Fair disclosure: Yes, this blog entry was inspired by today’s unique date, 11.11.11. And yes, it would have been easier to write in May of 2005.
On to the list. Just about anybody can use a few good tips for marketing an event or program. Start with these 11 – if you need more, come back on December 12 of next year.
1. Use the media
One of the media’s charges is to inform the public of what’s going on in the community, aside from car wrecks or Kardashians. A simple “who, what, when, why, how” media advisory should land your event in the outlet’s calendar section, and a press release (if appropriate) could result in an interview or article.
2. Give it front page real estate on your website
Most websites are pretty static. Two things typically add a little dynamics to a home page – news and events. Getting your event information teased on the home page shouldn’t be a difficult sell. Just be sure to give plenty of advance notice (unless you hold the keys to the content management system). Also, if you feature online registrations, make the “register” button highly visible.
3. E-mail it to your customer list
If you manage programs or events, you likely have compiled a database and use it to communicate with your customers. Use it again to promote your events. You might send out a special one-time announcement with links to event information/registration form on your website, or include the event information in an e-mail newsletter.
4. Promote it on your social media
If you’ve set up social media accounts, this is how you can actually use it to your organization’s advantage. Here are some tips for marketing your event on Facebook and Linked In.
5. Tease it at the end of any prior events you are holding
Captive audience – check. Existing customers – check. Opportunity to up-sell – check. Always, when appropriate, close your most recent events or programs with a reminder about your upcoming event.
6. Include the event details/web info in your e-mail signature
In most e-mail programs, you can create a signature – typically your name, title, contact information and company logo. Edit it a few weeks out (or whatever time frame makes sense) from your event to include a line about the upcoming event linked to your website details/registration.
7. Ask any partners/sponsors to co-promote
If you have a partner or sponsor, ask them to follow as many of these 11 steps themselves. If your event might benefit from a partner or sponsor, think about pursuing such a relationship as a means to double your promotional efforts.
8. Talk it up via word of mouth.
Not that everyone wants to hear you talk about your work all of the time, but it doesn’t hurt to share information about the upcoming event in conversations, especially with audiences that might be interested in your offering.
9. Blog about it.
Technically, this could fall within the social media above, but it’s big enough to deserve its own number. Not only does this platform give you a chance to promote the event, but it also invites feedback and improves search results. You can link to all sorts of topics related to your program/event, you can profile the presenter/speaker (if appropriate), and you can always link back to your event info/registration. Also, find relevant blogs, and where appropriate, post comments about your event in their comment sections.
10. Leverage speaking engagements.
This one isn’t quite as easy as the others because public speaking is usually near the top of the list of things that people fear. If it is any comfort, the speaking engagement doesn’t have to be the local morning show, it could be at a rotary club, chamber of commerce, etc. Pick what might be advantageous for your event, see if it would be of interest to the targeted group, and go from there.
11. Include a special offer or drawing.
If you have the resources to give away a 2012 Corvette to one lucky attendee, the other 10 items on this list probably won’t be that important. If not, a gift card, a free registration to your next event or something relevant to your subject matter (e.g., a book on the topic) might be that little extra that moves customers off the fence.
Time is about the only barrier to leveraging all of the above to market your event or program. So, get started as early as possible, and make sure the message is consistent throughout. As always, if you have some tips to share, post them below in the comments section.