6 Free Event Advertising Tips

Jack Bell

Jack Bell

Editor at What's On Hub
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So you’ve got an event you want to sell tickets for. How do you maximise exposure when utilising free event advertising?

Obviously we’d like to suggest using our website as it’s free and always will be. Plus we already have a ready-made audience, meaning you don’t have to do the work.

Whilst ours is the easiest, there are loads of platforms that offer methods of free event adverting.

However you do it, it won’t be worth it unless you put some smart planning into the process.

If there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s how to advertise an event – it’s what we built our business on. Here’s some free event advertising tips that really sell tickets – based on what we’ve seen work on our site.

 

Headlines are essential for driving traffic in free event advertising

One tip we like to give people listing events on What’s on Hub, or anywhere for that matter, is to always think about your headline. It’s one of the first things users see; it needs to grab their attention quickly otherwise you’re not going to get many clicks.

Fewer clicks mean fewer customers. 

What makes a good headline? 

Often we’ll get listings that say something simple like “restaurant night at [restaurant name]”. We saw this on listings from a retro aviation-themed restaurant. If your restaurant has a theme, use it to your advantage. We recommended calling it an “aviation-themed dining experience.” Make it sound like a unique experience! 

It’s helpful to know your audience. We’ve had listings, particularly from sports clubs that advertise “hospitality” at matches. The public are often unsure what you mean by “hospitality” in that context. Large concert venues for instance might call it a “VIP experience,” which means a lot more to most users. 

Use the characters wisely, don’t put the venue’s name in the headline. Users can already see it in the listing, so there’s no need. The same goes for names of promoters, all too often they cut off the artist’s name by putting “[Promoter] presents…” when this can go in the description.

Keep your headlines short, sweet and interesting. I promise you’ll get better results!

 

Images help you standout amongst the crowd

We’ve had thousands of listings posted on our site this month. But, a common mistake we’ve come across is that all too often, our promoters aren’t always using the best possible media to advertise their event, venue or deal. 

The image you use could make or break the attention it generates on the Hub and is essential in your free event advertising planning.

Too many make the mistake of using an image cluttered with text and information when promoting, even though our site provides plenty of space to write a detailed description. We also see a lot of posters with colours that clash together and aren’t very easy on the eyes. 

To use two cliches, “less is more” and “pictures paint a thousand words”. If you’re advertising a gig for example, don’t cram your image full of dates, times and details. A potential audience is much more likely to respond if they can get some idea of what they can expect to see immediately. Show them the band, the instruments they play, the crowds they pull in. The same goes for theatre shows; show your audience images from the stage, rehearsals, the actors in costume. 

Here’s an example of an event that took place here in Hull. The first picture is a mock-up I made, and the second is what was actually submitted for the event listing. 

Free event advertising tips - cluttered image Free event adverting - quality image

 

The first example has a lot of text on the image, which would be okay if this was a poster that was printed and used as outdoor advertising, but on the site it isn’t necessary. There’s plenty of space for all the essential info in the description, it doesn’t make the most of the opportunity to use an image. 

The second example however, is great! We can see just what’s on offer, and the “BBC Introducing” banner in the background helps to give the band some more credibility. The headline is great too, they’ve put the band name at the start and rather than just going for something as simple as “Christmas Party,” they’ve called it “Late Night Marauders Christmas Shindig.” This helps them differentiate themselves. Plus verifying the listing helps it to stand out a bit more with the green tick.

The more images, the better.

Next time you create a listing on our site, consider an Enhanced Listing to include up to 12 images, as well as embed a video and a thorough description to really sell it to our users. 

 

Description really help sell your event

We sometimes see events on our site that give us a vague image and title, and details of times and location. However, the audience is still left in the dark about the nature of the listing.

The best free event advertising hook us instantly with a punchy opening sentence that grabs our attention. It’s bold and assertive. Then we’re given a flavour of what we can expect to see and do at the event, but not too much. It whets our appetites but doesn’t spoil it. Soon we’re scrolling, eager to find out more, we’re told the event has won awards and that it’s unmissable.  “Where? When?” we’re anxious to know, then five minutes later we’ve booked the tickets and telling our friends and family about this exciting new thing we’re all going to see.

You probably wouldn’t feel like checking out a book or film if you didn’t know what it was about, and the same goes for events. What is it exactly that should make your listing stand out and bring in the crowds it deserves? 

Advertisement

The best listings on What’s On Hub have good descriptions. In a basic listing you have a description available of no more than 600 characters. If you go for our boosted listing or higher, there’s a full description with no limit. 

Descriptions are important even though they aren’t the first thing people see when searching for an event. When they see your event and then click on your listing, they’re already interested and want to know more, it’s very disappointing for a user if they can’t find any more information. They’ll just look for something else. 

Something we see quite often in listings is that the lister uploads a poster full of text, which doesn’t work well on What’s On Hub. They’ll just upload a poster with no other description, which is a shame as the description is there to really sell the event to customers and tell them just what they can expect to experience on the night. 

It’s also important to use good grammar in your description, not only does it look professional, it also helps with Search Engine Optimisation. We recommend Grammarly as a browser extension for Chrome, which will not only fix spelling but improve readability, and will bring your listing up higher priority in Google results.

 

Ticket prices could really influence when your audience buy

There are a couple of our clients who’ve done events in the past and a lot of the time the pricing has not quite been structured right, which sometimes means the event hasn’t sold as well as it could have. 

The first thing we say is you need to have an online ticket option. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling tickets for £3 or £300, you need to provide that convenience.  

Although we aren’t a ticketing platform ourselves, we recommend using a site like Eventbrite or Skiddle, it’s free to list your events and start selling tickets on those sites. 

Something else we recommend is 3 levels of pricing. Let’s say you’re promoting a gig and you’re aiming for £10 a head. Make that your advance price and offer it online. 

Below that, you can offer an early bird discount for those who are willing to commit even sooner (let’s say £6-7). It has to be 30-40% smaller, or they’ll just wait for the advance rate. 

Finally, your on the door price needs to be about 50-100% more than your advance rate. This gives you flexibility on the night. You might worry someone might be unhappy to hear about that pricing, but you can potentially offer them 20% off as you’ve already done the same with your early bird rate. You want to encourage as many advance sales as possible so you can plan properly.

 

Building a reputation helps free event advertising

It could be argued that reputation is everything; it builds trust between you and the punters. There’s no coincidence that most companies, venues and restaurants list their TripAdvisor or Trustpilot scores proudly on the homepage of their websites.

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t go to a restaurant with a 1 star rating, would you?

That’s why we’ve added a section on all of our listings to give users the ability to review your venue/deal/event.

The highest rated events end up on our homepage and the highest rated places climb to the first page of their respective category. So it’s really important to give the punters a great experience to further encourage them to review you as it leads to further exposure.

If you get good ratings, you’re higher up in the listings which equals more visibility. Simple!

If you build up a following of regulars, then you’ll hardly have to pay for advertising as they’ll likely go to whatever event you’re putting on. Then all your marketing becomes free event advertising.

 

Let us do it for you

The problem with free event advertising is that it can be difficult to cut through the noise.

It’s probably not a surprise that we generate our revenue as a business through sponsored listings and paid advertising. That keeps it free for the public to use. It also gives you an opportunity to reach more of our users much faster than the organic method. Our boosted options are genuinely a really good way to reach our audience, much faster to help you sell more tickets.

Event listings are our priority. It’s the thing we’ve been doing the longest, it’s the thing we know most about and it’s also what keeps What’s On Hub very different. When we talk about an event listing we have four options you can choose from.

We have our BASIC listing option which is free, always has been and always will be.

The second option is a PREMIUM listing; we offer the option for you to enhance your listing, this increases your engagement, it won’t necessarily improve the visibility of your event initially in the listings, when users go and search and browse for what’s on.

Your listing will still be in its natural position, the default option is by date. Boosted will still be in that order, but we give you tools to increase your engagement; you can add up to 11 photos to create a nice gallery, you can embed YouTube or Vimeo videos, and you also get a “book now” button as well, which encourages users to buy tickets straight away through whatever link you’ve put on there to buy tickets online, a big recommendation from us.

The next one up there is a FEATURED listing. It gives you the same options as boosts, except the featured will put it at the top of the categories you are a part of and it will stay there for up to 30 days, so post it as early as possible. You’ll get 30 days at the top of your categories positioned on the first page.

The reason that’s so good, is if you’re on page 1 you will get much more visibility. Being on page 1 for a longer period of time gives you more views, and you get more clicks on your listing.

The largest option is our SPOTLIGHT listing, which will put you on the homepage for your region. Say you were listing an event in Leeds, it would also reach the whole of West Yorkshire as well. If you want to get tickets sold really quickly, our sponsored options are really good value.

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