By Aditi Seshadri
Once you’ve organised your event, the next big worry on your plate – how do you get people to attend it?
Even if you don’t have celebrity endorsements or a big advertising budget, it is possible to use these simple but well-tested tips to make sure you get those numbers in.
1) Event page – auto response, agenda
The very first step to marketing your event is an event page or the event posting on your website. A clear, concise write-up describing the topic, time, venue, agenda, event fee, who should attend and a big ‘register now’ button.
2) Speaker photos and bios
Speakers draw crowds. Attendees want to know who’s speaking, what they’re speaking about, what their background is, what they’ve achieved. So put up photos of your speakers, the more the better, with their bios. These days, it’s simpler to share the person’s name and designation along with links to their LinkedIn profile or other social media networks.
3) Showcase and promote partners
A whole bunch of people and organisations come together to make a successful event. Apart from featuring logos of your sponsors and other partners on your website and event collateral, try other techniques to showcase and promote your partners – shout-outs on social media, a Twitter chat with them, a fun behind-the-scenes video with thank-yous for partners, etc. Make your partners part of your marketing blitz as well and they will amplify the work for you.
4) Email marketing
If you do events on a regular basis, work on growing your email database. This offers you a readymade audience that is already interested in your work and would like to know when you have events and activities planned. Your pre-event mail should have a simple relevant subject line like ‘India’s only NGO Summit on Dec 7-8’. It should clearly lay out the title/topic, date, venue, time, agenda, fee and offer a clear call to action for people to register. And make sure you send follow-up mails at regular intervals including just a few days before the event.
5) Invite media
There could be local journalists interested in your event, either to report on the themes or meet people there who could provide leads to other stories. Identify a list of people to invite, from local and national media, filtering for location and beats/areas of interest. Invite them personally to the event.
6) Press release
Your media invite should be accompanied by a crisp, clear press release that outlines your vision for the event, the topic and purpose, along with details of the speakers, agenda, venue, date and time.
7) Digital media partnership
Another innovative and cost-effective way to promote your event these days is to work out a digital media partnership with a relevant media platform. Every sector now has portals or blogs specialising in niche content, always on the lookout for new leads and stories. Work out a partnership where you offer them exclusive visibility, content, leads and speaker access while the portal, in turn, helps to promote your event.
8) Create a social media kit
Everybody is strapped for time. To make sure your partners or even all your staff spread the word about your event, make it really, really easy for them. Create a ‘kit’ with sample tweets and posts for various platforms, complete with hashtags and links, and a set of photographs that people can simply post online, without having to spend any time on it
Twitter is one of the best platforms to continue to get organic reach and engagement, so make sure you tweet often and regularly from start to finish – when registrations open, early-bird offers, speaker details, tag partners, thank sponsors.
10) Event hashtag
Create an event hashtag that’s short, (hopefully) catchy and (ideally) unique to your event. Make sure you use it in every single tweet and post
11) Find and tag influencers
Spend some time to identify key influencers in your field or relevant to your event – speakers, experts, entrepreneurs, writers, journalists. Tag them in posts or tweets or ask them to comment on issues or even simple requests to retweet or share your posts. It will amplify your marketing message and audience
12) Set up a Facebook event
A Facebook event is pretty much a default option, as essential as a website page or event page. Facebook has 1 billion active users – 195 million of them are in India, which has overtaken the US now – and it’s likely your potential attendees are on Facebook too. Tag speakers and sponsors, provide a detailed agenda, time, date, set the exact location. Where it’s trickier these days is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get organic reach on Facebook, so promote your event and run some ads; even spending under USD 10 (INR 200-500) goes a long way to get you some reach
13) Use Google adwords
Google has an option for non-profits where they can apply for a Google grants account and get $10,000 worth of ads free every month. In the long run, this will help boost Google results for your organisation. The other option is to pay and run Google ads for your event with keywords using the theme or location. For example: ‘Immunization talk Delhi’ or This will show up when people run searches to do with your sector.
14) Post on Google+
One billion people worldwide have gmail accounts while there are 300 million active Google+ accounts. Most importantly, Google+ is critical to SEO (search engine optimisation) on Google, plus, authors’ Google+ profiles are showing up next to search results results and improving clickthrough rates on listings. Even if you don’t see engagement on Google+ it will translate into higher organic search rankings. So, post regularly and strategically about your event
15) Guest posts
Original content continues to get the best response and engagement. It’s hard to produce content – especially if you are in a small team – because it takes time and thought, so one way of continuing to add to your content is getting guest posts from partners, sponsors, speakers etc. This way, they get a platform to showcase their work too.
16) Pictures and quotes during the event
During the event, tweet interesting (even controversial) quotes or nuggets of information, mention the person who said it and use the hashtag.
17) Promote hashtag right through the event
Speaking of hashtags, have your emcee or speakers regularly mention the hashtag to the audience asking them to tweet or post using it. Also, put the hashtag on all your event collaterals and project it on the screens during the breaks
18) Facebook Live
Experiment with Facebook Live. Facebook is pushing this feature and video content heavily now so stream your event to get more live viewers and hook people for next time. Make sure you have a steady data connection, are plugged into a good sound source and have a steady filming hand.
19) Event photos
Use your smartphone to take plenty of photographs of speakers and the audience and post them on twitter as and when activities are happening. Post on Facebook and the Facebook event soon after the event, preferably within a day.
20) Post-event email
Post the event, send an email summary with key messages, interesting quotes, photos and follow-up information on where people can sign-up for your newsletter or social media networks or any other call to action you may want to promote.
Need a strategy and execution plan to market your event? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aditi believes in the power of stories and work that helps those who need it the most, and that there is true inspiration where the two meet. Her areas of focus are brand and content strategy, storytelling for impact, media publicity, social media strategy and multimedia outreach, particularly in the context of the needs and goals of social sector organisations.