Last-Minute Event Marketing Strategies to Boost Registrations

Your event is coming up and you’re worried you won’t sell out. This is one of the most stressful parts of event planning, especially if your margins are small and you need every penny to cover your event budget and pay yourself.

Don’t worry! You haven’t lost those spots yet. There’s still some time to secure a few more registrations, but you’ll have to switch from long-term strategies (like content marketing, video marketing, or email marketing) to short-term, last-minute event marketing strategies that will carry you through.

Free download: Cold Outreach Plan to Secure Last-Minute Event Registration

Strategy #1: Leverage Your Participants

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to get as much promotion out of your speakers, presenters, and sponsors as possible. They all probably have their own audiences full of people that may like to attend your event.

Ideally, this kind of collaborative promotion should be a part of your agreement with each participant. For instance, you should require your speakers to promote your event to receive their full fee. Or you could offer discounts on event sponsorship packages for promoting you.

Your event is coming up! It's time to switch from long-term strategies to short-term tactics to fill those last spots. Click To Tweet

If you haven’t asked your participants to promote you, ask for their help during the last days or weeks before the event. You may have to offer an incentive to sweeten the deal, like a bonus fee or free stuff at your event.

Make sure to be specific with your promotion requirements so there is no confusion. You might require one social media post per day during the two weeks before the event. Or you might require them to send at least three email newsletters about their appearance at your event.

You can get the most help from your participants if you make their lives as easy as possible. Instead of asking for generic promotions, give them everything they need to blast out your message. Supply them with copy, images, video, print assets, and anything else they need to help you spread the word.

Strategy #2: Leverage Your Attendees

People who have already registered are another great source of new registrations. They likely have friends, family, and colleagues who would like to attend. You just need your attendees to encourage them to attend.

How do you get your registrants to promote for you? Pay them! A little incentive is often all people need to help you out. Create simple tier-based rewards for bringing you registrations. For example:

  • If they bring you one registration, they receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
  • If they bring you three registrations, they receive a $100 Amazon gift card
  • If they bring you 10 registrations, receive a $400 Amazon gift card.

Obviously, you’ll need to make sure your reward program doesn’t end up costing you more than the new registrations collect in revenue, but you get the idea. You should also consider offering non-monetary incentives, like products and services from your customers.

This is a great strategy to use if you have any influential people attending your event who have their own audiences they can reach out to. Reward them for signing people with perks and discounts on their registration costs.

Strategy #3: Get Aggressive on Social Media

Event marketing strategies

The last days and weeks before your event are not the time to be shy on social media. You may have avoided bombarding your audience with content in the past, but now it’s time to build more hype, fill their feed with information about your event, and push them to register.

How much should you post? It depends on the social media platform. On Facebook and Instagram, you should be posting at least two or three times each day. On Twitter, you should be tweeting and retweeting more than 20 times each day. Make sure to use your event hashtag every time you post.

You should also seriously consider using paid advertising to sell your remaining registration spots. In the beginning, it was smart to fill as many spots as possible using organic promotions that don’t cost anything, but selling last-minute tickets with some paid ads is better than leaving those spots open.

Strategy #4: Start Cold Outreach

You may find this strategy difficult, but it’s necessary if your event is right around the corner and you still have open slots. Cold outreach is a great way to interact with people who haven’t been exposed to your marketing. It’s also a good way to connect with people who have been exposed to your marketing but have objections or questions you can address.

Cold outreach doesn’t mean calling random people and asking them to buy tickets to your event. It means reaching out to specific people who are likely interested in your event’s topic and have the means and budget to attend.

The first people you should reach out to are those who have shown interest in your event but never converted to attendees. Call or email people who attended your previous events and anyone on your contact list.

Next, reach out to places where you can secure multiple registrations. For example, if you’re hosting an event for database administrators, you should call companies who employ them. Offer them a special discount or package for a group registration. Many companies will pay to send their people to events, especially if there’s education involved.

Strategy #5: Accept Day-of Registrations

Event marketing strategies

If your event is just a few days away and you still haven’t secured all of your registrations, you’ll want to notify your audience that they can register the day of the event. Day-of admittance is great for people who can’t commit to attending your event until the very last minute.

Send an email to your list, post on social media, and notify all of your affiliates that guests can register and pay at the door on event day. You will also need to prepare a special day-of registration procedure to quickly process new registrations. If you sent your guests any pre-event materials, you’ll need to have those printed for new registrants or loaded into your custom event app.

A word of warning about day-of registrations: You probably have limitations that cap the number of people you can invite. For instance, you can only feed so many people and your event venue probably has a fire code limit. So you’ll need to be prepared to turn people away at the door if too many show up for your event.

Warning: Don’t Discount Last-Minute Tickets

We’ve given you five strategies to help you boost last-minute registrations, but we also want to give you a word of warning that will protect your brand and your event.

If you’re desperate to fill your event, you might be tempted to discount your registrations to sell those spots. Bringing in half of a ticket’s price is better than none at all, right? After all, your costs are probably locked in at this point. It’s not like empty spots will save money, so at first glance, it may seem like any amount of revenue helps.

Unfortunately, registration discounts aren’t that simple. If you give away too many, you could devalue your brand. People will come to expect the discounted price as the event’s true value and wait until you start discounting before they buy or refuse the full price entirely.

Furthermore, discounts can cause problems among your guests who paid full price. If full price guests learn about the discounts, they may feel cheated for registering early. No one enjoys feeling ripped off, so there’s a chance some – and maybe many – people will complain and ask for a partial refund. That could be disastrous to your bottom line.

If you feel like you have to give something away to secure last-minute registrations, use non-monetary forms of compensation. For example, you might upgrade last-minute guests to your VIP package, set up a meet and greet with one of your speakers, or give them a specially made gift bag.

Desperate to fill those last event spots? Follow this cold outreach plan to directly contact people who may be interested in attending your event.

Going Forward

The strategies we’ve outlined above will help you secure some last-minute registrations for your event, but don’t stress yourself if you fail to sell every ticket. Go into event day with enthusiasm and host the same high-quality event you always intended.

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