Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day. (And the charity fundraisers, festivals, concerts, grand openings…) There are a lot of days and occasions to celebrate, but what’s a celebration without a crowd? We’ve assisted festivals and business owners with event planning for more years than we care to admit, and we’ve put together this list of event promotion tips that’ll help you get the word out about your next event.
Decide on a draw.
Everyone loves a party—that’s pretty obvious by Chicago’s booming festival season—but you need to give your audience a reason to come to your event. Decide what audience you want to bring in (i.e. younger kids, hip hop crowd, baby boomers, etc.). Contact an entertainment agent who can connect you with main stage entertainment that the target audience wants to see. For bigger events, ask about additional entertainers that complete the event atmosphere.
Start promoting well in advance.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start spreading the word about your event. Formulate a plan (on paper-it’s easier to consult and carry out) for promotion. For example, your plan could include passing out flyers at events that attract your target audience for a month and more intensive online and offline efforts in the two weeks before the event. If your event includes other vendors or partners, ask them to help spread the word to their followers.
Promote where your target audience is.
Every event is different, which is why you can’t use a one-size-fits-all promotion plan. Focus your promotion efforts in online and offline sites where your target audience hangs out. If you have built an e-mail or text list (with the users’ permission), utilize those tactics with personalized messages.
Don’t miss an in-store opportunity.
The best promotions are delivered in-person. Make sure your employees spread the word to every customer who comes through the door and checks out. If you are a retail location or restaurant, include flyers in every shopping bag or carry out order.
Compile images and videos for your next promotion.
On the days leading up to the event, post “teasers” to social media for this and future events. These “teasers” can be pictures or video showing the location and items that make your target audience want to come in. If your draw is an entertainer, ask them (or their agent) for promotional items you can give away (and that attendees want) as an early bird bonus (i.e. to the first 500 through the door) or in a contest. The entertainer may also be able to provide videos or photos that you can use to increase your attendance.
Don’t stop promoting just because your event is over. Thank attendees for their attendance with follow-up deals and social media posts. Ask them for their favorite pictures and video from the event. Keep the two-way conversation going with your attendees; they’ll appreciate your effort and may not think twice about coming back for your next event.