How far in advance do you promote your event?
Short answer: As soon as you set your date.
The longer answer:
Marketing your event takes longer than you think. So sending out a “Save the Date” email to your list as soon as you set a date and posting some social media updates serves 2 purposes. It tell people you are hosting an event, so it promotes your event, and it serves to create a hard deadline. Nothing like a public announcement to hold you accountable.
I have never once heard anyone tell me, “Next time, I am going to start my promotions later.” Usually, the very first thing people say after their event, is that they are going to start promoting their event earlier.
The only exception to this might be one of my clients, who had her marketing plan in place about a year in advance. She had a timeline with mini-launches for the entire year and she started seeding a year in advance. At no point was she panicked that she wasn’t going to sell out her event. And I don’t think she will start marketing her event any sooner the next time. But she won’t start any later either!
Sooner Is Better Than Later
I am not saying that you need to start a year in advance, but sooner is always better than later. Timing is an important key in promoting your workshop.
For an introductory workshop that lasts a couple or 3 hours, you do not need too much lead time. 4-8 weeks of well targeted promotion is usually sufficient. It doesn’t take much planning ahead to get out of the office for a few of hours or get someone to watch the kids.
If you start marketing it much further out than that, people may sign up and forget about it and not show. Or, they will think that they will sign up closer to the event, because something else may come along. And then they forget about it. 4-8 weeks is perfect to get it on their calendar, get them to sign up and show up.
Larger Events Take More Time To Promote
If you are planning a larger event that requires a larger investment of time and money, and that will have people coming from out of town, you want to start marketing way ahead of time. You may not want to sell tickets right away, but you want to get it on people’s calendar and get them excited about it. Then about 3-4 months out you hit the event promotions hard.
And I must say, these promotional cycles are getting longer. A few years ago, it would take only 2-4 weeks for an intro workshop and 60-90 days for a bigger event. The lead times are getting longer and it takes a bit more work to fill your events.
If you want to draw people from all over the nation, you’ll want to start seeding at least 6 months in advance. You can start dropping hints and even do a “Save The Date” campaign. You can get people excited about the upcoming event. You then continue with your “Early Bird” campaign, where you try to fill seats at a reduced price, or offer special bonuses for signing up early.
Then you graduate to the full fledged promotional campaign and hit it hard.