterer, entertainment, and venue. Ask them to post the flyer around their local area.
TEAM UP WITH YOUR VENUE (Free)
The first event I coordinated was with a local winery. We teamed up sharing event and venue information (good advertising for both of us) on the online calendars, local bulletin boards, Facebook Pages, and flyers. By collaborating and pooling our resources, we reached a much larger audience than if we had worked separately. The foot traffic through the venue and for our event was awesome!
Create a free website. Google offers free website space on Google Sites. Users have a choice to start with a blank template or browse the template gallery for ideas.
Select a domain name that represents the event or organization. The name you choose is appended to Google’s primary domain name and looks like this: https://sites.google.com/site/YourEventHere. Add this link to flyers and other advertising media.
Similar to a paid domain website, Google Sites offers flexibility with design, including menus, image uploads, and font choices.
SOCIAL MEDIA (Free)
Create a Facebook Page for the event. Facebook has made it simple to create Facebook pages that deliver your message and promote your event.
Use the Facebook event page as if it were a business page. Add a stunning cover image; fill in the fields with your event information. Make sure to insert the website link whether it is a paid or free domain URL.
Like a business page, build your event Page fan base. Invite friends, family, and event participants to “Like” the events page. Share event status updates, images of products, food, entertainment details or behind the scenes preparation.
If you’re lucky enough to have a small advertising budget, promote your event on Facebook. Paid advertising gives users options to target audience demographics by location, age, interests and more. For as little as $10 or $20 organizers can increase their Page reach to a larger market.
Choose how much you want to spend and where you want to promote your event: News Feed, Mobile devices, or Right-hand side of the feed. Events Ads can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch. As a page administrator, you will be able to review continual updates about the progress of your event AND have the insight to statistics when planning your next event!
Are you on Twitter? Instagram? Incorporate event posts, images, and videos across social media platforms.
If you’re a die-hard Pinterest user, create a special board just for your event. Use the Places feature to pinpoint the location. Include event specific keywords in your board description. Pins are searchable in search engines. So, Pin away! Remember to share your board link in status updates on other social channels.
Don’t forget hashtags! Brainstorm ideas with your committee and create an event hashtag; share it across all your media, including print marketing.
VIDEO (Free Version)
Be creative with your video ideas. Short on ideas? Highlight the venue, the flyer, participants and their products. Add some jazzy transitions to the video and text with information about your event.
Here’s a peek at a video I did for one of my fundraising events:
Event Planning is a tough job, no matter what size event. Plan strategically. Create fabulous images from the beginning of the event planning through teardown. Implement the technology and tools that are available to businesses and market the heck out of the event. A bit of ingenuity and time will help ensure your next event is spectacular!
Oh, and, a big mouth never hurts! Use WOM. 😀
Have you organized a local community event? What event planning tips would you add to help readers?