Digital Marketing Agency Charleston WV | Ideation Digital 222 Capitol St Suite 422, Charleston, WV 25301, USA +1 800-538-6950

Event Marketing Using Facebook Ads

How to Market your Live Event Using Facebook Ads

Your big event is coming up and you need people in those seats, but attendance has been dying off for years and traditional marketing just isn’t getting you results anymore, so what do you do?  You do what everyone is doing right now, because it works, you go online.  Marketing is about reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time, and social media and search engines have made two of those three steps easier than ever, so if you are ready to take the leap, you are already in better shape than anyone still stuck in traditional media hell.

You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t already see some value in online marketing, so let’s just get right to it.


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Event Marketing using Facebook Ads Reality Check #1:

You Are Probably Marketing Your Event on Facebook All Wrong

Facebook marketing isn’t what it used to be, just like traditional marketing, except it’s gotten more effective.  If you are still doing what worked 3 years ago, or what someone told you worked three years ago, you will not be successful and you will insist that Facebook Ads Don’t Work.  The first thing you should do if you are trying to fill a big event is to invest in expert help or an expert education.  Now that I’ve gotten the obligatory “it’s worth investing in marketing” statement out of the way for the day, I’ll move on to things you can do on your own as you ignore me.

Event Marketing using Facebook Ads Reality Check #2

You Probably Aren’t Sending People to the Right Place when Marketing Your Event on Facebook

Cue confused look on your face, followed by an explanation.  Facebook is a platform and a search engine in its own right.  That means it prefers to keep people on its own platform, and if you are asking it to send it’s members somewhere else, that somewhere else better not suck.  Chances are, by Facebook(and probably your prospects) standards, your website, landing page, or tinder profile sucks.  I don’t say this to be insulting, I say this because in the last month we’ve analyzed 100 businesses’ online marketing and 0 of them were up to Facebook and Google standards.  And to state the obvious, if your website, landing page, or tinder profile were as good as they should be, you probably wouldn’t be here looking for help.


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Things you probably don’t know matter to Facebook and Google a great deal:

  1. The speed at which your page loads.  People don’t have dial-up anymore and they aren’t willing to wait for your website to load like it’s 2004 either.  Statistics show that every extra second of load time on a site can cost you 25% of your audience. That means if your website or landing page takes a measly 4 seconds to load, the same amount of time it takes you to swipe left, you’ve already lost half of your prospective attendees to your event before the site even loaded.  Want to know if your site is hurting you and your ads?  Get a competitive analysis here and that’s one of the many things we will tell you about your and your competitor’s online presence.  P.S. Google knows this too which means not only is it killing your results, it’s making your ads more expensive, and making you show up lower in search results.  Page speed kills…your business.
  2. Your privacy policies.  Even before GDPR and the great Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook was taking steps to take their member’s privacy more seriously.  Now they are as likely to shut down your ad account as they are to shut down your ads.  Make sure wherever you send people to, that your privacy policy is clearly displayed, and that if you are tracking them in other ways, you make that clear too.
  3. Your congruency.  The people you are trying to sell to care about this too, so make sure your targeting, your messaging, and your landing pages all agree about what the topic is, what the branding is, and what the action is you expect people to take.  Facebook doesn’t like confusion or trickery, or the appearance of it, so make sure your death metal concert ads are targeted at death metal enthusiasts, talk about death metal in the ad, and when they click to that website or landing page, you guessed it, you had better fry their brains with death metal as soon as they arrive.
  4. Your advertiser status.  If your account with Facebook is new, you are going to get worse results, if you don’t spend much money, you are going to get worse results, if you have been banned before or repeatedly place ads that violate Facebook policies, you are going to get worse results, and if you don’t pay your bills on time, marketing your live event using Facebook Ads is just going to suck.  Just like TV stations, newspapers, and everyone else gives preference to their best customers, Facebook is nicer to you when you give them reasons to like you.  If you have never run Facebook ads before, expect to get hazed a bit when you start out and make sure you follow the rules and pay your bills.

Want to learn more about what Facebook advertising could do for your business?  Schedule a free marketing consultation with one of our Business Development Specialists HERE

Ok, now that we’ve gotten all the small print out of the way, let’s move on to strategies to get butts in seats at your next big event using Facebook Ads

First, let’s start with the strategies to avoid when marketing your live event using Facebook Ads.

If you are going to use Facebook Ads to market your live event, unless you are a household name, selling event tickets to a cold audience is going to get you cold results.  Just because you know your $2000  event is going to change people’s lives, doesn’t mean Molly the small business owner knows that, believes you, or even cares about you enough to click on your ad.  You need to build a relationship with someone, especially your average online consumer, if you want them to trust you enough to fork over their hard earned money.

Don’t forget you need to have a marketing strategy in place(pre-event, during the event, and post).  Don’t blindly boost posts with fun pictures or ask people to share a post just hoping the extra exposure will magically pack your event.  Have a plan to reach the right people in the right way, ask them to take a clear action, have a strategy in place to capture some of their info to build your list, have a plan to leverage that list, have a plan during the event to start selling next year’s festival, have a plan after the event to sell people more merchandise, get them to join a fan group, and get them ready for early bird specials to the next program.

Don’t be that guy:  Don’t beat people over the head with advertising.  Show them the value of your event, if people show interest, follow up with testimonials, cool bonuses, and amazing images and stories, not just, “hey you didn’t sign up yet, hey you didn’t sign up yet, hey…”  They know they didn’t sign up yet, I promise, and getting them more excited about signing up will go a lot further than reprimanding them for not doing it I promise.  There is a reason cable TV never sold channels that were all commercials, none of us want to feel like we are being sold to, remember that.

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Now for the good things to do when marketing your live event with Facebook Ads

Options for warming up your event audience or starting that relationship:

Digital Marketing Agency Charleston WV | Ideation Digital 222 Capitol St Suite 422, Charleston, WV 25301, USA +1 800-538-6950

Depending on the type of event you are having, there are several options for beginning the relationship that are better than, “hi nice to meet you, I swear my event is cool so give me $1,000 k?”

FIRST, ask yourself what your main goal is.  Get clear on what your #1 revenue generator is:  ticket sales?  sponsorships?  selling from the stage?  This should direct your marketing efforts, as well as any potential giveaways, sponsors, and affiliate deals.

Use a quiz as a lead-in:  Everyone needs to know what Friends character they are, which festival goer profile they have, and how much of a superfan they really are of your death metal band.  Start getting to know them by letting them prove it.  As a bonus, if you get a bit techie with the quiz, you can have it segment people by responses and then run ads customized to first-time concert goers versus people that have been following the band for years for example.  And you should do that because if you don’t, it’s a lot like showing up for a second date and calling your date by the wrong name.  Doesn’t guarantee you won’t get a third date, but it’s not a great start.

Use a contest:  Too many promoters think they can get the word out on their own or take an “if you build it they will come” mentality.  There is too much competition, and too much noise in the marketplace for that to work anymore, you need to rally the troops.  A great way to do that is to have a contest and reward people for helping get exposure to your event, and telling all their friends how much they want to go(social proof is a valuable commodity in the modern world).  IMPORTANT:  Make sure whatever you give away relates to your event.  Don’t be that person that gives away an Xbox while trying to promote an event for AARP, just don’t.  There are several apps that can help you run an effective contest that will both help you build a re-marketing list and will also help you get “free” exposure, and more pop up every day.  Google is your friend when finding the right one.

One way to come up with a great contest prize for your live event is to ask yourself, what are your potential attendee’s goals?  Is it an amazing night out?  Make it more amazing with a VIP upgrade that gives them limo service to the event and a dinner with the host(s).  Is it status?  Give them a status upgrade with a high end branded giveaway or picture opportunities with VIP guests and presenters.  Is it a better business?  Give them an opportunity to win a program or package that will make their business amazing.  Anyway, you get the point, just stay away from the Xbox packages unless it’s an e-sports event or a Justin Bieber concert.

Another great way to get more butts in seats is to partner with a charity, especially a charity that already appeals to your target audience.  People love to support charities AND get something for themselves so they can feel extra good, so find a non-profit that already has your audience and create a win-win for them for promoting your event.  Charities also typically have access to local and sometimes high-level corporate leaders and celebrities so scratch their backs and if you are lucky they might just open up their contact list a little.

A similar method with less warm and fuzzies is to use affiliate offers.  Who else has your potential attendees attention AND a better list than you?  Reach out to them, show them your event is high quality, will benefit their followers, and doesn’t take away from their bottom line, and for a fee of course, they will vouch for you to their already pre-qualified audience.  Again, social proof for the win.

If you want to get charities and affiliates really excited, and ticket sales are not your main source of revenue, give them 100% commission on ticket sales.  They are extra attendees you wouldn’t have had otherwise, for free, and if your main revenue is generated at the event, who cares about the ticket sales?

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IMPORTANT:  Whatever you do, make sure you make it dead simple and user-friendly for others to promote and to share your live event.  Nothing is worse than getting a shout out from that celebrity you’ve been wooing for a year only to have them sharing the wrong link or not being able to figure out how to share your sign-up process because it was confusing.

Using scarcity offers and deadlines will both increase and speed up event ticket sales, just be sure to honor the cutoff date.  Nothing will make someone disavow your event faster than paying full price right before the “early bird” pricing gets re-instated.

On a similar note, consider giving early purchasers extra benefits.  Give the first 50 sign-ups VIP tickets with great benefits for free, and guess who will be raving about how excited they are to attend your event, and will continue bragging about their awesome free VIP perks throughout the event itself?

Don’t, however, make the mistake of giving away free tickets.  Free de-values your event, so always get value in exchange for value.  Upgrades and surprises good, free tickets, very bad.

Listing your event on Eventbrite without actually selling tickets on Eventbrite can get you extra exposure from good potential attendees without locking you into Eventbrite’s rules and fees.

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Digital Marketing Agency Charleston WV | Ideation Digital 222 Capitol St Suite 422, Charleston, WV 25301, USA +1 800-538-6950

Easy ways to add money and profit to your live event:

use swag bags: make sure items are quality

Sponsors:  Offer sponsored lunches and seat drops to other businesses who want your audience’s attention

Still need to pitch sponsors for your live event?  Don’t send out anything generic, research their company and show them what’s in it for them.  Give them exclusivity and first right of refusal.  Remember to follow up.  Treat them as if they are special, they are.  Finding CEO’s of major companies on Facebook and following up there works well on follow-ups, but don’t do this as a cold outreach strategy.

Continuation Programs:  Live events are the ideal place to sell an ongoing membership. Who doesn’t want to keep feeling as amazing as they are right now at your live event?  Mentorships, fan clubs, ongoing education programs, VIP groups and memberships are all easy sells and great profit maximizers for your live event.

Want to learn more about what Facebook advertising could do for your business?  Schedule a free marketing consultation with one of our Business Development Specialists HERE