How to Market an Event: 8 Ways to Give Your Guest List a Boost

Events are a great way to engage your customers — except when no one shows up. To make sure you don’t end up with an empty room full of balloons, follow some of these best practices:

1. Capitalize on holidays and special occasions

Things like New Year’s, Small Business Saturday, the finale of a popular TV show, or anything that’s collectively on people’s minds, can help you land on a theme for your event and create excitement. Try to get creative, too. For example, if you host a Mad Men finale party, put midcentury furniture on sale as a fun twist. (Note: no Mad Men event is complete without some cocktails.)

2. Old-school signage

Yes, it’s the digital age (more on that below), but physical signs are also an effective way to market your event — especially if a lot of foot traffic passes by your store window. Another thing to consider is flyers. For this strategy, think about where your customers are likely to be receptive to your event. An esthetician offering a class on the best foods for healthy skin, for example, might ask a neighborhood yoga studio if it would be willing to put up some flyers.

3. Tap your neighborhood

It’s always a good idea to extend invitations to fellow neighborhood businesses. For one, it brings the neighborhood together, fostering a sense of community. And, if they know about your event, they may be more likely to tell their customers about it, too.

4. Email marketing

Sending your customers an email about your event is a lever you’ll always want to pull. Luckily, Square Customer Engagement has a ready-to-go template that’s specifically tailored for marketing events. What’s great about Square Customer Engagement is that it automatically segments your customers into three groups — loyal, casual, and lapsed. So you could invite just your most loyal customers to an event you want to keep intimate, for example.

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5. Social media

If you have a robust social media presence, market your event there. And if your event is around a holiday, be sure to include relevant hashtags (#FathersDay, for example). That’ll get you in the stream of conversation. You can also directly @ mention some of your most engaged followers on Twitter. Things like “hope to see you there!” go a long way in making them feel special. Another social media best practice is to post pictures of the event after it’s over, tagging the customers who were there (if you have their social info). This wraps things up nicely and has the added benefit of letting the social sphere know that your store is a fun place to be.

6. Think about timing

People are busy, so it’s good to let them know about things earlier rather than later. If you’re sending them an email invitation using Square’s email templates, try to do it a few weeks before the big day. Then a few days before, send a reminder.

7. Send follow-up notes

After the event is over, don’t go radio silent. You might want to send them a discount as a token of appreciation for making your event so special. Square Customer Engagement has another template specifically tailored for discounts, so you can easily put that to use.

8. Capture people’s contact information

Aside from being a fun way to bring your customers together, events are also a great opportunity to capture more people’s contact information. Ask new folks for their contact info so you can build your Customer Directory. Then you can easily send them updates about your business, or even invite them to your next event.

Learn more about Square Customer Engagement.