5 Ways To Market Your Event on a Shoestring Budget

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You’ve spent all of your money on decorations, catering, lighting, staff, event management software, and all other aesthetics of your event, but now you are left with a shoestring budget for marketing. What do you?

Marketing doesn’t have to be an expensive venture, so long as you follow the right practices and engage the right outlets. The internet has leveled much of the marketing playing field due to social media, email, and professional networking websites to the point that anyone with an internet connection has the potential to reach millions of people without spending a dime.

Market Your Event

Here are five ways to reach those potential millions and market your event on a tiny budget.

1. Work Your Network

I gotta be honest: I hate networking events. As a humble introvert, there is nothing I hate more than the idea of obligatory conversations with people I hardly know for the purposes of marketing myself. I fumble at introducing myself and I have a terrible sense of shame when bragging about myself or what I do.

Typically my conversations end when I resort to my off-color sense of humor as a defense mechanism.

Market Your Event

That being said, networking is a fantastic way to get the word out for your events.

Building and working your network is fantastic way to spread news of your event through word of mouth. This is best accomplished by researching relevant groups and events through services such as MeetUp and LinkedIn. On one hand, MeetUp is perfect for finding in-person events that are relevant to your targeted interests and the interests of your particular event, while LinkedIn is built to exercise your digital network.

There are many other social media networks to explore. Facebook has countless groups dedicated to your relevant interests, Twitter has user and interest lists to follow, and Google+ (yes, that Google+) has tons of interest groups that are active to this day.

The best part is that working your network is often free, barring the potential costs of attending events.

2. Help A Reporter Out

It’s amazing how available information is today. Anything I need to know or anyone I need to talk to is available to me with the right tools and websites.

One of the best tools I have discovered has been the Help A Reporter Out (HARO) website. Instead of spending my time trolling the internet looking for a story or an expert looking to speak on a topic, I simply post my information request or submit my potential input on a story request all on one source.

Market Your Event

In regards to event marketers, HARO is a PR godsend. With HARO you can submit news about your event to the “sources” section in order for reporters to pick up on. With this tool you are able to spread the word about your event without hiring a professional public relations firm.

3. Write Guest Posts for Relevant Blogs

Personally, I like the idea of working my digital network rather than in-person, which allows me to stay in my shell rather than venture into the scary world of speaking to human beings.

Market Your Event

My favorite way to exercise my digital network is by establishing relationships with relevant bloggers within my sphere and pitching guest posts. Guest posts earn you and your event exposure, traffic to your website, and a solid relationship with influencers in the industry you hope to make waves in.

The benefits of guest posting include:

  • Establishing authority for you and your upcoming event
  • Building backlinks to your event page
  • Enticing new guests to attend

Tips for pitching guest posts:

  • Be strategic: Most bloggers aren’t looking for blatant advertisements on their sites. Your guest post must be relevant to their message while still getting in your plug. Perhaps write about a unique aspect about your event and how other event planners may benefit from adopting such practices.
  • Be sure to read and abide by all guest posting guidelines including link limits, visual requirements, metadata requests, etc.
  • Follow up with your pitch after a few days if you have not heard back. If their email inbox is anything like mine, it is sure to be full of new messages and requests every five minutes. This means that pitches will be lost in the mess on occasion and follow-ups provide a better chance of being noticed.

Psst: Capterra is always looking for people to guest post on our event blog. Check out our submission guidelines!

4. Email Lists

When I wrote for my own website, the hardest part about the entire ordeal was marketing my content. I don’t have the time to sit in front of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and every other social media outlet to post every single article at the right time. In order to ease the workload, I downloaded social media management software to schedule out timed posts on all channels. Thankfully, that eliminated the need to be at a keyboard at all hours.

The same technique worked for email marketing. No one has time to write emails and send them out individually to subscribers. Luckily there are free or inexpensive email marketing tools made just for that purpose.

Marketing School found that email marketing was ahead of other forms of marketing in terms of a return-on-investment. For every single dollar spent in email marketing, marketers see an average return of $40.56.

Market Your Event

Luckily email marketing won’t put a massive dent in your budget either. MailChimp offers free email marketing service to businesses with 2,000 subscribers or less. Once you pass that threshold, the price goes up in relation to the amount of subscribers you have. Unless you are marketing to tens of thousands of subscribers, the price never breaks $100 per month.

There are also a number of MailChimp alternatives if you’re not satisfied with their plan.

5. Host a Giveaway for Event Registrations

People love free stuff. Holding contests for event sign-ups is an easy and inexpensive way to encourage attendees to register as early as possible.

Market Your Event

Personally, I am far more likely to attend an event that is willing to reward my attendance with an exclusive offer. This contest comes in many different forms, such as a free drink or t-shirt for the first “X” amount of registrants or rewards for those who refer others to register and attend.

Marketing these contests on social media and email will lead to a viral marketing system that encourages sharing with friends. You like free stuff, I like free stuff, we all like free stuff!

Conclusion

Hopefully not all of your events will rely on a measly shoestring budget to get the word out, however things happen that are beyond our control and it is good to know that marketing won’t always break the bank.

Are there any tips that I missed or methods I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments below!

Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.

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