The Art of the Calendar:
Promoting Your Event Online for Free
Many small businesses (and nonprofits) still rely on a combination of flyers, phone calls, advertisements, email blasts - but many are not utilizing a free tool for event promotion: Online Calendars.
It used to be that organizations had to submit information to publications on events via printed press releases, announcements, faxed copies, etc. An online calendar (often called a Community Calendar) is a great way for businesses and nonprofits to “post” information so it's accessible to a larger audience.
Whether it’s a fundraiser, community meeting, workshop – these calendars are a very effective way to bring attention to your event – and it costs nothing!
How this works: Newspapers, TV Stations, Radio Stations, Yahoo, Craig’s List - all have areas that allow you to submit your event information online. This saves their staff from manually having to input information and is an added service to subscribers. Posting an event is usually free of charge, although some calendars will give you the option of uploading a logo or a specific event image for an additional charge.
What an Online Calendar Posting Gives You:
Your posted event listing (look for the Community Calendar or “Submit Your Event” section) will allow users to search your posting via date or event title. Even better, it will not only appear on the calendar website but it may also be printed (depending on available space and how compelling your event is to the reader) in the hard copy publication if there is one. In addition, when reporters are looking for events to cover they often access this information.
Some tourism and convention center websites even have “tentacles” – meaning that they push their online calendars to other websites in other regions. This broadens your event exposure even more. Note: This works best for large community events that have a broader appeal.
As with most event marketing, less is not more – you want to get your event on as many calendars as possible. The reason? Consumers get their information from many sources. If you post on a variety of calendars your event will start appearing in more online searches close to the event date. This gives you more exposure. Many calendars now also give you the option of sharing information on your social networks.
Now, like in anything, there are some “catches.” Make sure that your postings aren't too lengthy – two paragraphs is usually sufficient. You want to use the same information and verbiage in all your postings to be consistent and to assure your event is recognizable. Most calendars will prompt you for the basics (date, time, etc.) but still reinforce this in the "Description" section of your listing. Also, if you want to submit to a magazine keep a close eye on their deadlines.
NOTE: Many major metropolitan publications need information two months prior to publication – sometimes more. If your event is newsworthy (as in a fundraiser and NOT a small networking event) and will be held in November, for example, get your listing to the publication no later than September 1st (when in doubt, call and ask them for their specific deadline for submission).
Now don’t think for a moment that posting your event will automatically attract attendees. This will always depend on the nature of your event, how compelling your description is – and more. You still have to promote your event EVERY way you can. This is just one more FREE tool in your arsenal.
May the Marketing Gods be With You!