7 Effective Marketing Hacks For Events With A $0 Budget

/ marketing
Savannah McIntosh

We all want our events to stand out. Flashy stages, delicious vendors, and red carpet entrances may loom in the back of your mind, and you may imagine these grand marketing campaigns with high-budget ads and incredible video creatives. But what happens when reality isn't so ... perfect?

Sometimes, you have to be a baller on a budget. Here's the thing — you don't need a massive marketing budget to draw in attendees. In fact, you can convince and convert prospects without ever spending a dime.

Sound crazy? Here's 7 hacks that will help you steamroll your next event without losing a penny.

#1 Experiential Marketing

We're past those 2015 moments when experiential marketing was a "cutting-edge" event strategy. 77% of marketers now have budgets set aside specifically for experiential campaigns. 2019 is the year we're moving from positioning experiential marketing as a differentiator to using it as a necessity.

When people think of experiential marketing, they tend to imagine ultra-high-budget events like Red Bull's captivating rocket launch, Angry Bird's Space Needle launch, or the JetBlue's cool ice campaign. But you don't have to haul in a treasure chest to start participating in experiential marketing.

Photo by Marcel Heil on Unsplash

Pop-up events can be done on pennies, and there are plenty of marketers who leverage experiential campaigns without spending any additional resources. Sure! You'll need staff and a thinking hat. But you definitely don't need a budget.

From impromptu vendor taste tests to spontaneous branded shirt giveaways, there are plenty of options for event planners. Of course, you can also generate profit with pop-ups. Selling tickets beforehand is a great way to exclusivize the event.

#2 Promote Your Event on Facebook

One of the easiest ways to score tons of free event traffic is to simply create an event on Facebook. With 2.3 billion active users and 68% of ALL U.S. adults, Facebook is a goldmine for event planners. Here's the crazy thing — all of those people are spending an average of 58 minutes PER DAYon Facebook.

To tap into that juicy audience, you need to create your event on Facebook.

  1. Log into Facebook and click Events in the left-side menu of your news feed.
  2. Click Create Event
  3. Fill in your event info
  4. Click Create

It's that easy! But you're not done. Now you have to share that event. You can do that in 3 ways.

  1. Share your event via messenger/friend list
  2. Create posts about your event
  3. Create Facebook event ads (this isn't free)

Now, you're probably thinking, "ads are obviously the only way to get my event any attention, right?"

Get this; 700 million Facebook users view event pages every single month. That's 35 million people a day. There's plenty of people to go around. And with Facebook's recent trend towards Family & Friends, organic reach may actually create better results if you're willing to put the time into it.

#3 Use Event Discovery Sites

The internet is a digital landmine of event conversions waiting to happen, and Facebook isn't the only digital tool ready to blow up your ROI. There are websites that are specifically geared towards events where you can tap right into event-hungry prospects. Here's the best thing — they're free!

Sure. Some of them can have some pay-to-win features, but they aren't pay-to-play. From finding DJs to hosting events, there are "discovery websites" out there that can help you grow your event fast. Here are a few.

  1. Facebook Events (seriously!)
  2. Eventful
  3. Meetup
  4. Spotify (concerts tab)
  5. Google

Wait... did that last one say Google?

#4 Make it Easy for Google to Find Your Event

93% of all online experiences start on a search engine. And most of them aren't bought. Around 80% of users downright ignore paid Google ads. So winning on Google is possible on a shoestring budget.

Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

SEO is easy to talk about, but It's incredibly difficult to actually do. We won't spend a ton of time trying to talk you through this section. For starters, SEO is a dense subject. But there's also a ton of opinion floating around the internet — driven by Google's incredible algorithm ambiguity.

So, let's focus on sharing three resources that you should read that will help you dominate SEO.

If you've been on-the-fence when it comes to dedicating serious time and resources to SEO, don't wait. Take the leap. It's one of those things that people tell you to do over-and-over for a reason. It just works.

#5 Giveaway Contests

It’s time to become a big believer in leveraging your own tickets or products as a marketing tool. In other words, we think that tickets aren't only functional as a mode of exchange, but they can be used to enhance your marketing campaigns.

Tickets are valuable; they are the entryway into your event (a.k.a the experience you're selling). Giving them away can be a great way to create hype for your event and attract new market places. Again, this is shoestring budget material. Tickets can cost pennies apiece. You'll obviously lose out on a few ticket sales, but if you're having trouble bringing people in, giving away a few seats to your experience can help pack the rest of your event.

In today's digital-first ecosystem, social media is the best place to host giveaways. 62% of brands throw giveaways to increase brand awareness, 58% to increase engagement, and 64% to increase followers. In other words, giveaways bring in people who are willing to engage with you for a chance to win a ticket to your experience.

Which platform should you use?

.... all of them!

Most companies and event planners stick to one platform. But if you can get in people's faces in all of their digital spaces, you'll win more attendees.

How to host a giveaway:

  1. Know your goal, what you want to achieve from this giveaway.
  2. Determine your prize, what are you giving away?
  3. Create your giveaway ad/campaign. Make it fun and easy to participate in.
  4. How long will the promotion last?
  5. Don’t forget to include the guidelines and rules of the contest; when it ends, when the winners will be announced, what you have to do to enter the contest, etc.

#6 Sponsor Influencers

Influencers aren't free, right? Correct! But sponsors are. Sponsor influencers will actually pay you to talk about your event. That's right! You can ask your sponsors to drop in a few words about your event. It's a tit-for-tat scenario. You get more people at your events — which benefits both of you.

Most event planners drop this somewhere in their sponsorship packages/contracts. You can do the same for those attending your event. Keynote speakers and performers can also help spread the word of your event. Again, drop it in the contract and discuss it openly beforehand.

70% of Millennials are influenced by the recommendations of their peers and friends. And 40% of them feel that their favorite influencers understand them better than their family and friends. There's tangible power behind influencers and you don't have to pay to get them.

#7 Start Blogging

53% of marketers say that blogging is their #1 priority in today's digital economy. If you want to reach your audience on an effective medium, start blogging regularly. It will take a while to build up a following. For event planners, we typically don't see events leveraging blogs too often — especially if they aren't recurring.

Instead, event planners themselves should be starting blogs. Some of the top event planner influencers are doing an amazing job pulling in attendees to ALL of their events through a single blog post and shout out.

It's cheap, easy, and effective. Plus, brands with blogs get 67% more leads per month than those without blogs. Show readers you can offer resources to their problems to start gaining a following, then you can add some blogs on upcoming events to show this new market place.

If you’re relying on a zero budget for your next upcoming event, you will be okay! All it takes is a little creative marketing strategies and finding those loopholes that dodge extra charges that add to your expense report. Not every marketing strategy needs to be flashy and expensive. Today’s marketplace is evolving into a new generation that appreciates authenticity over commercial and high-budget ads. It’s time to get creative, evaluate your target market and do what works for them with the budget you have.

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