How to Promote an Event the Right Way
According to the United Nations, 55 percent of the global population now lives in cities and that number is only expected to grow. By 2050, they expect 68 percent will live in cities, adding another 2.5 billion people to urban areas.
If you are an event promoter, what does that have to do with you? Because the bigger the city and the more residents and visitor that city welcomes, the greater the opportunity for event promoters to make money. Rural areas are not where concerts and live events typically go. It’s the big cities. And the bigger the city, the bigger the competition will be to get your event on your audience’s radar.
Take Austin, for instance. It’s the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World.” If you visit its event website, there are no fewer than 1,006 pages of events listed for a whopping 12,000+ options – and that’s just for a 30-day search. And Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country – ensuring the number of events will only increase.
Many medium-to-large cities are finding themselves in the same predicament. How to promote an event is getting more challenging. Promoters are having to pull out all the stops to get their event noticed. While there are likely hundreds of local promoters and many large, national promoters all working for the same attention, there are a few things indie event promoters can do to get a head start.
3 Ways to Promote an Event and Get Noticed
Know Your Audience
Perhaps the best thing an event promoter can do to promote an event is to understand their audience. Sending out email blasts, posting random social media ads or even distributing fliers isn’t going to cut it anymore. People see too much media already and another email in their Inbox isn’t going to get their attention.
Instead, learn who your audience really is and go where they go. You can do this by researching who follows and attends events like the one you’re trying to promote. Do a Google search to see if there are any groups or forums who discuss events similar to yours. Introduce yourself into that group and invite them to your event. You can even offer a special deal or begin a conversation to get people talking about your event.
Try looking at social media, too. Think about your event first. In the past, who typically purchases tickets to your events? Are they moms bringing kids? Older jazz lovers? Teens and college students who attend festivals? Classic car enthusiasts? Once you know your demographics and their broad interests, you can begin to hone in on the social sites they likely frequent. You want to be there.
Go to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to start. Find the pages of other similar events and read through the comments and discussions. Billetto recommends always getting the site’s permission to post information about your event on their site. This way, you can target your marketing to the people who you know have already expressed interest in similar events and do it without burning any bridges.
Beyond social, think about emails. Email has an average return on investment of 28.5 percent, compared to only 7 percent for direct mail. Add social sharing into your emails and you can expect to see as much as a 158 percent click-through rate. In fact, 72 percent of people say they prefer to receive promotional content through email than social media.
Anyone who has purchased a ticket to any of your other events or emailed you with inquiries about an event should be on your list. If you haven’t started a consistent email marketing campaign yet, you want to do that. You can send your subscribers and email lists newsletters of upcoming events in their area, promotional content and ticket sales reminders. You’d be surprised at how many of your attendees want to keep track of your events, particularly if they’ve already attended one where they had a good experience. Keep in mind, your email subscribers are 3x more likely to share your content via social media.
Provide Convenient Access
McKinsey says “Convenient access to a large variety of non-work pursuits” will be a major contributor to the success of the cities of the future. This means residents and visitors should be able to easily discover events of all kinds, purchase their tickets and attend the event.
Convenient access isn’t only providing good parking. It’s streamlining the entire process – from creating awareness of your event on the channels your audience most uses to making it simple to purchase tickets straight from your website and social media pages. The less friction between your event and your potential attendees, the greater the chance they’ll buy. Make it difficult and they’ll hesitate, potentially losing interest or finding other events to attend.
Many event promoters promote their event on their web pages and through email and include a widget with a “Purchase Tickets Now” link that allows them to purchase tickets directly from your website without leaving your site. This is an excellent way to create an easy path to purchase. You promote an event and then make it simple to leverage that interest you’ve generated into instant sales.
You want your events to be convenient for you, too. Even though you are looking at how to promote an event to your audience, you want to also make those ticket sales easy to track for you. Use an integrated event management software solution that connects your financials to your ticketing company so every time a person purchases a ticket, your financials are automatically updated in real time. This automation gives you insight into the status of your event and helps you control costs as you better understand your break-even.
Promoting an event isn’t what it used to be. If you want to get noticed, you need to make your event discoverable, not only on social media but Google as well. Google uses complicated and ever-changing algorithms that determine what content gets the highest ranking on the page. Of course, everyone wants their content to be at the top of a Google search results page, but it isn’t easy to accomplish, particularly because Google doesn’t make their formula public. They do tell us that they use around 200 ranking signals, likely not something most event promoters keep track of.
For each event you promote, you naturally have a keyword or phrase that can help you gain traction on Google. Say, for instance, you are promoting an indie festival called “Austin Indie Festival.” Your keyword phrase would be that same name. As you promote your event on various outlets, you want to create buzz around that phrase so people begin to search for it on social media and online.
Use that keyword phrase, even with a hashtag for even more potential recognition, every chance you get. If this is the one and only Austin Indie Festival and people begin searching for it, it will automatically rank at the top.
You don’t want to rely solely on the name of your event. Many people will forget the exact name of your event, so you want to think broader. You can use analytics tools to find what people are searching for in the genre of your event, but you can also think of how you would search if you didn’t know the actual name of the event. “Indie concerts Austin” might be a phrase you would come up with and that’s where you want to rank. Create content around your event using that keyword phrase. That could be a few blogs, website content, articles or even press releases. You can use that keyword phrase with the event name keyword phrase and any other keywords you think may be relevant.
There are many other ways to rank higher in Google, but keyword phrases can help, particularly if they are followed up with content around those keyword phrases. As Hubspot suggests, “the website that carries the most instances of a keyword doesn’t rank the highest for that keyword. Rather, it’s the website that best matches the intent behind that keyword.” Create content that not only mentions your keywords but provides detailed information about that keyword and you should see your ranking improve.
Event promoters may have a lot of competition in these big cities, but they also have the technology to help them get their events noticed more effectively. The reality is your competition is likely utilizing these and other strategies already. Jump on board so you can ensure you and your events aren’t left behind.