As a Marketing Director who has had the privilege of working with a number of small business who plan, run and want to maximise events – across a range of audiences, including The Little Box Office, I wanted to share some of the key marketing learnings I have gathered over the years.
Event 101 - The planning and efforts you put into organising an event will be fruitful only if attendees turn up. So, my first piece of advice is that you should use the range of tactics available to you to promote your event in different ways and through different channels. It's wise to put in creativity and effort, especially if you aren't a well-established brand.
But where do you start? Below are some of the key tactics I believe are effective in raising awareness and driving ticket sales.
The delivery, pricing and timing of ticket releases is becoming a science and festival organisers are investing time and thought into how tickets are priced and launched for sale. A comprehensive understanding of the competition and festival-goer behaviour is essential and needs to be continuously monitored. The introduction of easy to purchase ticket sales, such as The Little Box Office, as well as reliable payment schemes and multiple limited offer releases over time can help boost sales. Any ticket release needs to be accompanied by a multi-channel marketing and PR push. Launching at the wrong time with the wrong price can severely impact on sales. Organisers who perfect this science are selling out quickly so it's worth investing time and effort on this aspect and choosing the right platform to use when selling your tickets.
The foremost requirement for your event marketing is creating your content. It should include details like what your event is about, who is performing, when and where it will be hosted, how much the ticket costs, and how attendees will benefit from attending it. This way, your content will offer value rather than seeming purely self-promotional.
Apart from this basic event info content, you can also create content for posts on your blog, content for your event's landing page, etc.; visual marketing content for social media; a press release for local media; and advertisements for ad platforms. Once you've come up with your content, you can broadcast it across different channels.
Email marketing is the most popular event marketing strategy for 70% of companies that regularly host events. You can start promoting your event through email two to three months before the event. Send out your official invitation to your email list building a picture of whats going to happen at your event. Include images from previous events, testimonials of people who have attended before, or maybe what people are looking forward to most as well as early bird ticket offers, merchandise options and more logistical elements on parking and how you might get to the event. Try and personalise the email too, we all like to receive something that's aimed at us.
Remember to remind. Send out regular reminders about the event, without overdoing. Write an email plan, including a timeline and brief details about what you intend to say to the audience and when. That way you can ensure you aren't being repetitive about the content you are sharing.
A large proportion of purchasing decisions are now made with an influencing driver. So, if possible and relevant, connect with someone who has become an influencer or someone with a strong presence in your niche on social media.
For instance, if you are running a small music festival, use the booked performers to share the event on their social, get them to do reels talking about the event or consider offering a special discount code to their followers. Build this approach into your plan to ensure you maximise coverage and exposure.
FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out” and it's a great approach to use in your marketing toolkit. Spark this feeling among your audience by using visual content to let them know that they will be 'missing out' if they don't participate in your event. It is the human tendency to get more involved or interested in something when they feel that they will miss out on something valuable if they don't.
You can also weave this into your marketing more subtly. Think about using a FOMO approach in your email subject lines, for example 'Don't miss out on the music festival of the summer in Wickham!' or via blog posts and social media campaigns as this kind of messaging piques the interest of the attendees and will help to drive your ticket sales up.
User-Generated Content (UGC) can take different forms such as reviews, testimonials, etc. provided by your past event’s attendees. Not only does this build social proof on how successful your previous events were, it also helps to spread the word about your forthcoming event, giving insight into what the event might be like, what people can expect and creating a real buzz about the upcoming events.
A great way to obtain UGC on social media is to create a hashtag and motivate users to employ it. Another suggestion is holding a competition where you announce free tickets by liking and sharing the post.
Social media platforms have technologies that enable you to choose audiences who have attended events like yours in the past. By using these technologies, you can target these people and serve them paid advertising showing your event and delivering your message right to them, encouraging them to attend.
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. Reach out to your list of current or previous attendees and request them to promote your event. You can do this through referral emails, forms and use incentives, such as exclusive discounts or perks, in exchange for them sharing content about your events.
Paid ads on Google, Facebook, and other platforms can widen your reach and drive the sales of tickets. Use remarketing paid ads as part of your approach too, as they are great at refreshing (or reminding) prospective participants about the upcoming event. Combine this with your FOMO approach by using messages such as “limited seats” or “limited time” within the ads.
As consumers, we all like ease. Using an online ticketing platform, such as The Little Box Office, you can make your attendees' pre-event journey as simple and as easy as possible. Not only that, you can offer multiple ticket options such as group tickets (encouraging people to bring others) or offer merchandise at the point of booking ticket, for example programmes or festival t-shirts.
Using a system like this also makes your life easier. And with all the other things on your to do list, we could all do with a little extra help!
Use promotional images, video, user-generated content, etc. across different channels to tell people that you have taken efforts to make the event a memorable, rewarding, and fun-filled one. Let them know that they will have a great time at your event. This will act just like a movie trailer to excite your audience and get them talking about it.
Taking time to consider how you will market your event is as important as planning for and conducting the event itself. Use the tools you have available to you and watch the results and analytics of each of the activities closely, that way you can test, measure and adjust your approach, continually honing and maximising your effort and budget to get the best results.
Sarah works as the fractional Marketing Director for The Little Box Office and has over 20 years marketing experience which spans the entire marketing spectrum, from strategy and planning to on and offline campaign delivery and digital marketing projects across a variety of sectors.