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Event Marketing
6 September 2023 

21 Outside-the-box and Creative Event Promotion Ideas

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
21 Outside-the-box and Creative Event Promotion Ideas

In a world saturated with events, webinars, and workshops — on top of work, family, and self-care — standing out is more challenging than ever. How do you rise above the clamor and ensure your event doesn’t just become another date on a crowded calendar? What are creative ways to promote an event that everyone else isn’t already doing?

Dive in as we unravel the essence of event promotion and unveil game-changing strategies that will capture attention and ignite excitement and anticipation for your event. Ready to transform your event from just another event listing to the talk of the town? Let’s get started!

What is event promotion?

Event promotion is the art and science of elevating an event’s visibility and appeal to a target audience. It encompasses a range of strategies and tactics designed to generate buzz, drive attendance, and ensure the event’s success. 

Beyond mere announcements, effective event promotion engages potential attendees, offering them compelling reasons to participate and ensuring they are well informed about what to expect. 

In an age where professionals are inundated with information and choices, standout event promotion is crucial to cut through the noise and capture attention. Now, let’s dive into 21 creative ways to promote an event!

Outside-the-box Event Promotion Ideas and Examples

How do you ensure your next event shines bright and reaches its registration goals? It’s all about creative promotion. Whether on a shoestring budget or ready to make a big-budget splash, the right promotional strategy can be a game-changer. Let’s turn your event into the must-attend occasion of the year!

1. Send Mystery Boxes to Key Leads or Customers

Although we’re talking about outside-the-box ideas, this one is very much inside the box! If there are customers, leads, or particular people you want to attend your event, you may need to go the extra mile to secure their registration. Send out mystery boxes with intriguing items related to the event — or swag — to build anticipation and curiosity.

2. Promote continuing education and other certifications

Highlight the opportunity for attendees to earn professional development credits or certifications by attending specific sessions. Ask partner organizations to share the event and opportunities with their members.

3. Send Personalized Video Invitations 

Use platforms like Cameo to have celebrities or influencers send personalized video invites to key invitees like customers, high-value leads, and others. Or ask your high-powered keynotes or speakers to record personalized video invites that you (or they) can send out.

4. Create a Collaborative Playlist

You’re probably wondering how this works to promote your event, right? Start by creating a Spotify playlist for your event. Add songs your speakers choose and keynotes or songs tied to the event’s theme. Then, invite attendees to add their favorite tracks — or submit them for vetting first — to foster community engagement. 

5. Ship Prospective Attendees Edible Invitations

Want to create a real, lasting impression? Send high-value perspective attendees something edible! The experience of eating uses multiple senses to create memories, which means you’ll always be on your invitees’ minds. 

So, if you’re looking for a truly outside-the-box idea — and you have a budget — send chocolate bars, cookies, or other branded edible treats with event details printed on the packaging or the food item itself.

6. Promote Wearable Event Technology 

Today’s attendees are hungry for high-tech event experiences that deliver more value than traditional events. Ensure your event features wearable event tech, like the Klik SmartBadge™, and then use the tech to entice people to register. New tech creates powerful FOMO, so lean hard into any new technologies you’re using.  

klik smartbadge

7. Create Exclusive Pre-event Networking Communities

Set up a private Facebook group or Slack channel for registrants to connect, discuss topics, and share their excitement before the event. Tease to these exclusive groups on the registration page and in your emails to invitees. Just be sure that you have someone on your team managing these communities and keeping the conversation active so it has value for participants. 

8. Leverage Past Event Content for Sizzle Reels and Buy-in Materials 

Use clips from previous events, testimonials, and highlights to create a compelling video that showcases the value of attending. Or, create an infographic featuring the specifics about the last event to help prospective attendees get buy-in to attend. For example, include the number of attendees, types of industries and companies, and other helpful information. 

Also include testimonials and user-generated content from past attendees on your event website to show prospective attendees that real people attend your events and real people love your events. Here’s a great example of a testimonial from the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum:

event promotion testimonial example from gartner

9. Tap Industry Influencers and Event Speakers To Promote the Event

Collaborate with industry influencers to share event details on their social media platforms or blogs, amplifying reach. Create social media images and copy for speakers to copy and paste on their social media easily. 

Pro tip: Don’t hesitate to incentivize influencers and speakers to promote your event. A simple Starbucks gift card can go a long way. 

10. Offer Segmented Discounts and Promotions

Provide early bird discounts for the first 100 registrants or special offers for returning attendees. Or offer group discounts to get more people from target businesses to attend together (increasing the chances of lead generation). Give registrants a unique URL to promote the event on their social channels and reward them with gift cards, exclusive 1:1 with keynote speakers, or special swag. 

11. Livestream Event Prep and Behind-the-scenes Content 

Use platforms like Instagram or Facebook to showcase live event preparations, interviews with speakers, or venue tours. Or, start a challenge on TikTok or Instagram, encouraging users to recreate a specific dance or scene related to your event and offering free tickets to the most creative entries.

You can also create pre-event podcast episodes featuring event speakers, vendors, sponsors, and exhibitors. Then, parlay recorded sessions from your event to use in the promotion of future events or as part of your 365-day marketing strategy. 

12. Create Content Specifically for First-time Attendees

Whether you livestream Q&A or host a webinar for potential first-time attendees, offering content that promotes your event to a new and broad audience is essential. After years of people avoiding in-person events, it’s important to remind people who haven’t been to your event in years or for first-time attendees to understand what your event is all about. 

One of the things we did this year — and we’re doing more of it for IMEX America — this October is to focus on giving guidance to those first-time attendees. So we did some webinars pre-show for them. We also had some guided tours for them on the first morning. And we have a page on our website now dedicated to first-time attendees to give them a bit of an idea of how to prepare.
Carina Bauer

13. Crowdsource Sessions and Activations from Potential Attendees

Use tools like Typeform or Google Forms to gather input on topics, speakers, or activities attendees want to see. If you offer sessions and activations that your attendees want, they’re more likely to register for your event. 

14. Use email segmentation to reach high-interest prospects

If a prospect clicks on the event registration link but still needs to complete the process, send them a personalized follow-up email within 48 hours highlighting the benefits of attending. 

How? Duplicate most of the content in the original email, but change up the intro and subject lines to ensure the reader knows that you saw them engaging and want them to follow through.

15. Host Pop-up Events

Host mini versions of your event in unexpected locations, like parks or subway stations, to generate buzz and register people on the spot. This tactic won’t work for every type of event, but if you’re planning a flagship event or have some big-ticket speakers, this tactic has legs.

16. Gamify outreach with internal teams to drive registrants

Create competition among your sales or marketing teams by rewarding those who drive the most registrations. Set up Slack channels and a leaderboard so everyone can see whose UTM links drive the most registrations. A great incentive for this type of campaign is a day off or half-day off. 

17. Choose diverse speakers and keynotes to extend your event’s reach

Ensure your speaker lineup represents a mix of genders, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds to appeal to a broader audience. The more your attendees see themselves in your lineup during event promotion, the more likely they are to register.

the guide to building a DE&I-driven event strategy

18. Leverage Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Send out VR headsets to key attendees, allowing them to experience a virtual tour of the event venue or a teaser of the main event. Or, design posters that come to life when scanned with an AR app, showcasing event highlights or speaker introductions.

19. Add an Interactive Chatbot to Your Event Site

Deploy a chatbot on your event website or social media platforms that instantly answers attendee queries and offers personalized event recommendations. The faster a potential registrant answers their question, the faster that person becomes an attendee. 

20. Build a Collaborative Art Installation

You can get creative with your marketing ideas for events depending on where your gathering will be and the theme or goal. For example, set up a mural or art piece in a public space where passersby can contribute, all while promoting the event.

21. Craft a Personalized Storybook Invitation

Okay, we have another very outside-the-box promotion idea that requires a bit of budget, creativity, and planning — but the outcome could be an attendee who turns into a customer or event evangelist. 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  • Transform the event details into a short, illustrated storybook. (You can print them, but we recommend going virtual here to preserve your budget.) 
  • Each page would provide information about the event in a narrative format, making the invitee the story’s protagonist. 
  • As the “hero,” they embark on a journey, meeting event speakers as characters, exploring session topics as challenges or quests, and discovering the benefits of attending as rewards or treasures. 
  • The story concludes with an invitation to join the real adventure by attending the event.

Make Event Promotion Meaningful: Get To Know Your Attendees

Promoting an event creatively is crucial in today’s competitive landscape because attendees are more picky than ever. They’re juggling time away from family and work, shrinking travel budgets, and the struggle to get buy-in from key stakeholders. 

By leveraging these marketing ideas for events and thinking outside the box, organizers can ensure their event not only garners attention but also delivers a memorable experience for attendees. Remember, the key to successful event promotion lies in understanding your audience, being innovative, and continuously adapting to the ever-evolving marketing landscape.

Want to ensure your event’s promotional efforts are personalized to your audience? Instead of throwing all the promotional ideas at the wall to see what sticks, read this: “6 Steps for Mapping a Meaningful Event Attendee Journey.” 

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