In a world of “Instagram this” and “Facebook Ads that,” audiences are drowning in run-of-the-mill marketing. Instead of a social ad that audiences skip, create a marketing event no one wants to miss.
Get creative with these event marketing ideas and watch your brand rise above the crowd. Once you’ve settled on the event, we’ve got more inspiration to help you market it — from customizable video invites to the social media must-haves.
What is event marketing?
It’s not a silly question. Event marketing isn’t just marketing an event. Event marketing involves using in-person or online engagements to market your brand, product, or service. Of course, getting the word out about those events is part of event marketing, but the events themselves are the crucial part of the strategy.
Instead of running a Facebook Ad campaign about your new all-natural sunscreen, for example, event marketing might inspire a 300-person branded pool party or a beach volleyball tournament sponsored by your brand. Or, if your marketing budget is lean, how about a virtual skincare class that highlights the benefits of natural sunscreen?
Event marketing comes with a slew of benefits — generating leads, increasing customer engagement, upselling customers, and raising brand awareness to name a few.
Event marketing works for small businesses and big brands alike. You don’t need a massive budget to give event marketing a go — keep costs low with a virtual event or cover costs with ticketed entry. Start small and grow your events as awareness of your brand grows. You’re the one running the show.
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Event marketing ideas to promote your brand
1. Put together a virtual event
The world is your oyster when it comes to virtual events. Online trivia nights, exclusive influencer interviews, classes, tutorials, virtual concerts, or a giant online dinner party — there’s no limit to how creative you can get.
Think about the type of event your target audience is most likely to enjoy, then consider which kind of event gives your brand the best chance to show off. That’s where you’ll find your event marketing sweet spot.
2. Host a webinar
Teach people something! If you have valuable information to share, turn it into a whole thing. Set the lesson plan, draft up the extra reading resources, and perfect your PowerPoint slides (or craft yourself an impressive video presentation).
Webinars typically have an interactive component, allowing people to ask questions and contribute to discussions. Not only will attendees learn about the topic and your brand, but you’ll get to know more about your target audience, too. Help your audience and generate leads all at once? Yep, you heard us right.
3. Live stream your in-person event
Extend the invite list of your in-person event by about 7 billion people by live-streaming the whole thing (or just the best bits and pieces).
Turn a local soiree into a worldwide marketing effort. Music festivals are a great example of this. They often offer a live-streamed option for those who can’t make it in person but still want to watch their favorite artists perform live.
Live-streaming isn’t necessary for every event, but if you’ve managed to bottle some in-person event magic, why not broaden your potential marketing audience?
4. Sponsor or participate in an established event
You don’t have to run the show to take a piece of that event marketing pie. Consider joining forces with established, well-known events that attract your target audience. For beauty and fashion brands, something like Fashion Week might be worth getting involved in. If you are in the healthy snacks business, why not partner up with a big sporting event in your area?
Keep an eye on established events in your area, and jump on board when you see a good fit. They’ll appreciate scoring a new sponsor or participant, and you’ll get all the marketing benefits without having to organize the whole event.
5. Join a trade fair
Show off your latest and greatest products at an industry-specific trade fair. Trade fairs offer the opportunity to score industry connections alongside plenty of new potential customers. If you’re headed to the fair with a product launch, you just might steal the show.
Hand your product the spotlight with an eye-catching setup and plenty of free samples. Hype things up even more with an exclusive contest or giveaway. Attendees enter on the spot, and you grab yourself some new leads in the process.
Set up a video display at your booth and draw people in with a killer product promo or demo video, like this one:
6. Love and leave them with a pop-up event
Leave them wanting more with a short-term pop-up event. Pop-ups give you more freedom and adaptability than other events. They also let you add the element of surprise.
Generate demand on social media by asking your followers where they want to see you pop up next. Or don’t tell anyone where you’ll be until you’re there. Advertise your position on your socials, and if your event is in-demand enough, you’ll have people flocking to you.
7. Organize an industry conference
Own the B2B market with an industry conference or workshop. Gather brands and professionals from your industry all in one place and talk shop for as long as you please. You’ll make some unbeatable connections and market your brand in the process.
8. Have some fun with a fan convention
If you’ve got yourself a fan favorite, turn the people’s love for your brand into the main event. From broader industry conventions (like beauty or tech) to specific niches (like TV shows or comics), if you’ve got the following, you can create an event around it.
Conventions typically deliver a more personal, behind-the-scenes experience than other types of events. This one is for the super fans and die-hards — an audience not to be taken for granted.
9. Make dreams come true with an influencer meetup
Add a touch of celebrity to your reputation by partnering with an influencer for an exclusive meetup. It’s no secret that certain audiences will walk to the ends of the earth to meet their influencer idols. If your brand makes those dreams come true, you’ve likely got yourself a fan for life.
10. Give away free stuff
Event marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Make “free stuff” the entire event. Let people know where you (and the free stuff) will be, and tell them to come get it.
Add some drama to it all with a bit of competition — maybe the first 50 people to make it to your event score a free product. Or, if drama isn’t your thing, stock up on enough free products and samples for anyone who stops by.
If you are looking to reach new audiences and get your brand out there, stage your giveaway in a busy, populated area. In this case, foot traffic is your friend. But if finding your event is part of the event, a quieter park or mall is a good option.
11. Send your audience on a scavenger hunt
Caption contests are boring; scavenger hunts are fun. Send your followers on a quest to complete your brand’s challenge, with a grand prize waiting at the end for the winner. Integrate social media hashtags and sharing into the game to broaden your event’s marketing reach without even lifting a finger.
This concept also works with other kinds of contests or challenges, like an eating competition or a giant obstacle course. In many cases, the sillier the better. Give people a fun way to spend their weekend and a chance to win a prize, and you’ve fashioned yourself a not-to-be-missed event.
12. Host an appreciation dinner
Or brunch, or picnic, or… you get it. Recognize your most loyal customers with an exclusive appreciation event.
Say “thank you” for everything they do for your brand, and build an even stronger relationship with one of your most important audiences. Bonus: when all their friends see the social media snaps of your ~exclusive~ event, they just might do a deep dive into your brand to figure out how they can score an invite to the next one.
Ideas to promote your event
Once you’ve planned the perfect event for your business, promote the heck out of it to make sure people attend. Use these event promotion ideas to guarantee you’ve got a hit on your hands.
13. Give your event its own website
Keep everything to do with your event in one (virtual) place. An event website gives you an easy link to direct attendees toward. It also acts as a home base for important information and updates.
Your website doesn’t have to be complicated. Include the event details, FAQs, and a video about what attendees can expect from the event.
14. Event hashtag
A hashtag is a must-have for every event marketing endeavor.
An event hashtag makes user-generated content easy to find and interact with by keeping everyone’s social posts in one easy-to-track place. It also helps anyone who wants to learn more about the event track it back to your account.
15. Use video to invite, update, and promo
Invite the masses or just a select few with a video invite. Video invitations allow you to convey all the need-to-know details while also giving viewers a sense of the event’s vibe. This can make all the difference between a “yes” and a “no” RSVP.
After you send the invites, use more videos to promote your event, update attendees with any event changes, answer any FAQs, or make a few snazzy event presentations.
16. Run a contest for free tickets
Start giving away free things before the event even begins. Run a ticket giveaway, or if your event is free, offer a VIP event experience.
Announce your contest and its winners with a scroll-stopping video like this one:
17. Throw together some swag bags
Sometimes an event is worth attending for the swag bag alone. Let people know you’ll be giving attendees a tote full of enviable goodies. Tell them what’s in there or leave it as a surprise. Either way, persuade people to turn up by mentioning your brand will gift them a bag full of free things. It works every time.
18. Send out emails or post some mail
Hit your email list with the event details directly to their inbox. It’s more direct than just posting to your socials and hoping your target audience will see it. It also gives your invite a more personal touch.
If you want to take things up a notch, send out invites, flyers, or postcards to physical mailboxes. People receive way more emails than mail these days, so it’s sure to make them take notice.
19. Go live during the event
Go live on Facebook or Instagram during your event. Platforms usually alert your followers with a notification when you go live. Show your followers highlights of the event and all the people already there having fun. The hype might even turn a few “maybes” into last-minute attendees.
20. Engage with socials during the event
Keep on top of your social media while the event is happening. Engage in real time with posts and stories attendees share, answer questions from on-the-fence attendees at home, and post your own event coverage so everyone knows your event is happening right now.
Don’t forget to use your event hashtag in every post and story!
21. Share user-generated content
There’s nothing more exciting than your photo getting chosen for a repost by the event you’re at (take that, every other attendee and your subpar photo-taking skills). Make your attendees feel special and take some of the event photography pressure off yourself by sharing the best user-generated posts to your socials.
Mid-event pictures with happy faces in them are event marketing gold, so be sure to save them for use in future event marketing promos (with the user’s permission, of course).
22. Create an event recap video to promote your next event
Your event has come to a close and was a 10/10 resounding success? Nice. Turn one home run into two by taking all the highlights of your event and creating a recap video.
The people who are there will watch it to see if they can spot themselves having a good time, and you’ll be able to use it in the future to show just how great you are at hosting events.
Event marketing examples
If our list of ideas wasn’t enough, we’ve also put together some of our favorite event marketing examples to prove the power of event marketing in action.
1. Innocent Unplugged Festival
Juice company Innocent is all about “goodness” and bringing wholesome ingredients to their product. With Innocent Unplugged Festival, they aimed to bring some “goodness” back to the lives of their stressed and busy customers. They ditched technology (and electricity!) and set up an event for people who wanted to get back to nature.
And of course, they provided plenty of Innocent smoothies and juices throughout the festival to keep people hydrated.
2. Refinery29’s 29Rooms
Digital media website, Refinery29, partnered up with artists, creators, and other brands to create a 29-room event. Each room is unique and just as interactive and Instagram-worthy as the last.
Refinery29’s primary audience is millennial women, so they nailed it with this dream Instagram opportunity come to life.
3. Candy Crush’s adults-only bouncy castle
Candy Crush promoted their new Candy Crush Jelly Saga game with an event no reasonable adult could pass up: an adults-only giant bouncy castle. With no tiny humans to accidentally squash, Candy Crush took visitors on a trip back to childhood with the eye-catching castle no passer-by could miss.
4. Glamour Magazine’s Beauty Festival
Beauty and style magazine, Glamour, turned the pages of their publication into a real-life festival. With big brand sponsors, celebrity speakers, makeup tutorials, beauty workshops, free products, and more, it was a celebration of everything their readers love.
5. IKEA’s Big Sleepover
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in IKEA? IKEA gave a group of their customers a chance to find out with IKEA’s Big Sleepover. The event arose in response to a customer sharing on social media that “I wish I could have a sleepover in Ikea”. Apparently, a lot of people shared their dream. One hundred customers signed up to stay the night.
6. Netflix’s Luke’s Diner Takeover
To promote their long-awaited Gilmore Girls revival, Netflix turned 207 locally-owned cafes into Luke’s Diners — a beloved location from the show. Fans lined up around the block to grab a coffee (and a selfie) from Luke’s, promoting Netflix’s new release and supporting local cafes in the process.
Given Netflix’s massive marketing budget, this event marketing idea would have been a relatively affordable one to pull off. The event garnered press coverage, was shared all over social media by fans of the show, and turned out to be a hit with attendees.
This one is proof that you don’t always have to spend a lot to put together an effective event marketing campaign. You just have to know your target audience.
The sky is the limit when it comes to how creative you can get with event marketing. Take these examples as inspiration and hit the drawing board with some ideas of your own. Don’t be afraid to experiment with out-of-the-box event marketing ideas — sometimes the wildest ideas breed the best results.
Event marketing plan template
Ready to give event marketing a shot? Follow these easy steps to plan your perfect event.
1. Choose the event type that best suits your brand and your customers
Get creative with out-of-the-box ideas that highlight your brand or new product.
2. Map out the event details
Cover the who, what, when, where’s — decide who is invited, whether the event is free or ticketed, and what you’re offering that will have invitees RSVPing “heck yeah” to your invite.
3. Plan your event promo
Set up your marketing and social strategy for getting the word out about your event.
4. Create an unmissable event invite video with Biteable
Use the power of video to cover the event details and capture the magic of what sets your event apart. Use a ready-made video template you can customize for your event, or start from scratch.
5. Keep up with socials on the day of your event
Stay on top of your social media while the event is happening. If possible, designate one person just for the task so nothing falls through the cracks. Share attendees’ Stories, reply to their posts, and let your FOMO-inducing event do some extra social marketing for you.
6. Reap the rewards of a successful event marketing soiree
Watch your social numbers climb, your sales grow, your brand awareness skyrocket, and your list of customer leads multiply.
Plan an unmissable event with Biteable
Make your event marketing plan simple with Biteable’s ready-to-edit event templates.
Start with a video invite or a video ad to promote the event, make use of video presentations on the day, and then tie things together with an event recap video.