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If you build it they will come. Right? Well, maybe not. While you may indeed have the best event ever planned, that does not necessarily mean that it’ll be well attended. If you don’t promote an event properly then you may as well not waste the time that it takes to plan it.
During my career, I have attended many events that I consider to be top-notch. Only to be surprised by the lack of attendance. It seems, unfortunately, that many meeting and event planners do not give as much time to promoting an event as they do organizing an event. And as I stated above, that simply just a waste of your time. If you’re going to host an event it’s crucial that you take the necessary time to understand how promote it effectively.
Of course, if you want to promote an event with little or no cost, then you really have to start down that road much earlier than when you’re planning the event. In a nutshell, every time you build contacts and every time you attend a networking event, in addition to learning valuable information you should always have a goal of adding more contacts to your list.
Ways to Promote an Event for Free
1) Social Media. Boy, I bet you never heard that one before. Social media, when used correctly, is a crucial networking tool for your business. But this is where taking the time to build connections and contacts will pay off. On twitter, research hashtags that you can use to target the right people for your event. On Google plus, I find communities and hangouts are an excellent way to have discussions for the topics related to your event. Adding video on your social media is another way of getting people’s attention. It’s important that regardless of which social media platform you’re using that you take people to the proper landing page (with easy-to-follow sign up and registration) so that they can get all of the information about your event in one stop. If people have to click more than two or three times, then chances are you’ve lost them.
There are free event registration sites to help you organize and promote an event.
2) Work Your Contacts. In addition to reaching out to your social media contacts, having an up-to-date contact list for e-mailing can be vital. And if you use an e-mail messaging platform, then you’re also going to get very valuable stats regarding your contact list. You might simply start with a generic invitation to your event. Then you could have a second message prepared and sent only to those people that clicked for more information from your first e-mail (I categorize these people as hot leads). You may also have a different message that you can send to those that only read your first e-mail (these people I categorize as warm leads). For those that did neither of the above (I call them cold leads) you may want to send another generic e-mail to see if you can get their attention a second time. The important thing with your contacts is to not destroy your relationship. If anyone ops out of your e-mails, respect that and do not continue contacting them. You’re not doing yourself any favors thinking that you’re going to change anyone’s mind. Basically the key with sending your contacts any messages is in the follow-up. If you have a planned follow-up strategy then you’re going to see much success. If you don’t, you’ll find your contact list shrinking.
3) Have a Call to Action. Okay, technically a call to action isn’t necessarily a freebie. But, if you’re working with suppliers and vendors on your event, reach out to them to see if they have anything which you can use to promote your event. Perhaps you’ve worked with hotels that could offer a free room to a lucky early-bird registrant. Having a call to action is another way of getting your contacts’ attention. And if that called action helps that person offset some of their cost for attending your event, then your call to action will probably get a lot of attention.