How Small Businesses Can Market Events with Low Budgets

Events are a great vehicle to drive leads, build brand awareness and establish thought leadership. Here are some smart and inexpensive ways to use various media channels to market your events.

Use newspaper space wisely

When you advertise in the newspaper, you reach everyone that reads it. That means you are paying for a lot of views from people who are not your target audience. Instead of spending money on ads, look for space in the calendars of events—both the online and the print editions. You’ll reach readers who want details on events and therefore are better prospects for yours. Listings are usually free or very inexpensive.

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Get featured by linking to human interest stories

Think of a local angle that would be interesting for the local newspaper to write about, such as human interest stories that connect your business with local customers or community service initiatives. Newspaper articles will get you a lot more mileage than stand-alone ads. Here is an example of a fashion event hosted by Joan Rivers and co-chaired by Fashion-Isha. The proceeds benefited of The Jewish Kidney Foundation and the Shirat Devorah Fund. People are motivated to buy tickets for events to support such good causes.

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Send email blasts to select audiences.

Be careful, as it is easy to get carried away and hit your audience too often. Send out email blasts sparingly. Take the time to ensure they are well-crafted and the messaging is customized to suit different audience profiles. Don’t forget to link to the event pages on your website where viewers can go and read all related details.

event email final

Different customers should have different frequencies for communications. If you find that open or click rates are lower for certain segments, then decrease the frequency when they tend to be inactive. You can do this by establishing a field in your database for engagement levels to monitor and understand responses to your email campaigns. Amazon uses event-triggered emails sent in response to someone browsing, searching or buying from them. You should also keep cleaning up your contact lists to avoid any crossover between them.

Use eye-catching flyers

Create simple but eye-catching flyers with headings and pictures. Be sure to only include the need-to-know info so it won’t be too cluttered. Print flyers on colorful paper and you won’t have to spend money on color printing. Post around town on bulletin boards or anywhere you think might reach your target audience, such as where pedestrians or cars stop. You can also put up signs directing people to your events. Sometimes beverage companies will donate free banners to help promote.

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Many shops will display your information in their windows if you are not direct competitors. Don't forget libraries, office noticeboards, cafes or Laundromats—basically anywhere people gather and there is a board or space for information.

Take advantage of free ad spots

Place ads on public television and cable community channels that will announce your events at no charge. Also consider community radio stations. With advance notice, they will often announce your event on air. Check out online events calendars that will allow you to post your events free. Most local councils produce very detailed bulletins telling residents what is happening and have sections on upcoming events. If you are well-organized and provide long enough lead times, you can get your events listed in publications that are delivered to all the homes in the area. Which other low budget marketing tactics have you used for your events?


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