Event Marketing or Marketing Events?

The Best Event Marketing Strategies - No Budget Required!

Event Marketing continuously evolves. But you don't need deep pockets to keep up with it...

No-Budget Event Marketing Strategies That Work

We need to get one thing out of the way right out of the gate. Even though we’re discussing free event marketing strategies, promoting and advertising your business is never free.  It takes time, money, or both.

Instead of covering how to spend your marketing budget, we’re going to focus on what we do best, and that’s complimentary marketing and promotion.

OTL Seat Fillers has provided free event marketing to arts and entertainment communities for more than seven years. And, you can be sure that we’ll include a link so that you can take advantage of our free services. But it’s the combination of approaches that leads to marketing and promotional success.

Instead of pulling out your credit card, your to-do list might get much longer. However, the results will be well worth it!

road to success, successful marketing techniques, successful event marketing

Advertising, Marketing, and Event Marketing

First, let’s start with the differences between promotional techniques.

Advertising:  The activity of producing and placing promotional announcements or printed materials (print, radio, virtual, TV, etc.) for your business. It’s rare to come across free advertising.

Marketing: Attracting an audience through messaging. It’s the overall approach to getting the word out, and advertising falls under the marketing umbrella. Marketing techniques cover both free and paid campaigns.

Event Marketing:  Some marketing purists would disagree, but event marketing has two definitions.

  • Using an interactive and real-time event or experience to promote a product or service. For example, a car dealership holds an outdoor barbeque or festival to attract guests to the dealership. Or, you visit a stadium, and there’s a booth for credit card sign-ups.
  • Promoting the event itself, whether for a play, concert, fair, festival, sporting event, or other physical or virtual entertainment or experience.

While event marketing falls under the marketing umbrella, advertising can also be part of the picture. But, as we mentioned, we’ll set aside any outlay of cash and focus on free and effective event marketing strategies. Event marketers need to think out of the box these days. So many businesses and services are attempting to reopen with limited resources.

Number One on Your List Should Be Building One

One of the best event marketing techniques that won’t cost a dime is to build a list. Now that sounds simple, but it’s one of the more challenging and never-ending responsibilities for today’s marketing and event marketing specialists.

We started by mentioning that effective promotion requires either time or money. Building a list is time-consuming but well worth it. As you review the following activities, please understand that it requires dedication and consistency to work.  And this is a long-term strategy, not something that will work overnight in most instances.

How to Build an Event Marketing List

Before we get into specifics, there’s one thing that you need to remember, and that’s building a list typically requires multiple sources. It’s the combination of efforts that leads to list-building success.

A Few Mailing List Opt-in Ideas

Don’t forget always to ask permission, but gather up emails everywhere you can:

  • During your ticket sales process
  • When patrons check-in for your events
  • Send a greeter to work the crowd at your events – iPad in hand
  • Hold a raffle or sweepstakes (Note: if you’re holding it online, we highly recommend RafflePress)
  • A dedicated page on your website
  • An exit-intent popup – so visitors are prompted to add their email before they leave your site
  • Social media
  • Ads on social media leading to your website opt-in form
  • Landing page

Using your Awesome Marketing List

Whether you have ten or 10,000 emails on your list, you’ll want to strike a welcome balance when it comes to using them.

  • Don’t neglect your list – send the occasional update
  • Don’t overdo it, either – inundating people with too many emails could turn a list of ten to zero in a heartbeat

Proper (and free) ways to use your marketing list:

  • Promote your upcoming events, activities, or highlight a service
  • Send links to your latest blog posts
  • Email direct ticket sales links – one-click purchase options
email marketing, emails for event marketing, online marketing

How You Email is as Important as What You Email

We want to stick to free event marketing strategies. So, while there are plenty of top-notch email services, our picks for your top two complimentary options are:

1. Mailchimp Free Plan

2. Webmail


MailChimp is like the gold standard for email campaigns. The chimp can be your best friend for creating beautiful emails and tracking each and every one of them. It abides by strict opt-in rules. But that ensures proper delivery.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a massive email opt-in list, then MailChimp turns into a paid service. But it’s free up to 2,000 contacts. Another benefit is that you can link your email opt-ins to MailChimp, so you don’t have to manage your own lists.


The second suggestion applies if you want to keep everything in your hands without using an outside service.

You can certainly email a few people at a time on your list. But without a dedicated email marketing service, you run the risk of spam emails or even having your account locked. So, we have a short-term suggestion.

Instead of using Gmail, turn to webmail. You won’t have quite as many restrictions and if your email is established, you shouldn’t run the risk of spamming unless you go overboard and email people who haven’t opted in. Just be sure to use BCC if you’re sending to more than one recipient.

Let Other Services Do the Work for You

Once you get into the thousands with your email list, though, you’ll want to consider a service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or GetResponse.

content is king, content marketing

Your Second Marketing and Event Marketing Strategy - Content is King

You’ll find that in our new virtual world, content is king. But the definition of content isn’t just text-related. Today’s content covers audio, visual, and written word.

While creating content takes time, it’s another free marketing and event marketing strategy that’s effective and can be used more than once.

Fortunately, you can create a strategy to repurpose a central piece of content across many channels.  You’ll find that it’s important because people have different preferences for consuming content.

promoting events, content marketing

Three Content Channels for Event Marketers

1. Podcasts

Short 15-minute audio recordings a couple of times a week can attract your ideal patron. You could begin by answering the questions you hear from your customers regularly or bringing in guests to interview. There are many ways to structure a podcast.

2. YouTube

Video is also king right now.  If you provide a service, you may consider creating some how-to videos. If you’re marketing shows and events, teasers should do the trick. You could give a glimpse of backstage, some bloopers, or part of your rehearsals.

Or, as with the podcast, do a show and tell, answering questions. All you need is a cell phone with a camera and a YouTube account to start.

3. Blog

Having a blog on your website is a great way to get traffic.  Again, start by jotting down your top 50 questions and answer them once per week.  There is a year’s worth of content!

Event marketers tend to think of more grassroots or in-person approaches, but there are plenty of things you can share in your blog. Plus, you can link to your ticket sales page and ask readers to opt-in to your valuable email list.

Don't Forget the Call to Action

An essential component of all content creation is to have a CALL TO ACTION on every post, video, or podcast. Offer free content, like an eBook, how-to video series, or just a checklist, that you can exchange for their email address.

Or, just ask. Many people want to know what’s happening with your show, event, service, or activity and are willing to share their email – but you have to ask for it.

effective marketing strategy, effective event marketing strategy

A 5-Minute-a-Day Marketing and Event Marketing Strategy

Listening to your audience's questions allows you to gather market research and gives you all the seeds you need for your content strategy and marketing approach.

Here is one way to do it if you only have a few minutes a day.

1. Begin by conducting a 3-5 minute Facebook Live where you answer one question. Some people do this while driving to the office, and others do it while on their morning walk.  Is there something you do every day where this can fit?

2. Send the video to an online transcriber (free or very inexpensive) to get a text version of the video.

3. Save your Facebook live video and post to your blog with the text.

4. Post the video to your YouTube channel and LinkedIn using the same description and title.

5. Post some of the text into a Facebook post and link to an article on your blog.

6. Link to a blog post from Twitter and other social media accounts.

7. Be sure to have a call to action on your blog to capture emails.

8. Each day, send a text version of the video with a link to the video to your growing list.

Doing this consistently, along with an email campaign, will allow you to bring in revenue without buying ads.

new approach to event marketing, event marketing idea

Turn to Something New

We told you we’d be including seat filling on our list. But you might not know why it’s an effective event marketing tool that should be in your toolbox.

Seats Filled and Concession Sales

To start, event marketers with formal ticketed events (theatre, comedy, music, etc.) have partnered with OTL for more than seven years. It’s a free, private, and easy way to fill some seats.

Yes, the shows need to provide complimentary tickets for seat fillers. However, they reap the benefit of a larger audience, plus increased concessional sales, parking, and other income. OTL doesn’t publicly promote the names of its partners, so regular sales aren’t impacted.

Now, you don’t need a ticketed offering to work with seat fillers. Maybe you have a yoga class and want to introduce some new students. Why not privately invite seat fillers? You can set the parameters (the day of the week, specific time, etc.).

Seat Filling Beyond Ticketed Events

OTL seat fillers love all kinds of fun things to do. So, the sky’s the limit.

Plays and musicals

Comedy shows

Concerts and other music events




Book signings

TV or other fillings

Preview and media events

Museum passes


Sporting events

Fairs and festivals

Conferences or expos

Media events

Dinner shows

Theme parks

Escape rooms

Dance lessons

Hair and nail services

Gym memberships

Golf, Bowling, Go-Karts

Cruises and day tours

Casino events

Other Free Resources for Event Marketers

We’ve covered building email lists and using them, content marketing, a ten-minute daily practice, and seat filling.

So far, the price tag for all marketing resources has been zero.

But there are other free event marketing tools to consider:

  • Press releases – even though they’re not as common these days, they could shine the spotlight on your local event
  • News stations’ community calendars
  • Call or email a local entertainment reporter
  • Respond to HARO requests – HARO is Help a Reporter Out and a great way to get some publicity or share your expertise