9 Ways to Market an Event in a Small Town

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Branding is so much more than logos. Every time a customer interacts with your business, they interact with your brand. This is true online and in print, but it’s also true in person—all the way down to the details of your events and how you get the word out.

When planning an event, you need to brand it just like you would your business. Give your customer a glimpse of what will happen, why they should go and what they’ll miss if they don’t.

The good news? Marketing an event doesn’t have to be scary. This nine-step process will help you think through all the details of getting the word out.

Every month, the Purveyor House team uses this process to coordinate Bakersfield Second Saturday, encouraging residents to spend the day on the town getting to know our amazing local businesses. We use social media to spread the word and create FOMO (Fear of Missing Out (in case you need that tip)) to make sure people know what they’ll miss out on if they don’t come.

In August, we used these ideas to promote our Be in Bakersfield event and sold out in one week—much to the disappointment of those who wanted to buy a ticket at the last minute.

So what’s the secret? How do you market an event, especially in [what feels like] a small-ish town like Bakersfield?

1. Define the goals of the event + how they impact your brand.

Before you can tell others why they should come to your event, you need to make sure you and your team understand why you want them there. Sit down and answer a few questions: What is this event about? How does it support your brand? Why should people come? Who are you hoping shows up?

2. Set a schedule + plan in advance.

In a small-ish town like Bakersfield, people often don’t come to events because they don’t know about them early enough. Make sure you share early and often. Share in unique ways. Let your community know about the event with plenty of time to get it on their schedule.

3. Design custom graphics.

All the visual elements of your event and event marketing should be consistent with your brand. Hire a designer or use a site like Canva. Make several different options so you aren’t sharing the same graphic over and over again. Have fun with it!

4. Show up in the same places as your target demographic.

Once you’ve defined who you are trying to reach with your event, think about the best ways to get the word to them. Post fliers in local hangouts, create an Instagram or Facebook campaign or, if your demographic is older, take out a newspaper ad. Knowing who you’re talking to will help you focus your marketing efforts.

5. Make it easy to purchase tickets.

If your event is ticketed, use a service like Eventbrite so people can easily sign up and pay online. You can also use this tool to communicate with ticket buyers so they are always aware of what’s going on + become increasingly excited with each update.

6. Share + use social media to build FOMO.

Help your audience understand what they’ll miss out on if they don’t come to your event. Tell them about the food, the drinks, the fun, the networking opportunities or the insightful speaker. Be as specific as possible, but make sure you’re sharing things that are important to your audience and that they will connect with. Invite them into the conversation + talk to them rather than at them.

7. Share often, but don’t overwhelm people.

Make sure your social media calendar not only includes announcements but features about other aspects of your business as well. Let your audience know about your event, but try to avoid sharing too much. A few ideas:

  • Focus promotions on certain days rather than every day.

  • Post stories on Instagram to remind people more often since they disappear after 24 hours

  • Go live to share about your event + the heart behind it.

  • Get out + about by sharing your flyers around the hotspots you visited before + engage in conversation with those interested.

8. Don’t rely on others to get the word out for you.

If you have an event on the horizon, now's the time to build brand awareness. Make sure your community knows who you are and what you do so that, when it comes time to promote, your audience is ready and waiting to support you. The work NOW will help you LATER.

9. Share photos during + after to build interest for your next event.

Share live from the event to remind those who aren’t at your event about everything they’re missing out on, and use the photos you take to let your audience know how your event went and why they should come next time. This is also a great time to get those interested in future events to join your mailing list for updates and announcements so they don’t miss out next time.

Promoting an event in a small town seems daunting, but, by applying just a few branding principles to your event marketing, you can knock it out of the park every time.

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