This post takes a look a both the strategy and the tactics for promoting local events: First I discuss some general conventions regarding promoting events, then I elaborate on specific tactics and tools. The goal of this post is to serve as a checklist for anyone that needs to promote a local event.
Who, What, When, Why?
Visualize what the final result of the event should look like, clarify the purpose of the event, then determine the actual tasks need to realize that vision. Remember that the actual tasks are secondary to the desired result. With that frame of mind you can maintain flexibility while keeping focused.
Use Google and the "websites where you can post your event" (listed below) to investigate events similar to yours. Google the titles of those events to determine what online marketing channels they used. Search through old emails to examine marketing copy used for other similar successful events.
Be careful of scheduling your event during the same time as an event that will potentially rob your market share. Understand what times are best for your target market. You may want to call a few of the potential attendees and ask their opinion.
In general you want to have four to eight weeks of lead time. To get a more accurate measure, using your research, find out when similar events that were successful started announcing their event.
Team up with organizations that cater to your market. Determine whose mailing lists your target market appears on. Look for partners that would also find value in your target market. Utilize your partners mailing lists, social media profiles and websites.
Tactics & Tools
Review the websites of successful events that are similar to yours. The registration process should be very easy. Be able to accept money in various ways, making it very convenient for your guests. Make it easy for people to recommend the event to others.
Tailor your web copy around the value you are providing to the target market. Paint a picture of how the attendee will walk away with much more value than the investment of money and time. Utilize testimonials if possible. Video testimonials are very powerful, or photos mixed in with testimonials.
The registration page should contain the who, what, when and why in a concise format. Think in terms of a 30 second elevator pitch. From the registration page, it should be very easy to register and invite friends. For further impact, you could list the current attendees, sponsors and speakers.
Get straight to the point. Include the who, what, when and why similar to how I describe for the registration page. Encourage the recipient to forward the invitation to friends who may interested. Frame the subject in a way that solves the recipients problem and encourages them to take action. Be wary of generic email blasts, keep it relevant.
Websites Where You Can Post Your Event
Search for local forums that serve the target market.
Check your local newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations websites for advertising opportunities or ask to be in their local calendar.
Check out your local chamber of commerce. In some cases they promote events on their websites or send out email blasts to their members.
Check your local newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations (try your local cable companies) for advertising opportunities.
Are there similar events where you can piggyback?
Send out a press release, and if its in the budget hire a local PR firm that has proven results locally.