Promoting your event may seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, or if you’ve experienced a disappointing turnout. The good news is that while many people assume that effective marketing is expensive, you don’t actually need to spend a lot of money — or any at all, in many cases. What you need is some time and commitment. If you find yourself frustrated by low turnout or are looking for ways to attract more non-vegans to your event or activity, please read on. We’ve collected tips to help you promote your events like a pro. These ideas cover a broad range of activities, from simple food samplings to large vegfests. So, choose what works best for your event and your capacity.
Design an event that appeals to non-vegans
A successful promotional strategy begins in the event planning stage. Even your best effort to promote won’t work if your event isn’t appealing or intriguing in the first place.
Understand your audience. Understanding your target audience and what motivates them is the first step in promoting your event. If you plan an event that appeals to your ideal audience, then promotion naturally becomes easier and more effective. Avoid the trap of only attracting fellow vegans. They may be easier to relate to, but keep in mind that our goal as advocates is to reach non-vegans. So, start by asking yourself what kind of event you can design that will spark the interest of non-vegans.
Identify non-vegan causes that are aligned with vegan values. Environmentalists, the health and wellness community, and animal lovers share some of the same values as vegans and may be open to learning more about plant-based eating. With this in mind, one group of activists chose to table at a doggie dash fundraiser for the Humane Society of Boulder, an event that attracts more than 1,000 self-professed animal lovers. The group drew the crowd to their table by offering free vegan breakfast foods and then engaged them in conversations about compassionate eating. To attract a health and wellness audience, you could table at a health conference or organize an event focused on the health benefits of veganism and promote it by posting flyers at local gyms and health food shops. Likewise, to attract an environmental crowd, look for events, such as Earth Day activities or eco film festivals, where you can offer vegan food samples and information. This audience will be especially appreciative of your eco-friendly set-up!
Leverage established events and venues to increase your audience. Your choice of venue can give your promotional efforts a boost. For example, setting up a booth or table for food sampling or paid-per-view (PPV) at a university, festival, or conference can put you in front of hundreds or thousands of people. If you’re planning a film screening, look for movie theaters that sometimes donate space or charge a nominal fee. Collaborating with an established venue means that you may be able to take advantage of their existing marketing structure, in addition to your own promotional activities.
Cultivate an online presence
Your online promotional strategy will depend on the nature of your event and your audience. If you know, for example, that your target group prefers Instagram over Facebook, then you know where to post most of your content. Here are ideas that may work for you.
Event page. An event page serves as a home for all of your event’s details. You can include a link to the event page in emails, social media, online calendars, and other media. People who are interested will visit the page to learn more. One option is to set up your event page on an existing platform such as Facebook or Eventbrite. Your event page may also live on a website if it’s associated with an organization or larger event, such as a festival or conference that has its own site. You may want to create one if you haven’t already. Tools such as WordPress and Wix make it easy for anyone to create a simple website.
Email. You or your organization may have an email list of people who have shown interest in your past events. Announce your event to your email list and send a few reminders as the date approaches. Email your friends, family, supporters, relevant organizations, and local vegan-friendly businesses about your event, and ask them to share the information with their contacts. For a bit of extra exposure, link your email signature to your event page.
Social media. Of course, you can use your Facebook event, your organization’s Facebook page, and your personal social media accounts to post content. But, to avoid spamming your audience, do more than post event details on repeat, asking people to attend. Instead, build community around your event by posting information that is helpful or interesting to your audience. Here are some ideas to try.
Join us at 1pm for a screening of The Invisible Vegan and a LIVE Q&A with producer Jasmine Leyva! https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81999207295
Posted by Compassionate Action for Animals on Sunday, April 19, 2020
- Highlight what your event has to offer, such as a special guest, the excellent food that you’ll serve, the awards a film has won, etc.
- Create a graphic using a photo of one of your speakers with one of their inspiring quotes.
- Get creative and define your own branded hashtag.
- Partner with a social media influencer who is interested in your event and share their posts.
- Include appropriate hashtags and mentions to reach your potential audience.
- Use relevant videos and stories. These are favored by Facebook and Instagram algorithms.
- If it’s within your budget, consider strategic Facebook ads, which can increase the reach of your event.
Highlight reel. If you have great video footage of past events, consider putting together a highlight reel with uplifting music, like this one by Rice VegFest. Now you have a dynamic piece of content that you can include in your website, emails, social media posts, articles, etc.
Neighborhood guides and calendars. Many people browse events using online (or print) community guides. Publishing your event in general or special interest listings (i.e., university or fitness newsletters) can help you reach a non-vegan audience. Is there an app your audience uses to discover events? Does your local paper have an online calendar where you can list your event? Some calendars are targeted to particular markets, such as tourists, and some are posted as public service announcements by municipalities or government agencies. You can typically email a contact person or submit an event online. Check to see if your venue has an online calendar. If you’re a VegFund grantee, you can have your event listed on our Events Calendar as well! One of the questions on the application form will allow you to opt in.
Other online platforms. If you have a podcast or YouTube channel with a following, you will, of course, promote your event there. But, even if you don’t have your own platform, you may know someone who does. Ask them if they’ll interview you or promote your event. Look for channels to reach audiences outside your circle.
Make yourself newsworthy
Wouldn’t it be great to have an article written about your event — before it happens? How do you get reporters to take notice? Here’s how to craft an approach to getting picked up by a variety of media outlets.
Press releases. Also known as news releases or media releases, press releases are a written or recorded communication submitted to journalists and bloggers. They can be sent to both print and online newspapers and magazines. Some have submission deadlines, so do your research ahead of time. Here’s a specific and simple format to follow.
Pitch your story. Put together a list of contact details for your local newspaper and radio stations. Prepare an email or message for the media that generates interest by providing a background story or drawing a connection from your event to other recent news, such as a story on farmed animal cruelty, obesity statistics in this country, a new vegan restaurant getting rave reviews in the area, or a celebrity or politician who went vegan. If you have a celebrity guest for your event, or a public figure willing to help promote your event, highlight them as well. Prepare and practice your elevator pitch. Now, you’re ready to reach out to reporters and publications.
Radio announcements and interviews. Local, community, and college radio stations air brief public service announcements (PSAs) for charitable events. Some stations prefer to have their staff read the announcement on air. Others may assist you in making an announcement for free or charge a small fee to cover their time and costs.
Is print still worth it?
Plenty of people don’t use social media and still rely on print media. If this is your audience, print can be helpful. Print materials can also be effective when placed strategically in high-traffic areas where your target audience spends their time.
Flyers, posters, and postcards. Create eye-catching materials using color and compelling language. For inspiration, visit a bulletin board and take note of posts that stand out from the others. If the thought of creating print material is intimidating, enlist a volunteer who has some graphic design experience or enjoys creating graphics. You can also use an online vendor such as Vistaprint to create and print your materials.
Distribution. Post your items at least one to two weeks before an event. Have a team split up to cover strategic areas for your target audience. Potential locations include coffee shops, movie theaters, community and health centers, recreational facilities, markets, libraries, universities, etc. Think of places where your target audience or the general public spends time so that you reach plenty of non-vegans. In some cases, sending a postcard or personal invitation in the mail can add a personal touch that makes all the difference.
Add a personal touch
You’d be surprised how many people rely on personal recommendations or spontaneous encounters when choosing their activities.
Don’t underestimate the value of word-of-mouth. Tell everyone you know. Share your event with your family, friends, and colleagues, and ask them to spread the word.
Keep promoting on the day of your event. Day-of promotion is essential for many events, including public food samplings, PPV, and film screenings. Make your event enticing. Think: cute chalkboard signs with easy-to-read language. If you’re tabling, engage passersby with friendly conversation.
- Be realistic. You may not be able to act on all the tips we shared right away, and that’s OK. Choose what is most appropriate and likely to be effective for your event and focus on what you and your team have time to do. You can always come back to this resource later to try other ideas.
- Be clear and accurate. Proofread all of your materials to make sure your wording is easy to understand and free of mistakes. Highlight key information so that your piece attracts attention on a quick scan. Check that you’ve included all of the essential information (who, what, when, where, how much, special attractions, transportation options, etc.).
- Do some homework. Set up a document with all of your contacts and resources, such as newspapers, radio stations, organizations, blogs, and flyer drop-off sites. This comprehensive list will help you develop and execute your plans. You can also use it to delegate tasks and reuse it for future events.
- Make a task list. Create a checklist and timeline in a document, spreadsheet, or project management software where you track the who, what, when, and where for your tasks.
- Delegate effectively. People are more likely to help you if you ask individuals to take care of specific tasks than if you make a general call for help.
- Stay organized. Keep your print designs, email announcements, lists, press releases, budget, etc. in one easy-to-find place. If you organize a similar event in the future, you can edit these and save yourself a lot of time and effort!
Successful event promotion pays off immeasurably. It allows your work to reach more people, and that, in turn, has a greater impact on advancing veganism in the world. So, be creative with your next steps — and be bold.