Small Business Marketing Guide

8. A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Event Marketing

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Small Business Marketing

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Event Marketing

Jun 15, 2023 • 10+ min read
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Table of Contents

      Event marketing is planning and executing an event to promote your brand, product, or services. These events can be in-person, virtual, or a hybrid of the two. Event marketing allows you to connect with your audience, nurture leads into sales, and turn neutral customers into advocates for your business. 

      Fifty-two percent of marketers say event marketing drives the best ROI, which makes it a popular marketing strategy. With so many different businesses, you need to differentiate yourself from your competition. You want to stand out and develop relationships with your audience and community. Event marketing can help you do that. 

      Creating an event marketing plan.

      When planning an event, it’s essential to outline your event marketing plan beforehand. Your marketing plan will help you decide which type of event to put together and will help you track your ROI (return on investment) once it’s over. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and money organizing an event and then wonder if it was worth it after. 

      Define event goals and objectives.

      First, you want to define what your goals are for this event. Use measurable goals wherever you can to see how well you achieve them. Some goals for your event may be hard to measure, like spreading brand awareness, but wherever possible, set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals.

      Some example of event goals may be:

      • Increase sales of a specific product by 20% during the week of the event.
      • Gather 100 new email addresses from customers before your event.
      • Receive 30 referrals from current customers during your event.

      This step is well worth your time up front, as your goals will shape and inform the rest of your planning.

      Identify your target audience for your event.

      Next, you’ll want to identify your audience for this event. The more specific you can get, the more you can personalize your event to meet this audience’s needs and interests. 

      Let’s say you own a craft shop and receive many one-time customers. You’d like to establish loyal returning customers. Your SMART goal is to increase your returning customer sales from 10% of your total sales to 30%. 

      You decide you want to focus on people just starting a new crafting hobby and will need help learning new skills and the appropriate supplies. Knowing your target audience will help you brainstorm what types of events will be most interesting and helpful to this audience.

      There are many things to consider as you determine your target audience: interests, needs, demographics, and industry. Be thoughtful about your target audience and how their needs align with your goals.

      Establishing a realistic budget.

      The next step to planning your event is determining your budget. Costs for events can quickly add up. By setting your budget early in the process, you can select the type of event, venue, speakers/guests, and other goodies that will be included in your event. 

      Selecting the right type of event and format.

      You can choose from several different event types for your event. There are live events, which take place in-person and in a physical location, and virtual events, which take place online. There are benefits to both types of events, so think about your audience, budget, and goals to determine which is best for you.

      Types of marketing events.

      Let’s look at six different types of events you could use to maintain momentum for your business.

      1. Training sessions

      No matter what product or service you sell, there is almost always training that can go along with it. Have one of your experts hold a special session where participants get insider tips for maximizing the value of your product or service.

      This approach is particularly effective for businesses with SaaS and software offerings, though it can also be beneficial for everyone from lawn care businesses to construction companies.

      2. Webinars

      If there’s an informational topic that your business understands better than anyone else, use a webinar to spread the word. This is your chance to showcase your expertise and provide value to potential customers worldwide.

      One additional benefit of virtual events like webinars: you’ll collect contact information from participants, allowing you to follow up with strategic communications after the fact.

      3. Product launches/grand openings.

      If you’re opening a physical location or launching a new product, throwing a party can be a fun way to introduce your business or new product to your community. These events give you a more casual opportunity to get to know your target audience and introduce them to your business.

      For example, if you own a hair salon and are launching a facial skin care service in your salon, a launch party would be an excellent opportunity to meet new customers and introduce your regulars to your new product.

      4. Tradeshows and industry sponsorships.

      A tradeshows is an event where businesses in a specific industry get together to demonstrate their products and discuss the latest trends in their industry. Attending a tradeshow is a great way to network and make connections in your industry. You can host a booth, sponsor the tradeshow, or just attend. 

      For example, a construction company may want to host a booth at a tradeshow in the construction industry to display its latest products and techniques and to get new contacts in its sector. This attendance could lead to opportunities to partner with other businesses or gain referrals. 

      5. Community events

      Hosting community events is an exciting way to familiarize your community with your business and increase brand loyalty. If your community sees that you’re investing in it, they’ll want to invest in your business. 

      An example would be hosting workshops. Let’s go back to our previous craft store example. If you’re a craft store owner and want to increase your return customers, you could host crochet workshops each week. These workshops will help new and intermediate crocheters become more invested in their hobby and build a community. It will also likely lead to more sales as these crocheters need supplies to keep up with their hobby.

      6. Hosting a concert or other entertainment.

      Hosting an entertainment event is another fun way to familiarize your audience with your business and encourage them to return. Hosting regular entertainment events will bring customers back, so they can continue participating. 

      If you own a restaurant and want to boost your Friday night sales, having live music from local artists on Friday nights can drive more business. A concert could also be a chance to get more regulars or to launch new menu items with your audience that will get them returning. Your live music event will help spread the word about your restaurant and attract new customers.

      Marketing strategies to promote your event.

      As you’re planning your event, you’ll want to create an event marketing plan to promote your event and start promoting it as soon as possible. It’s hard to have a successful marketing event if no one knows about it, so promotion is vital. 

      Create a strong event brand.

      You’ll want to create captivating event branding and message. Choose a name for your event, a theme, and a color scheme that will be compelling and easy to remember. Your branding will set the stage for your event, so you’ll want it to resemble your business’ brand and represent what this event will be like.

      Share your event.

      Now you’ll share your event using your branding on various channels, including any social media channels you’re using, physical promotions like posters/signs, emails to current customers, and featuring the event on your website. 

      Create a landing page or website.

      For your event, you’ll want to create either a landing page or an entire website dedicated to your event. This online resource for your event allows attendees to register and learn about your event. If you ask participants to register for your event on your website, make the registration process easy and attractive. 

      Utilize email campaigns.

      During registration, you can gather emails and then use them to remind your attendees of the event and prepare them for it. You’ll want to be strategic, so you don’t overwhelm or annoy your attendees with too many emails. 

      Promoting during your event.

      You’ll want to keep your audience engaged and interested during your event. Plan interactive experiences for your audience and encourage them to share their thoughts and feedback. People love feeling like they’re being listened to and that their opinions are valued. 

      You can encourage your attendees to tag your business as they share their experiences on social media. Create a hashtag specific to your event that is easy to remember and encourage your attendees to use your hashtag to share photos and their thoughts on the occasion. Interact with your attendees who use your hashtag on social media to show you appreciate their thoughts and attendance. 

      Measuring success and optimizing future events.

      Your event is over. You did it! Now you’ll analyze how your event did in helping you reach the goals you first established.

      Follow up on your goals.

      Look back at your goals and measure how you did against them. If you wanted 100 new email subscribers to your newsletter, how many did you get from this event? How many sales did you make because of your event? What was attendance like? Are there any other metrics that should be accounted for?

      For example, if you’re a restaurant owner and host a concert night, and your goals were for higher attendance and food sales. You’d look at how many customers you had and your revenue for the night. However, if another local business came to you after the concert and wants to collaborate and sponsor the next concert night, then that would be another benefit that you hadn’t originally planned on, but should be accounted for. 

      Analyzing data and measuring ROI.

      Now that you’ve got the benefits and the numbers for how you performed against your goals, determine your ROI. You’ll want to look at all the costs that went into your event and compare that to the revenue you received. Your ROI will help you determine how successful the event was. 

      Incorporating feedback and making improvements.

      Once you measure your event’s success, you can determine what to change for next time. Take any feedback you receive into consideration as you look at ways you can improve your promotion and execution of your event. Each iteration will help you improve and increase your ROI on future events. 


      Event marketing is a great marketing strategy to help build brand awareness, boost sales, and create loyal customers. When planning an event, it’s crucial to establish your goals and objectives and promote the event early and often. During your event, keep your attendees engaged and continue promoting the event. After your event, look at what went well, your ROI, and how to improve your next event. 

      About the author
      Kendra Madsen

      Kendra Madsen is a content strategist, UX writer, and digital marketing consultant for small businesses. She has written hundreds of articles for small businesses in many different industries, using SEO best practices. When she isn’t writing or obsessing about the latest marketing trend, she can be found outside mountain biking or playing at the park with her son and dog.

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