(or should I say a SMALL budget?)
Everyone has to market on some sort of budget, but what do you do when there is almost no budget to market an event? There are still many marketing efforts that can be employed to promote your event that cost either nothing or very little.
Online Listings. List your event online on event listing websites like eventful.com, whofish.com, yelp.com, blacktiecolorado.com etc. Google “Event Listing Websites” and you will find lots of resources to list your event. This can be a tedious, time consuming task, but a worthwhile task nonetheless. Be sure to have some kind of graphic or photograph for your event to spice up your listing a little. (Most of these websites have very reasonable paid advertising options that will garner a significantly higher reach.)
Social Media. After you have created an event and have a website address to direct people to, have everyone in your organization post the event to their personal social media channels. Again, as with event listing websites, Facebook and Twitter offer very affordable advertising options to promote your event to people you would not otherwise reach.
Email Marketing. There are several companies that offer very inexpensive options to send eBlasts to their databases. Plus services like mailchimp.com or Constant Contact offer free html templates that allow you to email to a large group easily (provided you have their permission of course!)
Flyers and Posters. These can be produced relatively inexpensively at companies like AlphaGraphics or other print centers. Have your stakeholders, members, etc. distribute to friends and family, on community bulletin boards, etc.
Your own website. Make sure you have updated your website with all the pertinent information for your event as soon as the details have been finalized. There is nothing worse than directing people to your website than for them to find outdated or incorrect information.
Partnerships. Companies often have local vendors they purchase from that you can contact to share your event or if you are a non-profit, you likely have sponsor partners or benefactors who may be willing to forward an email from you (see number 3 above) to their contacts list, or share via their social media channels. Be sure you take the time to write up a brief description of your event for them to be able to share and send them a graphic or photo to post via social media channels as well.
News Tips. Send a “News tip” to your local media about your event. Often times, during slow news cycles, you may be able to get some coverage. Local entertainment or cable television shows are also a great resource.
Guerrilla Marketing. There are lots of “Guerrilla Marketing” efforts you can always employ as well: sidewalk chalk art in busy areas, stickers, postering, flash mobs, etc. These can be extremely effective, albeit a large undertaking for someone to organize. Be sure whatever you choose that it fits within your organization or company’s overall marketing strategy.