A solid marketing strategy is crucial for event promotion. To sell tickets, you need to spread the word about your upcoming event. That involves capturing your target audience’s attention and getting people excited about attending.
In today’s world, your mind might immediately jump to digital marketing tactics such as creating an event website, launching an email campaign, and even advertising on social media platforms. You may even try a few more traditional approaches, including billboards or mailed flyers. These strategies are effective, but there’s another one that often goes overlooked — word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).
Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the easiest and most cost-effective forms of advertising out there. Word-of-mouth marketing for events is a form of event promotion that involves convincing loyal attendees, followers, sponsors, and more to talk about and recommend your event to people they know. People trust their friends, and BigCommerce research supports that assertion, showing that 92% of individuals say they trust recommendations from their friends and family the most. That trust is what makes WOMM so powerful.
Not only do prospects tend to trust people they know, but word of mouth is also the primary way that most people learn about events. As an event organizer, WOMM can be one of the best tools in your arsenal. There are also several ways you can encourage it.
The Benefits of Word-of-Mouth Marketing for Events
Before diving into ways you can use word-of-mouth marketing for events, let’s take a quick look at the benefits it provides.
It Requires Little Effort on Your Part
You can encourage your attendees, event staff, sponsors, and others to promote your event, but there’s little you need to do after that. Everyone else takes care of the work for you.
Talking is free. It’s possible to encourage word of mouth without spending a dime. However, you may also choose to reward successful referrals with ticket discounts. Even so, WOMM is one of the least expensive marketing tactics in your toolbox.
It Builds a Community
Effective word-of-mouth marketing for events is a long-term strategy. Over time, the people who talk about your events establish a community. Many of the people within that community are likely to become loyal attendees of your future events.
Ways to Encourage Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Now it’s time to take a look at a few WOMM strategies to try.
Create Something Unique and Shareable
In today’s digital world, word of mouth spreads faster than ever before. A majority of people have a presence on at least one social networking platform. They can instantly share their thoughts, opinions, and more with their friends, families, and followers.
One way to encourage word-of-mouth advertising is to create something unique and shareable. When people see it, they’ll want to share it on their social media accounts. Create a giant mural, decorate a wall with faux grass and neon lights displaying a motivational (and relevant) quote, or set up an eye-catching display. These posts that your event attendees share can help capture the interest of their networks.
When encouraging people to share pictures and other types of content on social media, provide them with a unique hashtag to include. When their followers click on it, they’ll find even more user-generated content from your other attendees. All of those posts from other attendees can make a compelling argument. The person viewing it may decide to check out your event page or even purchase tickets to your next event.
Implement a Refer-a-Friend Program
Who doesn’t love a discount, especially when all you have to do is talk to others to get it? A refer-a-friend program could be just the event marketing tactic that encourages your attendees (and those interested in attending your event) to help spread the word. When they share your event on social media or through email, they can get a discount when one of their referrals buys a ticket.
The best thing about a refer-a-friend program is that it’s customizable. You determine how many people an individual needs to refer and how much of a discount they earn for achieving that goal. For instance, an attendee could earn a 5% discount for referring two people or a 10% discount for referring five. Additionally, there’s no pressure on your attendees. If they wish to participate, they can. If they choose not to, that’s fine as well.
Look Into Affiliate Marketing
Influencer marketing has increased significantly in popularity. Influencers have loyal followers who trust their opinions as if they were friends, even if they don’t know the person in real life. Their thoughts regarding your brand and your events could go a long way toward encouraging others to visit your event website or buy tickets.
Affiliate marketing can be an effective tool for encouraging word-of-mouth advertising. One of the first places to start looking for influential individuals is your list of current attendees. Pro tip: Check out the people in your refer-a-friend program and see who’s driving the most referrals. You can reach out to them and onboard them for your affiliate marketing program. The additional incentives can encourage them to work even harder to help you market your event.
You could also scour social media for more industry-specific influencers. These people may have more substantial followings that could help spread the word about your event even further. Getting them to join might be more of a challenge, but the right incentives could entice them to partner with you and aid in your event promotion.
Ask Your Sponsors for Help
Your sponsors likely have loyal followings, too. They’ve built a brand and established trust among their followers. What they have to say holds weight. Their customers or clients are likely to trust their opinions and recommendations.
Some of your sponsors’ audiences may already be part of yours, but you likely haven’t reached everyone. A little help from them, however, could go a long way toward broadening your reach. It’s always worth it to ask. Create sponsor-specific promo codes that they can include in their social media posts or email newsletters. You could also make it part of the contract that they will promote your event on their channels.
Offer Group Discounts
Events are social in nature, and what makes a social engagement better than when you have friends there with you?
There’s a good chance that many of your attendees know other people who would enjoy your events as much as they do (if not more so). You can encourage people who are interested in attending your upcoming event to spread the word to their friends and families by offering a discounted rate for group sales. Your loyal attendees will talk you up and get the people they know interested in attending. That money-saving bonus could be just the thing that encourages them to agree to go. They save money, and you sell more tickets. What’s more, that group is more likely to enjoy the event because they’ll be with people they know. After all, social events are more fun when you’re together.
As far as how much of a discount to offer, it doesn’t have to be much. Even a 10% to 15% discount can be enough to secure multiple ticket sales in one transaction. You may even consider offering steeper discounts for larger groups. In essence, the more tickets they buy, the more they save.
Use Text-Based Marketing
Text-based marketing is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. Text messages have a 98% open rate, according to EZ Texting. Additionally, 90% of texts get read within three minutes of reception.
Also known as SMS marketing, this method of advertising allows you to send out news, special offers, event promotions, and more via text message. You can also use it to help encourage attendees to spread the word about your event to their networks.
One of the most important things to keep in mind with SMS marketing is that your recipients have to opt in. You also need to provide them with a way to opt-out if they no longer want to receive messages. Getting that permission is crucial.
When you create an SMS marketing campaign, be sure to include an easily shareable link in your messages. That can encourage your recipients to share it with people they think might be interested in attending, too. For example, you might provide them with a link to your early-bird tickets.
They could then forward that link to someone else so that person can receive the same deal. Or you could offer them a link that provides a discount to each person who registers through it. You might even consider offering a discount to your recipients in exchange for encouraging others to buy tickets to your event, too.
Build a Solid Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy for Your Events
If word-of-mouth marketing for events isn’t already an essential component of your strategy, it should be. Effective WOMM can build buzz about your upcoming events, encourage sharing, and boost ticket sales. The best part is that it takes little effort and costs next to nothing.
Are you ready to start planning your next event? Visit Events.com to get started or request your demo today.