Whether producing a single event or a series of seminars to raise visibility with customers and prospects, we all need promotions to fill the room, and traditional promotional venues such as advertising can be costly. I’m going to assume that your topics, speakers, dates, registration fees (if any) and locations are on target. If you want to promote your events on a shoestring budget, consider these five tips:
1. Create a public relations campaign. Write an electronic news release promoting the event topics, speakers, and other details, along with who should attend and why. Include a registration and information link. Ensure that your news release format is in line with what editors expect. Send the news release to online and print business journals, newspapers, specialty publications, and radio and television stations with audiences who are likely to find your events of interest. Editors select material based on what they feel is most likely to serve their audiences, and this can result in free mentions. Invite members of the media who have an interest in your topics to attend your events at no charge.
2. Promote with social media. Boil your promotional message down to a headline, a sentence describing your event, and a registration link. Start by sharing your message on major social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Next, identify Meetup groups and LinkedIn discussion groups who are a good fit for your business and participate in the community. Share the news of your events only with groups who will value what you have to offer. If possible, provide a discount or special incentive for group members to attend your event. If you blog or are involved with a blogging community, share information about the event if the community would find it helpful. A professional registration platform, such as Eventbrite, can extend your social media outreach, but registrations will follow only if you create an invitation with a compelling message and graphics. Such invitation platforms also allow you to collect helpful information about attendees, including how they heard about the event and whether they would like specific issues addressed at the seminar.
3. Contact special interest groups. Identify associations, trade groups, special interest groups, political groups and other groups with an interest in your topic and speakers. Contact the leaders of the groups and ask them to notify their members about the events. If possible, offer a discount or special incentive for their members. As you identify special interest groups, consider joining those that are a great fit for your business. The easiest way to market your events is to ask those you already know and enjoy dealing with to help spread the word.
4. Secure media partners. Team up with other businesses or organizations to promote the event. Your partners can help get the word out to their networks and help draw attendees you would not have secured otherwise. In exchange, you can feature their logo, services, or products in your promotions or at the event, or you can simply help them get the word out on their own events.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of your personal network. An invitation to attend your event is a great reason to reach out to customers, prospects, referral sources, partners, and others you know. When you extend the invitation, usually via email or with a phone call, encourage your network to bring friends or to forward the invitation to others if they cannot make it. Ask your team to contact their personal networks. Ask your speakers to reach out to those they know. Personal outreach can be the most effective method for filling a room–believe it or not.
Surprisingly, many companies fail to use their existing promotional venues to promote their events. Post your events prominently on your company website. Include notices in ads that you are currently running. Share news of the events in your monthly electronic newsletter and when you attend business meetings. Hold events on a regular basis–your customers and prospects will grow to appreciate your commitment to sharing knowledge and opportunities.