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Increase Your Word-of-Mouth:Strategies to Market Local Events

By Rebecca Kotz


Are you looking for ways to boost the “buzz” and attendance of your community events in 2012? Fun local events such as “Chill on the Hill” and the “Taste of Downtown” endear citizens and vacationers to your community, and bring in dollars to your businesses and families to your neighborhoods. If your budget is tight this year, you may be squeezed for social mediathe resources to properly promote your local events and festivals. Before you risk weakening your community brand by cutting your marketing budget or cancelling your next event, reinvent your marketing plan and focus on “word-of mouth” strategies

Develop a Three-Stage Event Marketing Plan
Develop a marketing plan that encompasses all three stages of event marketing to create a cycle of awareness, anticipation, engagement, and re-engagement that increases attendance and further promotes your event for years to come.

Stage 1: Pre-Event Marketing
The purpose of the pre-event marketing is to build awareness, buzz, excitement, and anticipation prior to the event to increase positive word-of-mouth marketing and attendance. You can use tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, email campaigns, radio ads, newspaper advertising, and other media.

Stage 2: During Event Marketing
A positive event experience is greatly influenced by how attendees interact with each other during the event. Marketing during an event allows attendees (as well as non-attendees) to interact with each other and discuss what’s happening. You may be thinking “why should we market to people who aren’t attending?” It’s the best way to engage non-attendees in the fun they missed and show them why they want to attend next time! You can use text messaging, live Tweeting, Facebook, and other media.

Stage 3: Post-Event Marketing
Many event marketers think about pre-event marketing and plan to engage people during the event, but completely ignore the possibilities of post-event marketing. The first few days and weeks after an event is a critical time to remind people about what they experienced and to re-engage them. You can create a Facebook photo contest, a Twitter eBook, Facebook “like” campaign, and other creative strategies.

outdoor event
Develop a marketing plan that encompasses all three stages of event marketing to create a cycle of awareness, anticipation, engagement, and re-engagement that increases attendance and further promotes your event for years to come.

Use Word-of-Mouth Strategies
To effectively execute a three-stage event marketing plan, creatively utilize the marketing tools and technologies that will best captivate your specific target audience. While each event and community is different, and your specific strategies may vary, here are six must-have social media and marketing tactics to encourage word-of-mouth and promote your next event:

1. Design a comprehensive website or landing page dedicated to this event that includes event information and activities, registration, video, Twitter stream, Facebook activity and more. Include social media sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and more to encourage additional sharing.

2. Post short, fun videos on YouTube before an event to increase awareness and hype-up the event, during an event to showcase what’s happening as it happens, and after an event to show highlights or reengage with a thank-you message to attendees, volunteers and sponsors.

3. Use a Twitter hashtag for your event and promote it in all your online and print marketing. Ask sponsors, volunteers, and attendees to use the event hashtag in their tweets when promoting and discussing the event. Pull these tweets to display on your website or landing page. Then print posters with the hashtag to display during the event to encourage attendees to tweet about the event throughout. If possible, broadcast or display those tweets in real-time for attendees to read at the event.

4. Promote on Facebook with a Facebook Event and Facebook Advertising that targets your specific demographics for location, age, gender, interests, etc. (If your event is large enough, also create a separate Facebook Page just for the event.) Encourage participation such as posting comments, photos, videos, and questions on the Facebook event page. Be creative with your Facebook Advertising to encourage “likes” which will help increase your reach.

5. Publish a blog for the event and invite sponsors, volunteers, and others to create blog posts. Encourage attendees and the community to read and actively comment on the blog posts.

6. Create a QR Code that when scanned (on an iPhone, Android phone, or other smartphone), your website, landing page, or an event page appears. Include this QR code in all print marketing and advertising, including posters displayed in the storefronts of local businesses. There are numerous websites that provide QR codes for free or at a monthly rate, depending on what you need to do with it. A few sources include Kaywa, Google, Qurify, Delivr, and numerous others. To scan on your phone, download apps such as RedLaser, ScanLife, Barcode Scanner, Shop Savvy or i-Nigma. To try scanning a QR code, if you scan the one in this article you’ll be directed to a page on our website with a special discount.
Event Marketing: YMCA Camp Copneconic
YMCA Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan has numerous camps throughout the year, but focuses mainly on their summer camps. In 2011, GEMS Solutions provided event marketing services to help build their attendance for their “open houses” and therefore increase registration for their summer camps. To learn about what we did, visit

For more ideas, download our free electronic book Event Marketing Through Social Media, the Web, and Beyond at GEMS Solutions LLC is a Michigan website design, social media, and marketing company. Our philosophy “empowering you to harness the power of the web” is based on our belief that marketing must focus on driving web traffic, capturing leads, and increasing results. To learn more about GEMS Solutions and request a marketing con-sultation at a special discount rate exclusive to League members, go to or scan the QR code on your smartphone.

Rebecca Kotz is president of GEMS Solutions, LLC. You may contact her at
810-820-0740 or



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