You’ve put a lot of time, resources, and money into planning your event – now you have to make sure it’s well attended so that all of your hard work pays off. But when the bulk of your budget has gone toward event planning and staffing, it can leave little funds left for last-minute marketing.

The good news? You don’t need tons of money to design an effective marketing plan that makes your event a success. In fact, you don’t need any at all. Plenty of engaging marketing strategies are available – all at no cost. So, get creative and devise a customised marketing plan with our tips on how to promote an event for free.

Engage in word of mouth marketing

Want to create some buzz around your event? Word of mouth marketing can be a highly effective – not to mention free – strategy to generate interest in your event. While positive word of mouth reviews may occur naturally after your event, you can encourage community engagement and generate interest before your event has even taken place.

So, how do you get the word out? Distribute leaflets at other local events or hang posters on community bulletin boards. Engage with community organisations that include your target audience, sharing the details of your event. Use event discovery sites to post your event so local residents looking for something can add it to their calendars.

Try free email marketing

If you already have email subscribers, you can market your event via email at no cost. Design engaging emails that do more than simply invite your guests to the event – use them to communicate why your audience should attend your event and how they can benefit from it. For example, if you’re hosting a professional conference, you can identify the ways that the conference allows guests to invest in themselves, develop their skills, and build their professional network.

Like any comms, email marketing needs to be attractive. Colourful graphics catch your readers’ attention and encourage them to read on, but remember that content marketing for events is key. As your event approaches, consider sending emails highlighting different opportunities at the event, from keynote speeches to live performances or small group workshops. Don’t forget to personalise your emails as much as possible – people always appreciate a custom message.

Get creative with social media event marketing

Social media offers countless opportunities for marketing your event at no cost. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok allow you to reach a broad audience and build interest in your event. Consider these social media marketing strategies as your event approaches:

  • Event pages: Create event pages where people can get information about your event, stay informed with updates, and RSVP. One person’s simple click of “attending” or “interested” on the event page can populate their friends’ timelines, which can broaden your engagement.
  • Influencer engagement: Reach an even wider audience by working with influencers. Work out a cross-promotional deal with a personality whose following reaches a relevant audience. Give them free tickets to your event in exchange for a set number of promotional posts (but bear in mind that you might run into requests for cash instead).
  • Special guest takeover: Perhaps you have a headline performer, celebrity guest, or keynote speaker scheduled for your event. Give them control of one of your social media accounts for 24 hours in anticipation of the big day. They can also cross-promote these posts and stories on their own accounts to generate interest.

When using social media for event promotion, make sure you’re using the right platforms. If your event is for professionals, LinkedIn might be your best bet. Trying to engage with young people? Give TikTok a try. If you want to reach a big audience, Facebook or Instagram might be most effective. Don’t be afraid to mix and match social media marketing strategies by using different platforms to reach different audiences.

Plan ticket giveaways

Another way to effectively promote your event is by hosting ticket giveaways. In other words, offering up a few free tickets in exchange for free marketing. Extend your reach by hosting giveaways on several different platforms.

For example, you can first reach out to local media to host your ticket giveaway and promote your event. Provide a pair of tickets or even VIP passes to a local radio station. Social media can be a great platform, too. On your social media event page, share a post detailing the ticket giveaway. Challenge people to share the post or tag a friend in the comments to enter the contest. This strategy increases post engagement, drumming up interest in your event. Those who don’t win the giveaway might be motivated to buy tickets, too.

Designate event ambassadors

If you have a hefty marketing budget, brand ambassadors might be one of your potential online event promotion ideas. But even without money, you can create a successful event ambassador scheme to drive sales. Event ambassadors are people who are loyal to your event – perhaps they’ve attended several years in a row, or maybe they were the first ones to buy tickets or share your event on social media.

Reward these loyal attendees by designating them as event ambassadors. You can send them event merchandise, if you have some, or upgrade their tickets for free. In exchange, ask these ambassadors to share information about the event on their social media channels. They might not have the same following as influencers, but they can offer an authentic, relatable perspective and encourage their friends and family to consider buying tickets.

Utilise sponsors

If you have event sponsors, don’t be afraid to ask them for some free promotion. If they’re going to be at your event selling their product or promoting their service, they’ll want it to be well attended, too. So, encourage sponsors to share event details on social media and in email newsletters to customers. The benefits are shared here so they should be more than willing to cross-promote your upcoming event.

Layer your event marketing strategies

Mix and match these free marketing ideas for an effective strategy that drives interest in your event. When you do, you’ll create a buzz that can boost ticket sales and lead to repeat customers. Why not enhance your efforts with our Distribution Partners network? It’s an easy way to allow even more people to discover your event.

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