How can you get more event attendees without spending a fortune on advertising?
We hear from a lot of event producers who know how to plan amazing events, but they aren’t sure how to promote an event. They’re really two entirely different skills, and it takes some time to learn how to master both.
You don’t need a huge budget or a PhD in advertising to get more event attendees. Give your event planning a jump start with these 7 hacks.
1. Build excitement (early and often)
You can start building excitement for an event while you’re still in the planning process. Set up a simple landing page with a teaser about your event and an email opt-in form. This allows you to capture potential event attendees’ information while you have their attention. Then, you can remarket to them as your event approaches. Stay in touch consistently, and keep your fans posted on your progress and what kinds of things they can expect from your event.
It’s not enough just to put up a website and hope that the internet will find it. To make this work, you’ll need to drive traffic to your landing page. Start with a few event promotions on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; you can set any budget you like, and test different variables such as the audience or ad copy.
Once you figure out the right combination, you can increase your budget and reach more fans with a positive return on investment. This will help prevent you from having to scramble with a huge advertising push right before your event.
Want to learn more about social media promotions? Check out our three-part guide to social media for event promoters!
2. Raise the fun(ds)
Partner with local organizations, like a cub scout troop or junior league, to do a ticket fundraiser. Clubs and nonprofits always need new ways to raise money, and their membership body is filled with potential new customers for you.
Offer to donate a portion of each ticket sale to their organization, or for each ticket sold by one of their members. You can setup a unique promo code just for them (learn how to setup your first promo code here) to track the number of tickets their members sell.
You could even provide them with a unique referral link to share online, and track sales made through that link on your Passage admin dashboard (here’s how).
3. Give it away (the right way)
For new events, giving away a few free tickets can be a great strategy for boosting your attendance numbers. But it doesn’t help bring in ticket revenue – unless you do it right.
Instead of giving influencers or friends a pair of free tickets, offer them in odd numbers - even just a single free ticket. Giving someone just one ticket means that they’ll be more likely to invite a paying friend to join them at the event. If you choose to hand out multiple complimentary passes, try giving away three tickets instead of two or four. The odds are, the recipient will find a fourth person to attend as a paying guest.
Doing a partnership with a local club or interest group? Tell them you’ll let their members in free when they bring at least one paying guest with them. Offer a free ticket to anyone who refers five paying customers (either through their own unique promo code or referral link). You’re still giving free admission to influencers, but you’ll be doing it in a way that actually impacts your bottom line positively.
Another solid strategy is a buy-two-get-one-free deal. It’s an attractive offer to potential event attendees (you’re giving them something FREE afterall!). But here’s the secret: that third free ticket will - more often than not - result in the purchase of a fourth ticket. It’s still an extra sale for you.
4. Bundle up
Fellow local businesses can be one of your best sources of support for your event. The key is to offer them a benefit: don’t just ask for their help without adding value.
Are you opening right across the street from another attraction? Maybe you could each offer a combo pass which gives guests admission to both businesses. You’ll both benefit from each other’s customer base (and if you don’t have a customer base yet, be sure to tell them about all the advertising and promotions you’ll be doing to attract new people to your event).
Alternatively, you could make the same offer to local businesses as you did with clubs. Provide them with a unique promo code and offer to pay them a portion of each ticket sold with that code. To them, it’s free money! To you, it’s more customers!
Provide them with a stack of postcards offering guests who visit $5 off their ticket to your event with the promo code. If they hand out cards to every customer in the weeks leading up to your event you could see a nice boost in ticket sales.
5. Price it right
If you’re hosting a new event, figuring out the right price point for tickets can be a tricky business. You might feel like you’re just guessing what your customers will be willing to pay.
Look at similar events in your area - what are their ticket prices? If your event is one-of-a-kind or there are no local comparisons, look at ticket prices in similar markets around the country for best practices on price.
Some new events go the route of offering free admission, with the hopes that it will attract more people who will then spend money inside the event (on extras like food & drinks or merchandise). Who wouldn’t come to a FREE event?
Free can actually backfire, though, if customers mistakenly perceive that free means not worth their money. It also means that 100% of your revenue will come on the day of the event, which is risky. Instead of free access with a la carte purchases at the event, consider offering an all-access pass option as well as a lower-cost general admission with a la carte add-ons. This will help you earn ticket revenue in the weeks leading up to your event, which helps with cash flow and budgeting.
6. Be social
Want to tap into the social networks of your customers? Offer them a discounted ticket for sharing it!
For example, on your checkout page, offer $1 off the ticket price for sharing your event with their friends or followers on Facebook and Twitter. You might be surprised how many customers will happy blast a post that says, “I’m going to BaconFest this Saturday. Who’s coming with me?” with a link to your event, in exchange for a small discount. And you’ll get hundreds more eyeballs on your event.
Passage is one of the only ticketing platforms that offers real-time discounts for social media sharing. Customers are much more likely to share something if it gives them instant gratification: an immediate discount on THIS PURCHASE, not a future sale.
Read more about social discounts and how to set them up for your event here.
7. Be genuine
There’s nothing worse than a cheesy sales pitch. Modern consumers don’t want to be sold. But we do want to know about products and events that we might enjoy!
When you’re promoting your event, resist the urge to “sell” your customers. Instead, focus on telling your story: why are you really excited about this event? Why did you decide to produce it in the first place? Why would your best friend want to attend?
Making money is important, but hopefully you have a passion for the event aside from the profits you hope to gain. Let that side of you show instead of putting on your “sales” hat. You’ll come across as more credible to your fans, and will sell more tickets being genuine than with a canned sales pitch.
Armed with these 7 hacks to sell more tickets to your event, you’re on your way to your most successful event ever.
The next step is to set up your event ticketing with the only platform that supports social media discounts, bundled tickets, unlimited promo codes, and more features that help you get more people to attend your events. Schedule a demo to see how Passage can help with your event planning.