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With budget cuts, how can I do more with less to promote my event?

This is tricky. While many solutions are available to help you cut costs on event marketing, it can be more costly to hire an amateur than to hire a professional. Use your judgment and consider the pros and cons of each solution before adopting it.

Below we’ve summarized some of these cost-cutting solutions:

Social Media

Social media can provide a “free” forum to promote your event’s program and registration information to a wider audience. But before you use social media, you need to determine if the audience you’re targeting is using it too.

And while setting up a social media profile is free, you’ll need someone to manage the day-to-day operations. Even if you use an existing internal resource to handle these accounts, if that person spends 5 hours a week managing social media accounts, that’s 5 hours they’re not working on their other tasks, so the overall cost isn’t necessarily reduced.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are also “free” in terms of setting up and managing profiles, but again, you’ll lose the hours worked by the person you assign to do these tasks. In addition, some email marketing services may charge fees for add-on features that will improve your campaign’s efficiency (analytic, for example, or mailing lists with more than a certain number of subscribers).

Optimized Publishing

Switching from printed to digital formats of published content, like programs and a sponsorship prospectus, can help cut costs, as well as paper waste for your meeting. Bundling your publications into a combined document can also reduce printing cost, such as combining a program book with your exhibitor guide.

Do you have a mobile app for your event? Consider publishing some of your event/meeting content on your event website or mobile app to avoid printing when possible. Make sure you prepare your participants to make that switch and adopt this way of consuming your content.

Does your association send regular mailing to its members? Why not hop on that bandwagon and include your event promotional flyer to save on mailing costs.

However, going this route means your partners and participants must have the technology to access the documents in this format. This could be particularly problematic onsite for participants without tablets or smartphones and those who still prefer a paper version of your program. Some associations have adopted print on demand for onsite programs where a portion of that is donated to an environmental organization.

Partnership Marketing

Cross promoting your event with partner organizations will expose your event to their membership and their community. Exchange ad placement in mutual association publications or their respective websites. Why not give them an opportunity to distribute their material at your event, in your delegate bag in exchange for sending out your eblast to their membership list?

Bottom line?

  • Social media can help you reach people who might never have heard about your event otherwise, bringing in new participants and thus additional revenue.
  • Email campaigns, when used strategically, are one of the most effective marketing strategies available. Meeting planners most often mention email and e-newsletters as delivering the best ROI in their event marketing campaigns.
  • Digital technology can be applied to mobile apps and webcasting, allowing your meeting to grow beyond the event’s walls to a much larger audience, and often leading to increased participation the following year.

So while the investment in these strategies—either in time or finances—might initially appear higher than you’d anticipated, the return is often worth far more than you bargained for.

We turn the question to you now, what are some of your most cost-effective event marketing strategies?

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