But you may have heard that we just got done planning and hosting the biggest inbound marketing event ever (at which Amy Schumer did indeed perform) -- INBOUND 2015. And part of that planning meant, obviously, driving ticket sales.
But how do you make your event stand out in the crowd? Not only that, how do you get people to actually spend the money to attend your event?
We're going to share some of our secrets with you that have helped drive our ticket sales for INBOUND past and present; hopefully these will help you promote your next event, too!
15 Ways to Drive Ticket Sales for Your Event
1) Reward last year's attendees.
If you have an annual event, the first thing you should do is announce the event to last year's attendees. The people who came the year before may be your biggest supporters and are more likely to immediately purchase the tickets, even if you don't have all the details for the conference hammered out quite yet. Show that you appreciate them by offering them a special discount for signing up early and quickly.
2) Offer early bird pricing.
Have at least 2 different types of pricing: early bird and regular. You can even have more than one type of early bird pricing to encourage people to buy before the prices increase. This sense of urgency will encourage people to buy sooner.
3) Ask early registrants to write blog posts.
The people who register for your event first will be among your biggest supporters -- that means they're also good candidates to write blog posts for you to help promote the conference. To promote INBOUND 2012, we had the first person to register for this year's conference write a blog post. We also had another customer who enjoyed last year's conference write a blog post. Instead of hearing from the HubSpot team why we thought our conference was great, these posts let you hear when the event was a can't-miss opportunity from actual attendees. Third-party endorsements will always carry more weight then tooting your own horn.
4) Don't just promote your conference; promote the location!
People interested in your conference don't just want to hear about your conference, they want to hear about the location of the conference. Frankly, the location of conferences can sometimes be one of the biggest draw for potential attendees -- it's kind of hard to say no to an event in a cool, beautiful city. Promote other attractions near where your conference is help that may interest attendees. If you can get discounted rates to some of those attractions, that's even more of an incentive for people to attend your conference!
5) Get in touch with industry organizations to help promote.
In every industry, there are professional organizations who would be more than happy to help you promote your event. Get in touch with them, tell them about your event, provide email copy, and make it easy for them to promote on your behalf. This will help get your event in front of thousands of more qualified people that you wouldn't normally have access to.
6) Use LinkedIn for promotions targeted to your industry.
LinkedIn Company Pages, LinkedIn Events, and LinkedIn Groups are a great way to contact people in your industry who may be interested in your event. Take advantage of the ability to promote your event to thousands of relevant people in your industry, on a social network built for networking -- you know, the reason people go to events.
7) Start contests within your company.
Don't forget about the giant network you have right within your office's four walls -- your employees. Encourage them to promote your event to the leads and customers they talk to through some friendly competition. Incentivize ticket sales by offering prizes to whoever sells the most tickets (give everyone a unique discount code so you can track it!), or you could even reward a full team for working together to sell tickets.
8) Consistently update social media accounts.
Social media accounts should have weekly updates with information about your conference, including links to the event's registration page. Give your network a compelling reason to attend your conference in those updates, and a link to registration page to close the deal.
9) Advertise on social media.
Leveraging your paid advertising options on social media is another way to target people in your industry. Use targeted ads to promote to your industry with links directly to the registration page. If you need help getting started, here is a guide for executing a Facebook ad campaign, and a guide for executing a LinkedIn ad campaign.
10) Leverage event sponsors for promotion.
Your sponsors will want to help you with promotion, because more attendees means more facetime with more people. But they're busy. Really busy. So the easier you make event promotion on them, the more likely it is they'll actually do it. Provide sponsors with templated email copy and discount codes so it's easy as pie to promote to their lists.
11) Sprinkle calls-to-action throughout your website.
Your homepage should have a promotion to your conference. Your login page (if you have one) should have a promotion to your conference. Your blog should have banners promoting your conference. If you're planning a huge event, most pages on your website should have links to your conference site, making it easy for anyone to find information about your event and register.
12) Issue different types of passes.
Some people may not be able to attend your whole event, whether they're unavailable for the full duration, can't be away from the office for so long, or can't swing the hotel costs. Issuing different types of passes helps accomodate those people and drive more ticket sales. Consider passes like a student pass, a keynote pass, or a party pass.
13) Promote the "fun stuff."
Anyone hear of Cyndi Lauper? Anyone? Announcing a headliner performer will drive a lot of ticket sales as well as get people excited for more than just the content you'll have during your conference sessions. The main reason people attend conferences is for the beneifical content, sure, but promoting the parties and some of the nighttime activities definitely helps. I mean, who doesn't like to party?
14) Gamify the act of event promotion and ticket sales.
Host contests or games with your network to promote your conference and drive ticket sales. During your webinars, for example, you could take advantage of the large audience to promote the conference by giving away free tickets to whoever tweeted the most with your webinar hashtag. Everyone loves a little friendly competition, and you'll certainly love the free promotion of your event!
15) Ask your speakers to write blog posts promoting their sessions.
The success of an event all comes down to its content. Reach out to speakers and ask them to write guest blog posts that promote their sessions, and give a sneak preview of what they'll be discussing. It's a win-win -- they get more attendees excited about their session, and you get free content (that your guest blogger will likely promote to their network) to drive ticket sales.
What other ways can you think of to drive ticket sales for events?
Originally published Aug 13, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated October 23 2017