Organizing a community event takes tenacity and resourcefulness, especially when it comes time to promote it. But while a few random social media posts might sell you some tickets, this haphazard approach won’t do your community event any favors over time.

So how should you approach promoting your event when your budget is small (or even nonexistent)? To find out, we asked community events expert Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid — a national community event series helps women to “rise up and get paid.” 

Here are her three tips for reaching the right audience and growing your community event.

#1: Plot your promotional activities

Modern marketing is complicated, which is why it’s important to document how you’ll promote your event and when. This will help you keep track of how often you’re sending emails out, posting to social media, and — more importantly — paying to advertise.

When and how often you plan to do each marketing activity will depend on your community event. But as an example, here’s a typical calendar for a Ladies Get Paid event:

  • 20-16 weeks before: Launch a “Save the Date” campaign to build buzz for the on-sale.
  • 14 weeks before: Kick off the on-sale with an email invitation to mailing lists and start organic promotions on social media.
  • 14-10 weeks before: Monitor sales every day. If losing momentum, consider paid social ads and display campaigns.
  • 4-6 weeks before: Pivot promotional copy to create urgency with a “time is running out” message across social media, paid ads, blog posts, and emails.
  • 1-5 days before: Send out “Last Call” emails to people who haven’t opened previous emails. Push out final “Last Chance” social media and blog posts.

You can base your own marketing calendar on this one and adjust as you collect more information on the needs of your event and its attendees. Looking for a more in-depth calender? Check out this one from the experts at ToneDen. 

#2: Add a personal touch to your emails

Most people are overwhelmed with advertisements and marketing messages these days, so it’s no surprise that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t as effective as a personalized one. This is especially true for email, where personalization can help deliver 6x higher transaction rates.

Here are three areas to use personalization to increase your event email performance:

  1. Subject lines and salutations: Personalizing a subject line with the recipient’s name or city can boost open rates by as much as 20%.
  2. Segmentation: Targeted, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than general ones, so be sure to segment your mailing list into subgroups (like repeat attendees, VIPs, etc.)
  3. Content: Segmentation only works if you deliver relevant content to recipients, so remember to use targeted discount codes, copy, and imagery for each subgroup.

Pro Tip: Discover five additional ways to give your emails a boost in Turn More Email Addresses into “Yeses.”

#3: Give your community the tools to promote for you

Your event community is a valuable part of your promotional strategy. All you need to do is help them help you. Here’s how to unlock the power of your supporters to get your event seen by more people and grow your ticket sales or registrations.

Nail your event description

You’ve spent the time and resources defining the purpose of your event. But can your community members faithfully articulate the value of attending your event? Give fans a clear, concise event description, so they can easily convince others to attend on your behalf.

Enable community members with a promotional toolkit

Take the effort you put into your description one step further by putting together a promotional toolkit and housing it on your website. This can include visual assets for people to share on social media, templated copy to use in posts, and links to your ticketing/registration page.

Empower your community with incentives

Last, but not least, you can increase the likelihood of your community’s network buying a ticket or registering for your event by giving fans a personalized discount code to share with their friends. Like UTM parameters, these codes let you see who is bringing in new members.

Pro Tip: Make sure to include UTM parameters (tags you add to the end of your URLs) on the links you share with community members. 

Help your community event grow and thrive

Building a relevant community event — and a supportive community around it — isn’t something you can accomplish overnight. But it’s definitely worth the effort. Discover more tips for success in Better Together: How to Build (and Maintain) a Strong, Thriving Event Community.