So you’re planning a big event, but you don’t have a big budget to go with it? No problem! In today’s world, there are more free marketing opportunities available than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, paid marketing is great and can usually expose you to a whole new audience, but it is not the only option. Read on for the best free ways to market events!
Much of my background is in fundraising events, and this means that I’m experienced at working with minimal budgets and cutting costs wherever possible. I’ve found that you don’t necessarily need a large marketing budget to make an event successful, but you do need to focus on making sure information about your event lands in the hands of your target market. Here are my favourite free ways to build the buzz around my events!
Company and organization websites should always be updated with upcoming event information. Anyone who is browsing your website should be able to easily find the most up-to-date details about what you have going on. As an event planner, this might not always make sense, but whoever you are planning the event for should definitely be posting about it on their website.
Your email list will probably be your most targeted group of potential event guests. If you are planning the event for someone else, ask if they have an email list that they can send event information to. Anyone who has subscribed for emails related to the cause, company, or organization that your event is being put on by will probably be interested in knowing that it’s happening.
This is a pretty obvious free promotion option, but it can be very effective. On Facebook, try to post information about your event to relevant pages and groups. With Twitter and Instagram, make sure you are using hashtags that people in your area will be searching or browsing to find events and information about your area. Ensure any graphics you use to promote your event are clear and professional – this is easy to do on Pic Monkey or Canva!
Bonus Tidbit: If you have a little bit of money to spend on promotion, social media is probably the best way to reach the most people on the smallest, most controlled budget.
I will admit that this option isn’t completely free. You will likely need to spend a little money on the actual printing of the posters, but you can find all sorts of free places to put them up once you’ve done that! As I mentioned above, there is some great online software available to help you DIY your graphic design. As long as you keep it simple, this can be an easy way to cut costs.
Once you have the posters printed, distribute them to anyone who is working on the event, and find local businesses where your target market will hang out to put them up.
Write a release outlining all the details of your event and send out it to any media contacts you have. This might lead to some free press! If it’s a fit, you can also send this document out through your social media channels and try to generate some extra buzz this way.
Online Community Calendars
In my city, almost all of the TV and radio stations offer free online community calendars that outline event listings for the local area. Submitting your event there has the potential to put it in front of a large audience that likely visits that website each day. Search these out for your community and send in your event information if it qualifies for listing; you never know who might see it there.
In Canada, Kijiji is popular, and I believe that in the US people still use Craigslist. I’m sure there are many other online communities worldwide that are all about connecting people for various reasons in the local area. These can be a good place to post a free ad about your event! I know that Kijiji has a category specifically for this type of posting.
Be sure to distribute an electronic ad for your event out to every company or organization that has some sort of role in the event. If you are working with a charity, send them a few graphics and all the event details and ask if they can share with their contact lists and on social media. Same with sponsors, donors, vendors, venues, or even volunteers. Everyone that is involved with your event should have all the details available for sharing.
Take every opportunity to tell people what you are working on. If you are at a networking event, chat with people there and let them know about your upcoming project if they might be interested. Collect business cards and offer to send event details over that way so that they don’t forget or lose interest. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to be sales-y at all times, but I think the message here is not to forget to tell people about your event. Human to human contact is incredibly valuable, so make use of it when you can!
What did I miss? Let’s chat in the comments about your favourite free ways to market events! And do you want more awesome information like the stuff I shared in this post? Join my email list for access to event planning resources that you won’t find anywhere else: