With the availability of free resources online, there are countless ways to promote your event, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the most obvious things. Follow our tips to attracting guests and making your event a sparkling success.
#1. Create a dedicated event page on your website
Start by adding all the event details to your website for people to find out more about it. It doesn’t have to be pages long; just a succinct paragraph on what it will involve, who it’s aimed at and why it’ll be exciting, along with all the particulars like date, time and dress code, if applicable. You could post this as news item in your News or Blog section, or you could create a page specifically for the event – but you’ll need a link that people can click to for more information. You could also use an online platform like EventBrite, which lets you list full event details as well as seeing who’s signed up to attend.
#2. Contact your local press (but give them plenty of notice!)
Whether your local newspapers are daily or weekly, publishers can work weeks or even months in advance and if you let people know about your event the day before, it’ll almost certainly be too late. Aim to send out a succinct, punchy press release – and perhaps a personal invite (though bear in mind that press have very limited resources to attend events) – to the relevant journalists or editors, at least three weeks in advance.
Remember that for the event to be considered newsworthy, it’ll need an angle – such as raising vital funds for a charity or local initiative, or showcasing the work of local producers or artisans. If you’re struggling to gain interest from the newspaper, it may be worth taking out a small paid advert instead. Most newspapers have a weekly events listing too, so do check these out – and don’t forget to contact the radio stations that cover your area; breakfast and drive-time presenters have the market share of listeners, so email show hosts with an invite and ask them to give it a mention.
#3. Send personal invites by post or online
Assuming you’ve secured the relevant opt-ins and permissions required since GDPR came into force in May, you’ll already have a database of email addresses from past and present customers, or from people who’ve signed up to your newsletter online. If it’s a fairly small database, try to send personalised invites addressing them by name, rather than a generic ‘copy and paste’ template (though it’s fine to use this in the main body of your email). If your database is quite large, consider using a website like Mailchimp to email your invites for you. However, depending on the type of event, it’s sometimes nice to receive personal invitations in the post – especially if they’re labelled ‘VIP’!
#4. Make use of free online resources
A quick Google search of ‘events in Shropshire’ (or wherever you are) will reveal pages of free event listing sites you can make use of. This might sound obvious, but most people don’t fully maximise these websites. For example, when you’re submitting your event, be crafty with keywords – the words that search engines love – which will help to bring more traffic to your website. Keep track of all the sites you’ve posted your event on, and when people call or email to book you can ask them where they heard about your event; if you’re getting lots of enquiries through one particular website, you’ll know where to focus your efforts the next time you host something similar.
#5. Get social with tweets, comments and hashtags
Most people now realise – fortunately – that social media can be the most powerful and cost-effective way to reach potential visitors and customers, but rather than bombarding your Facebook page and Twitter feed with constant advertising, be a little more subtle and creative. Begin discussing your event weeks in advance, then start creating a real buzz as you count down the weeks.
Post pictures or short video clips to give people a taster – if you’ve run a similar event before, post pictures of last year’s event to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so that people know what to expect. If it’s a trade event, focus on LinkedIn. If it’s a consumer event, make use of groups and pages on Facebook, whether it’s a regional page or it’s for particular topics like weddings.
Finally, don’t forget to use hashtags! Take the time to search Twitter and see what hashtags your potential guests could be searching for; the ‘hour’ hashtags are online networking events listed as things like #herefordhour. And if you’re short on time or tend to forget to update your social media pages, use free online tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets or posts at chosen times.
Good luck and happy eventing!