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We would all like to promote our events on a big screen in the middle of Piccadilly Circus or Times Square. Unfortunately, most of these very big and crazy marketing stunts cost a lot of money. However, you don’t always need a lot of money to come up with a strong marketing campaign. In this blogpost we will be looking at some ways that will allow you to promote events while you are on a budget!

How to Rebuild your Online Marketing on a budget:
The examples in this blogpost are mostly focussed on the arts scene. However, they can generally be applied for all types of events.

1. Engage your community and gain some advocates
Hopefully you have some supporters who won’t be too pleased to see you go; you provide a service that people will miss. While you shouldn’t necessarily ask them to put their hands in their pockets and raise your funding for you, you can turn supporters into advocates on social media, letting people know what’s going on.
Most events have volunteers and there is never a shortage of students looking to get their first taste of the event world. If they’re tech-literate enough they can be brought in to maintain websites and current online marketing efforts, let them feel part of the team as some real responsibility will go a long way. You can get your advocates to provide content with blog posts and articles, even videos that you could upload to Youtube if they know how.
If you have an email newsletter, don’t let it suffer as it’s still one of the best ways to direct interested people to your website and you can emphasise the sense of community with suggestions of how people can support you. Suggest to your email subscribers that they should forward the email to their friends.

2. Cut your Advertising Spend or Go Private with your Funding
If you’re currently using paid direct advertising, you could instead look at opportunities for reciprocal or co-operative advertising options. The people who currently sell you advertising space will be concerned to lose a client, so work on suggesting an alternative by considering what else you can offer outside of just your advertising spend. Partnering may be slightly over-ambitious, but people will always listen to a good idea.
Keep your eye out for private companies investing in your field and network within that scene for people who might know who’s offering funding. These benefactors could even be individuals; for example, many contemporary artists have survived off the goodwill of the Guggenheims and Sainsburys of the world.

3. Court the Events Press
The big event listings and broadcast sites will set up arts funding themed pages with a run-down of what’s been happening. Ironically although the arts have taken the biggest hit for a long time, the zeitgeist is with them, so provide them with some positive stories about your upcoming collections or performances. These guys generally want as much content as possible so get in touch to make sure your events are mentioned, you might even consider a press release or two if you’ve got the copywriting skills.

4. Get listed and get your press releases on newswires
If you have a venue, make sure it appears on online directories, event listing websites and on Google Places as well as Local lists of venues. This small scale SEO will help boost your brand online and has a significant advertising value equivalent.

5. Investigate the educational potential of your service
A great example are the larger public galleries and arts institutions (The Tate and Shakespeare’s Globe for example). They already offer some form of educational days for young students, which you might be able to help with. The way into this is providing support to local schools, as once you build some connections with these institutions, others are much more likely to be convinced. From here, partnering with those schools might be practical.
Foreign schools with students from continental Europe and the Far East are also often visiting Britain during the summer and looking for cultural pursuits; it may be worth your while looking up foreign language schools in the UK or the large agencies that bring lots of children to Britain on study holidays every year.

6. Make use of your whole venue and look out for commissions
If you have any spare  space, rent it out. On the other hand, if your institution works with active artists or performers, perhaps providing studio or gallery support, then the artists might be able to contribute some creative efforts (even professional non-arts skills, depending upon whether they have other careers, or not). A quick search online turns up many comapnies looking to commision artworks, these people are potentially more open to sponsoring your continued development.

7. Engage your community and strengthen your brand with your Facebook Page
You should keep posting regular, meaningful updates about your upcoming events and news on your Facebook Page and engage anyone who comments as these are potential customers or even advocates. A little Facebook page ‘moderation’ like on a message board, can go a long way. Let people get in touch with you on Facebook, making it a first port-of-call if they have requests.
You could also consider selling tickets through there with one of the online ticket selling websites. For more on online ticket selling services, see our blog post How to Sell Tickets to Events Online.

8. Host more regular, small-scale events
The capacity for many arts venues to generate revenue often suffers because they only have so many shows a year, that require a lot of work to put together, be it at theatres or art galleries. The way around this is to host talks by artists or lecturers and professors at local institutes of higher education. You should also contact Alumni associations of relevant nearby institutions of higher education for potential connections.

9. Keep up the Twitter momentum
Twitter was huge for the #artsfunding debate and news, you can still build on that momentum, by turning your Twitter account into a relevant news source on arts related topics, while still boosting the profile of your own services. You should build on the visual aspect of your brand; your logo – so that it remains strong in peoples’ minds. This will help you maintain a strong identity in the event that you’re forced to move venue.

10. Reach out to the arts blogosphere
Remember that many people will be in a similar situation, and there are countless theatre, arts and cultural blogs that will share your concerns about be sympathetic. You probably already have good relationships with many of the leading arts journalists, but it’s worth connecting with bloggers too!

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