Marketing strategies to ensure your next event is a sell out

Tracy Steffensen

Planning an event is no easy endeavour, especially when it's your first time doing it. It involves many steps and tasks, from concept to promoting and delivering the event.

Given our challenging times today when people are mostly at home, the challenges are much more complicated. For example, how do you get people to come to your event? Or, how do you convince your stay-at-home audience that your online event is what they need now?

We will share some tips and tactics that will help you drive ticket sales to your next in-person or virtual event.

  1. Offer early bird discounts and sell tickets on a scarcity model. Offering discounts to early registrants or buyers is a common practice of brands for many years. Yes, it still works for any event. You can even offer more than one type of early bird pricing to encourage people to buy before the prices increase. However, this strategy works best if you can start promoting your event weeks ahead of the actual event. For this, you need to make sure that your target audience is constantly updated on the price change dates through social media updates and calendar reminders via email campaigns. This way, people can be prepared and are compelled to act before the price increases. On the other hand, if you started a little late in planning your event, early bird pricing is still something you should try. Just remember to add a date limit (e.g. a 5-day early bird promo) and highlight the distinct difference between an early bird and a regular ticket for it to work to your advantage. Additionally, offering tickets on scarcity or motivating your prospect attendees with the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is an effective strategy to get more people to register. The most popular events feel exclusive due to high demand, high ticket prices, and a rare experience.  
  1. Put your previous attendees on top of the list. Are you doing the event regularly (e.g. annually)? Your previous attendees should be the first to know about your upcoming event, even if you don’t have all the details hammered out yet. This is your reward to them. Your previous attendees may be your biggest supporters and are more likely to sign up for your event immediately. And, to show that you appreciate them, offer them a special discount for signing up early. You can even offer exclusive content or freebies to sweeten the deal. You can use an email marketing service like MailChimp to send a personalised email to them, or if the numbers are manageable, go ahead and message them via social media.
  1. Encourage your early registrants to share about your event. Whether it’s an in-person or virtual event, social media is always your lifeline. Combining the first two strategies we have mentioned so far and making it shareable in social media, you increase your chances of mounting a successful event by a considerable percentage. Third-party endorsements will always carry more weight with people and don’t forget the power of social proof. To make it easy for your early registrants to talk about your event, make sure to be ready with high resolution branded images, a succinct description of your event and even inclusive details that will make it easy for them to promote on your behalf.
  1. Promote your location as you promote your event. Did you know that an event’s location is something you can market as well? Keep this in mind when promoting your next in-person event. If you have managed to book an event in a prime location or within the range of exciting places, talk about it in your marketing campaigns. You’d be surprised to know that location plays a big role in enticing potential attendees to attend an event, even better if you can highlight safety and security, which are significant factors for people these days.
  1. Make enquiring and registering seamless for your potential attendees. There’s nothing worse than having vague, incomplete information about your event and a hard-to-reach support service. So before starting your marketing campaigns, test your calls-to-action if they are working the way they are designed. Check your copies. They must be consistent as they are compelling. Check them all in your social media accounts, website, email marketing campaigns, and so on. Be clear about when people can expect an answer from you if you are not immediately available. Also, be mindful of the amount of information you ask from registrants. Shorter forms generally require less work from users and logic suggests fewer form fields reduce friction. 
  1. Ask your speaker(s)  to promote your event or their session if it’s a multi-day event. Get as many people as to talk about your event. Encourage your event speaker(s) to share info about your event via social media, personal blogs/vlogs, and other platforms they are in. You may also get in touch with industry organisations to help you promote your event. This will help get your event in front of many more qualified people that you wouldn’t usually have access to. The same strategy could be used for your event sponsors.
  1. Invest a portion of your marketing budget for paid ads on social media. As much as we want you to save money for your other expenses, we still strongly recommend you spend on ads. This strategy always pays off, especially if you accurately target the right audience on the right platform. The cost for targeted ads is on pay-per-click (PCC) basis, so you will only be charged when people click on your ad, making it budget-friendly plus you can easily measure your campaign performance.
  1. Create a unique hashtag for your event. A hashtag can help encourage people to talk about you and your event on social media. It can be used by everyone involved in your event — from speakers to sponsors to actual attendees. You don’t need to come up with a lot. You only need one unique one that directly refers to your event (e.g. EventName2021) and a few generic ones to tap previously related events or topics (e.g. #workshop, #sydney, #event) to create a buzz. This strategy applies to all kinds of events.

When you are running out of time

You’ve been sitting on your plan far too long and later realised you only have a few months or weeks to execute your ideas. What do you do?

The best time frame to plan and promote an event is as early as possible. For certain types of events, lead times can be as short as 1-2 months. This is very tight and can only work if you have previously mounted similar events and is being handled by experts.  Major and more significant events need more time because of the volume and complexities of planning, promotion and coordination.

  • Check your staffing. Do you have enough to execute all that needs to be done? When you have enough, then divide and conquer! Assign tasks right away, set deadlines, and schedule meetings. 
  • Identify the media and marketing tactics that could deliver you results. Start promoting right away!
  • Seek the help of an experienced 3rd party marketing partner. To help you fast track everything, you need a more experienced person or team to help create a solid event marketing plan for you and take care of the major tasks. They can give you direction and expert suggestions that will ensure your goals are all met.

READ: How we helped a client mount an event in a short time frame

Marketing an event during this time is different than usual. It can be both easy and challenging. Easy because everything and everyone is online. All the tools you need are readily available as long as you know how to use them effectively. Moreover, being cooped up in homes for too long has made people always on the lookout for meaningful online events to attend. However, getting the right audience and enough sign ups is more challenging since many events are being promoted online. The big challenge is to cut through the noise and make your event stand out. 

We can help you sell out your next event. Contact us today for a free consultation



Also read: How to make an impact with your marketing budget.

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