Do you pour blood, sweat, and tears into planning phenomenal events, only to be disheartened by low attendance and engagement?
Do you obsess over getting your event promotion right, trying tactic after tactic, but never quite moving the needle?
We get it.
Event promotion is hard. Insanely hard. But it doesn’t have to be a stab in the dark.
This comprehensive guide arms you with 17 proven event promotion strategies used by the most successful brands and event marketers on the planet.
From leveraging social media to fueling word of mouth, maximizing partnerships to dazzling attendees on site, we’re breaking down the complete blueprint for event promotion dominion.
Follow this advice, and get ready to see registrations, buzz, and RSVPs spike.
Get Creative Event Promotion Ideas to Attract More Attendees
Use these time-tested tactics to improve attendance in your next event.
1. Leverage Social Media to Spread Awareness
Social media is one of the most powerful promotional channels available today.
With billions of active users across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more, social media allows you to instantly connect with highly targeted audiences.
Here are some of the most effective ways to leverage social media for event promotion:
- Create event pages and groups on Facebook to provide up-to-date information and allow attendees to connect. Share key details, featured speakers, scheduling, venue information, and use eye-catching visuals.
- Post announcements, reminders, teasers, and updates across your social platforms leading up to the event. Share posts multiple times across multiple platforms.
- Use relevant hashtags consistently so your event content is discoverable. Research hashtags used by your audience and consider creating a unique branded hashtag.
- Run paid social media promotions and ads to expand your reach beyond your existing followers. Target ads geographically, demographically, by interest, and more.
- Share live video and posts during the event to generate FOMO. Let virtual attendees experience aspects of the event.
- Leverage influencer marketing by having relevant influencers post and share event content with their followers. A single post can reach tens of thousands.
- Share user-generated event content like photos and testimonials to highlight engagement and excitement.
- Use social media analytics to identify your top performing content then recreate and repeat what resonates most with your audience.
The key is to be consistent, strategic, and engaging across social platforms in order to maximize awareness and drive registrations in the pre-event stage.
Then, leverage platforms to foster connections, engagement, and shared experiences during the event.
2. Secure Strategic Partnerships and Cross-Promotions
Partnering with relevant organizations, influencers, media outlets, vendors, and local businesses can take your event reach and credibility to the next level.
Explore creative cross-promotional opportunities to tap into new audiences, pool resources, and create win-win collaborative partnerships.
- Identify complementary yet non-competitive companies to cross-promote each other’s events and offerings. Co-hosting small elements can provide value for both events.
- Partner with local businesses to display signage, distribute flyers, host satellite events at their locations, or provide discounts for attendees. They gain more customers while you gain more buzz.
- Recruit relevant media outlets and publications to help promote and cover your event in exchange for media passes and sponsorships.
- Collaborate with vendors like hotels, transportation services, restaurants, and attractions to offer discounts or bundles helping you both attract more customers.
- Work with key influencers to promote and participate in your event in exchange for exposure, their own promotional table or speaking opportunity, and VIP treatment.
- Offer discounts for groups, companies, students, associations, and organizations in exchange for distribution and promotion to their own audiences.
The benefits are immense when you can tap into the audiences and resources of strategic promotional partners.
It exponentially expands your reach while lending more credibility.
3. Design Compelling Event Branding and Visuals
Your event’s visual branding makes a strong first impression on potential attendees.
From the logo and graphics to the venue decor, ensure branding is consistent, aligned with positioning, and visually engaging across channels and materials.
- Invest in a professionally designed logo and visual identity that represent your brand. Use consistently on websites, promotions, signage, presentations, and more.
- Develop sleek, attractive templates for communications, banners, presentations, signage, invitations, and other event collateral.
- Use compelling, high-quality photos and videos throughout your promotional channels and materials. Help attendees visualize and feel excited about the event experience.
- Create engaging graphics like announcements, teasers, and reminders to share across social media, email, websites, and more.
- Splash big, bold, vibrant event banners and signage throughout the venue so attendees feel immersed in the event experience.
- Use visuals like floor decals, signage, and decor elements to lead attendees through the event, point out key rooms and experiences, and make areas photo-friendly.
- Invest in event merch like t-shirts, water bottles, and swag that serve as walking advertisements for your event even after it concludes.
Your event’s visual identity makes a strong first impression and shapes the on-site experience.
A strategically designed, cohesive visual branding strategy pays dividends throughout the attendee journey.
4. Drive Registrations with Discounts and Special Perks
Getting attendees to take the leap and actually register is one of the biggest challenges of event promotion.
Make it irresistible to register early and often with enticing discounts, special perks, and VIP packages.
- Offer tiered early bird pricing to incentivize early registrations. Display countdown reminders to the price increase across channels.
- Provide special perks like swag, bonuses, or access only for early registrants to create urgency.
- Give group discounts for companies, associations, or organizations that purchase multiple spots to incentivize group sales.
- Create irresistible networking, learning, and entertainment bundled packages with upgraded seating, meals, exhibits, and more.
- Raffle off prizes like free admissions, premium packages, backstage access, merchandise, or cash cards for those who register early. Promote the prize and entry details across channels.
- For annual or repeating events, offer loyalty perks and discounts for returning attendees to reward them and encourage repeat engagement.
- Share limited-time flash sale codes offering deep discounts across marketing channels to spark a surge in registrations.
- Prevent no shows and late cancellations by making registration non-refundable or having a cut off cancellation date.
Getting that initial commitment via early and discounted pricing gives you crucial attendee numbers and revenue to plan with.
Reward early commitment while making late registration and access more difficult and expensive.
The right mix incentives and discounts will turbo boost sign ups.
5. Generate Buzz with Contests, Giveaways and Sweepstakes
Contests, giveaways and sweepstakes drive registrations while generating contagious buzz both online and throughout the community.
They also allow you to grow your contact list and collect user-generated content to share across channels during and after events.
- Run social media contests leading up to events, prompting users to tag friends, share posts, submit UGC using branded hashtags, subscribe, answer questions, etc. to earn prizes or entries.
- Partner with local businesses to run community scavenger hunts, trivia nights, pub crawls, and contests feeding excitement into your event. Offer prizes and keep your brand top of mind.
- Offer creative prizes like VIP access, exclusive merchandise, meals with speakers, front row seating, backstage tours, and upgraded packages to generate true excitement.
- Give prizes not only to winners but also to random giveaway participants by having contests, competitions, games, raffles, and free prize drawings on-site to create a fun buzz.
- Collect email addresses during contests and promotions to build your list for current and future marketing.
Contests, giveaways and sweepstakes drive tangible excitement, engagement, and registrations while allowing you to collect lead data and user-generated content to fuel your marketing efforts.
6. Expand Reach with Paid Advertising
While organic social media and word-of-mouth are hugely important, paid advertising gives you the power to reach highly targeted audiences at scale and drive registrations directly.
- Run paid social media promotions across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, targeting ads to your audience demographics, interests, location, and behaviors.
- Prioritize video ads, which garner high engagement. Share teasers, testimonials, and recaps.
- Use paid Google Ads to drive traffic to your registration page and target by keyword searches related to your event topic or audience.
- Run paid ads and sponsored content in niche publications, websites, newsletters, podcasts and radio stations your audience follows.
- Use paid ads on event listing sites and apps like Eventbrite to reach relevant audiences where they search for local happenings.
- Invest in billboards, posters, street banners, transit ads, and airport ads in the host city to buildAwareness as the date nears, especially for consumer events.
While paid ads require investment, the ability to laser target key demographics and place your message right in front of your perfect attendees at scale can provide huge returns by driving registrations.
7. Foster Engagement and Connections with Retargeting
Retargeting helps keep your brand and event top of mind by dynamically serving ads across channels to visitors after they’ve left your website.
Staying in front of high-intent website visitors boosts registrations.
- Implement pixels like the Facebook pixel on your website to track visitors and then serve ads to them off-site.
- Create custom audiences to exclude existing registrants and focus ads on those still on the fence about registering.
- Develop segments based on pages visited to tailor ads and offers to different visitor interests like pricing vs. programming vs location info.
- Make ads and offers progressively more valuable to anonymous site visitors after each exposure to incentivize desired actions like registrations.
- Use retargeting across social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn as well for broader reach and impact.
- Implement lead generation forms and live chat plugins so you can capture visitor data for email and text remarketing as well.
Retargeting helps you capitalize on high-intent website visitors through repeated brand exposure and tailored offers across channels after they leave your site.
The power of staying top of mind with website visitors can’t be overstated.
8. Incentivize Referrals with Rewards Programs
Referrals from registered attendees, partners, and influencers are one of the most credible and effective ways to promote events. Incentivize referrals with rewards programs.
- Offer discounts like 10-25% off for current attendees who refer new registrants.
- Provide $5-$20 cash incentives when their referral registers. Popular referral apps like NextBee make this seamless.
- Enter referrers into drawings for high-value prizes like free admissions, VIP upgrades, and more.
- Reward referral milestones with prizes and recognition like shoutouts, badges, and leaderboards.
- Offer tiered rewards so brand advocates are motivated to refer as many new attendees as possible.
Referrals convert at very high rates because of the built-in trust factor.
Reward your biggest fans and partners to unleash word-of-mouth promotion.
9. Build Hype with Event Hashtags
Branded hashtags help unify promotional efforts, conversations, engagement and event content.
- Create a short, memorable hashtag specifically for your event and use it consistently across platforms.
- Share the hashtag prominently in promotions, website, presentations, signage, swag and communications.
- Encourage attendees, sponsors, partners and influencers to use it when posting event-related content and messaging.
- Monitor the hashtag feed to see who is engaging, respond in real time, and share great event content using the tag.
- Display a live social media wall showcasing hashtag content on-site to fuel more organic shares.
- Continue promoting the hashtag after events to collect UGC, recaps, reactions and testimonials you can reshare.
Hashtags help brand and track all event-related messaging in one unified channel for broader visibility before, during and after events.
10. Collect User-Generated Content (UGC) to Showcase Excitement
User-generated content like photos, videos, testimonials and posts shared by attendees come across as far more authentic.
Collect UGC to showcase buzz and social proof as you promote.
- Share a branded hashtag, handle and geo-tag attendees can use to identify event content for easy aggregation.
- Incentivize shares by reposting content or awarding prizes for top contributors.
- Enable photo sharing instantly on-site through engaging photo stations, props, and sharing prompts around the venue.
- Feature UGC prominently across your website, event app, presentations, signage and social media channels.
- Obtain consent to reshare event content.
Seeing your own community naturally buzzing about an event is contagious.
Make it easy for them to spread the word organically on your behalf.
11. Stay Top of Mind with Email Marketing
Email marketing helps you engage your existing contacts before events while also growing your list with each new registration.
Use email to promote effectively across the event lifecycle.
- Send a series of emails announcing the event details, speaker lineup, special offers, and key information to drive registrations.
- Maintain excitement with email updates leading up to the event, recapping new program additions, special guests, entertainment, and agenda.
- Send email reminders for key deadlines like early bird rates, contest entries, hotel bookings, and registration confirmation.
- Follow up post-event to collect feedback, share content and recordings, and reconnect attendees to recap key takeaways.
- Segment messaging appropriately across various groups like past attendees, prospects, and niche groups within your mailing list for more relevance.
Email is one of the most cost effective ways to nurture relationships across the event journey, keeping your brand top of mind and driving conversions.
12. Let Influencers Be Your Brand Ambassadors
Influencers with active, engaged social followings can exponentially expand your event reach.
Identify relevant voices to partner with.
- Give influencers promotional codes to share with their audiences, rewarding them for sign-ups driven.
- Comp event tickets or rooms in exchange for posts promoting event participation and content.
- Ask them to post photos, videos, recaps and testimonials during and after the event.
- Invite them to host sessions, lead experiences or participate in unique ways.
- Give them a promotional booth space or special perks to incentivize partnership.
- Develop affiliate relationships to make ongoing partnership even more worthwhile.
Influencers act as voices of credibility.
Aligning your event with influencers who genuinely care about your industry and community pays dividends.
13. Create FOMO with Countdown Timers
Countdown timers help create urgency as important deadlines like early bird rates approach.
They also build eager anticipation as the event draw closers.
- Place countdown timers in highly visible locations like your website homepage, registration page, emails, ads and social media banners.
- Tie the timers to important calls-to-action and deadlines like early bird pricing, contest entry deadlines, giveaway entry close dates or the final registration date.
- Reinforce urgency in surrounding copy with language emphasizing limited time offers and expiring discounts.
Strategically placed countdown clocks subtly instill buyers with a fear of missing out on deals, perks and access if they don’t act quickly.
14. Bring the Event Experience to Life with Video
Video content gives attendees a vivid preview of what the event will be like. Develop videos that make attendees feel like they’re experiencing it.
- Create videos virtually walking through venue spaces, covering programming, and showcasing key sights and sounds attendees can expect.
- Conduct video interviews with past attendees, partners, and influencers sharing testimonials on the value and experience of the event.
- Develop recap and highlight videos from past years’ events to showcase the community, content, and memories.
- Share live video streams and Instagram live footages leading up to and during the event so virtual audiences can stay engaged.
Video’s ability to transport viewers into experiencing and envisioning your event is unparalleled.
Bring the event to life through their screens!
15. Offer Exclusive Previews and Perks
Give social followers and email subscribers exclusive sneak peeks, perks and previews to generate excitement and incentivize channel subscriptions.
- Share select speaker announcements, key visuals, venue images or schedule details as a “subscribers only exclusive.”
- Release special discount codes and flash sales only through your channels which are required at registration.
- Provide channel subscribers early access to registration, custom swag opportunities, or contest entry periods.
- Reward current subscribers with automatic contest entries, bonus gifts and referral links.
- Incentivize visitors to join your email or SMS list to gain access to subscriber-only content and sale alerts.
Exclusive channel perks make subscribers feel like VIPs with insider access.
Reward them for opting into your channels.
16. Maximize On-Site Engagement
Your promotion efforts don’t stop when attendees arrive.
Use on-site engagement tactics to create an unforgettable event experience that will have them promoting it after.
- Place photo stations, interactive displays, engaging activities, games, charging stations and unique seating arrangements throughout common areas to encourage networking and fun.
- Have roaming staff take professional photos and videos of attendees they can instantly share on social.
- Offer games, contests, giveaways, live entertainment and experiences unique to the event so it’s not just any ordinary conference, concert or convention.
- Set up selfie stations with fun signage, props and backgrounds related to the event that make share-worthy photos irresistible.
Memorable, interactive, photo-friendly experiences lead to more organic social engagement and promotion during and after your event.
17. Continue the Conversation with Post-Event Emails
Your event promotion doesn’t end when the doors close.
Promptly follow up with attendees post-event to recap highlights, collect feedback, share photos and videos, and keep your brand top of mind.
- Send a thank you email recapping event highlights and key takeaways. Include links to presentations, recordings and continuing education opportunities.
- Share professional photos from the event for attendees to enjoy and potentially share on social media.
- Send a feedback survey to capture testimonials, suggestions, and ratings while the experience is fresh. Offer incentives for participating.
- Reconnect attendees with each other by sharing lists of registered attendees and their contact info to help foster ongoing connections.
- Send periodic emails with relevant industry content, links to your blog, new videos, or recaps of key takeaways to re-engage attendees as an industry resource.
- Promote next year’s event dates and location, early bird specials, and plans in the works to start momentum and buzz.
Post-event email communication helps attendees reminisce about their positive experience while positioning your brand as an ongoing industry leader in their minds.
Event promotion takes immense creativity, strategy and tenacity.
But utilizing this mix of digital, in-person, partnership-driven tactics through every phase from pre-event buzz building to post-event nurturing and recaps will maximize your impact.
Remember that attendees go on a journey from initial awareness to registration and participation then to recollection and community building.
Use messaging and tactics tailored to where they are on this continuum, bringing them along the full experience journey from discovery to post-event relationship.
Also focus on showing the human side through user-generated content and videos.
Enable two-way social engagement through live Q&As, competitions andtakeovers.
And stay nimble, using data and feedback to iterate on your most successful tactics in future events.
The half battle of promotion is breaking through the noise to genuinely connect with your community and deliver real value.
The rest will organically follow.
Most importantly, remember that word of mouth starts with a memorable event experience.
While you certainly want to achieve attendance goals, hyper focus first on over-delivering value through incredible programming, networking, entertainment and community building.
Do that exceptionally well at your core, and attendees will proudly promote your event better than any ad or campaign ever could.
You’ve just uncovered a treasure trove of proven event promotion tactics.
But reading about ideas versus actually implementing them are two very different things.
Don’t keep your vision bottled up – it’s time to uncork success.
Let our team of experts at We & Goliath help catalyze your plans into reality.
With over 20 years driving impactful events for organizations worldwide, we’re uniquely equipped to combine smart strategy, beautiful design, and innovative tech to take your event to the next level.
The time for game-changing event success is now.
Reach out and lock in your personalized strategy session today, and get ready to achieve the event goals you’ve been dreaming about!