Our Cunningly Good Guide to….Marketing a Small Event

When planning an event, it’s easy to get caught up in the practical details and organisation needed to make the event happen and leave the promotion to something you get around to later.  Often for smaller events, budgets simply don’t stretch to much in the way of printed material like posters and leaflets. However, every event needs an audience to be a success so we asked our event marketing specialists within team Volpa just what they would recommend by way of low cost or free ways to help get the word out to your potential audience. Here’s what they said:

Spend some time, at the very start of the event organisation process, focussing on who your audience is.

Even if you think your event has universal appeal and you want to invite ‘everyone’ – try and drill further down to:

  • WHO is going to make the decision to buy tickets?
  • WHERE are those decision makers going to be looking for ideas and inspiration for things to do?
  • WHAT information do you need to give them to convince them to come along?
  • WHEN do you need to get that information out there?
  • HOW will they get tickets and get in touch with questions?

If, for instance, your event is a family fun day, you might assume that mums, dads, grans, kids would all want to be there. It’s likely though, that Mum or Gran will be the person to see and act upon the information, rather than the kids. So start to think about where Mums and Grans would find out about an event like yours. That might be at the school gate, a poster in the supermarket, through the class teacher, from their friends, on Facebook, in the local paper etc. This gives you some ideas about the various ways you might promote your event and get it right in front of your target audience.

Try and get the DATE, TIME and VENUE of your event established as far in advance as possible.

Many of the online event listing sites only require basic information, so you can start the ball rolling and start promoting a ‘save the date’ even if the full details aren’t yet set in stone. 

One of the most comprehensive and popular event sites in Scotland is called The List www.thelist.co.uk. Anyone can create an account here and list an event. It takes about ten minutes to add an event online with some basic details and an image (don’t forget the image!). The best thing about The List is that because it is so well populated, lots of other magazines, newspapers and websites take their event information from here such as Visit Scotland, The Courier, etc.

Often your local authority will also have an event listing website which they use to promote the region to potential visitors. It’s worth seeking out your local listings sites and submitting an entry – you never know, if they like the sound of your event they might even feature in on their social media channels – and all for free!

One thing worth noting, is that listings websites and publications often need the information several months in advance. The List will not publish events with a short ‘lead in time’ so if your event is happening in less than two weeks’ time, it’s too late by then to make best use of this website.

Ideally, to make best use of the listings websites and publications below, you should aim to send out your basic information at least three months in advance.

Talk to your Local Newspapers

If you can think of a strong story that will help promote your event, you can try and approach the local press to cover it. If you feel confident writing a press release, then send in some information, and a good hi resolution image at least 3-4 weeks in advance.

You can also issue an invitation to the press to attend a photo opportunity on the day of your event, but these are obviously used after the event so won’t help you get bums on seats for this year. It can be handy if you’re planning to run the event again next year, though. If a press photographer is unavailable, then often you can send in a picture of your own for coverage after the event.

Don’t forget Facebook Events

As free as they come, if you create an event on Facebook, this allows you to invite your friends, and share the content easily with other local pages who may also publicise your event at no cost.