So, you have come up with an idea for an event, recruited your team, set your objectives, and organized the practical matters such as booking the venue, entertainment, decoration, and catering. What comes next is arguably the most stressful stage of the whole process: promoting the event and selling enough tickets to make it a success.

When starting out with event planning, a lot of people underestimate just how difficult it can be to get people excited enough to attend. Sometimes you might have the luxury of a star attraction such as a celebrity or sporting event, but often it is necessary to be creative in order to draw people to the event.

To get you started, this guide outlines some effective tactics that will help to promote your event.

Choose an event hashtag, and use it

Your event needs a consistent hashtag, which you can use in all your marketing including social media posts, your event website, social media account bios, and printed materials such as flyers or tickets. This will connect all the elements of your campaign and make it more memorable. Ensure that your team and any entertainers or guests are using the hashtag when they talk about the event.

Learn to love SEO

When people turn to search engines such as Google and Bing to find events happening in their local area, you want your event to turn up on the front page of the results. To make it more likely that this will happen, you need to invest some time and energy into search engine optimization (SEO). This means that when you write a blog, a social media post, or a press release, you do so with SEO in mind. For example, find out which words and phrases most people are typing into search engines (known as keywords) and include those words and phrases in your content.

Ensure people can buy tickets easily

Even if someone likes the sound of your event, if they have to jump through hoops to get a ticket, they may give up and go elsewhere. Ideally, they should not have to click away from your social media profile or website to buy tickets as this can create a disconnect in terms of branding. With a WordPress event registration plugin on your website, people will be able to buy tickets there and then. If you are sharing content on social media, be sure to include a call to action to get tickets, which links directly to the event registration or ticketing page on your website.

Offer tiered ticketing

A great tip for boosting sales is to offer different tiers of tickets depending on when people buy and how much they spend. For example, people who buy tickets before a certain date could pay a cheaper price to encourage early purchases. Offering a discount for group tickets can also be effective, as you encourage people to bring their friends along to the event. This means there are more people to spread the word and potentially more people to spend money at the event. If you are serving food and drink at the event, some tickets could include a special deal on a meal or a free drink. Alternatively, VIP tickets, which give attendees an improved experience such as priority seating or a gift, can also be popular.

Target social media audiences differently

A one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing is rarely effective. It is best to identify a few platforms that are popular with your target audience and to post highly shareable content. Facebook is usually a good choice as it has dedicated space for event promotion, while Twitter enables you to share short updates and teasers before and during the event. Instagram is great for sharing photos and behind-the-scenes moments, while LinkedIn is better suited to professional events. Whichever platform you choose, try to seek out your audience and engage with them when you can.

Incentivize your attendees

When you have secured some attendees, you can put them to work. Offer them the opportunity to upgrade their tickets to the VIP level or give them free drinks vouchers if they bring a friend along. Ask all your attendees to share that they are planning to attend on their social media accounts. Your performers or speakers could also promote their upcoming appearance on their own website and social media accounts. It is in their interest for the event to be a success, so they should not have an issue with spreading the word.

Run a competition

It might seem simple, but running a competition or giveaway can be a great way to stir up interest. Social media has some restrictions on the type of competitions you can run, but caption competitions, polls, votes, and asking people to comment (e.g. “I should win because…”) can be effective at generating engagement and reaching new audiences. On Instagram, you could ask people to create and share photos on a theme or using your event logo. Winners could receive free tickets or freebies at the event, but the point is that people are buzzing about your event.