Imagine: You have a great idea for an event. You spend months planning, finding the perfect experts to round out your panel, testing out different broadcasting options, and making sure everything goes off without a hitch. You create your registration page, and you wait.
And then, the date draws closer. Registrations are creeping up, but maybe not in the way that you hoped. You know your audience is out there, but how can you find them?
Boston is a special city with a booming innovation industry and lots of activity. But, even the most carefully crafted events need to be marketed. Your event will be one of many happening in Boston in any given week. And with virtual events, audiences have more options than ever right at their fingertips.
You’ve got to stand out, and the best way to do that is to make sure your event is seen by your intended audience.
So where do you start? We can help! CIC knows innovation, and we’ve compiled a list of the five best event promotion channels in Boston for innovators.
Why is Promotion Important?
It’s easy to default to, “if you build it they will come.” But with all the demands on folks’ time in the innovation and startup fields, you shouldn’t assume your audience will find you. You have to find them.
Your event posting is an opportunity to make an impression on your audience, and possibly their first insight into your brand, product, or idea. Events bring your brand to life. They can educate, connect, and inspire your audience. And that begins from the moment your audience learns about the event.
This guide to promoting virtual events goes even deeper into the why and how of event promotion.
Pro-tip: Don’t wait until the last minute to promote your event.
You’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time for promotion. People’s calendars fill up quickly, and many of the people in your target audiences are busy. Give them the opportunity to fit your event into their schedules by notifying people earlier, rather than later. And, with the specific channels we share below, there may be some lead time from when you submit an event for promotion and when that content gets shared. (For example, if you’re posting to a public calendar where the site curator may compile events into a newsletter, they’re likely gathering content well in advance.)
Begin your promotion at least three weeks prior to the event. The longer, the better to make sure your attendees have time to find out about the event and plan accordingly — and you’ll want to follow up as the date gets closer, to make sure that your eager participants don’t forget to come!
Determining the Right Promotion Channels
Revisiting the same calendars time and time again to share your event doesn’t hurt, but it can limit your ability to grow your audience because your content isn’t being seen by new potential participants. To expand your audience, you have to expand your reach. And as an event organizer, you’re busy — you want to make sure that your marketing is the most impactful it can be.
When considering channels through which to market your event, consider their specialty or particular audiences. For example, some Boston calendars focus on social events and activities going on around the city. They’re great for learning about pop-up markets and your local brewery’s trivia night, and posting to these types of calendars certainly couldn’t hurt. But if you’re hoping to market an event all about scaling your startup, you’ll want to make sure you also promote through some more specific avenues where innovators and entrepreneurs gather.
You may also let the location guide you. If your audience is co-located in a specific part of town, there may be a local business association that promotes events there. Getting your event included on their calendar or in their newsletter is a great place to start. Further, if your event takes place in that neighborhood, it’ll be more convenient for your audience to picture attending your event and work it into their schedules. For example, Kendall Square is known for its booming biotech scene. If your event fits into this industry, you’ll want to make sure you’re tapping into any local resources to get the word out about your event.
Another component to think about is where your audience gets their news. Are they in the startup or innovation sector? Look for a roundup newsletter and sources that might highlight what folks in the community are up to — successes, developments, resources.
CIC’s Top 5 Promotion Channels for Innovation Events
Drumroll, please! In no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of the top five calendars to consider in your event promotion.
All calendars have an option to submit your own event for inclusion, but remember, the site curator will ultimately decide whether or not your event is a good fit for their site.
This site is a great aggregator for job seekers in the Boston startup and tech community, and they also have an events calendar for these relevant industries. You can expect this to be a tool that job seekers, hiring companies, and people interested in tech/startups will visit regularly. If your event is tech specific, this events calendar is a great place to start!
Add your event to the BuiltInBoston calendar: Start here. Scroll down to “Add Event” on the left-hand sidebar. You’ll be prompted to sign in or create a free account to add your event to their listings.
Tip: If you have a Meetup group, you can automatically sync calendars so that BuiltInBoston’s events show up on your group’s event calendar as well. Cross-promotion for the win!
As mentioned, Kendall Square is the heart of Boston innovation. Boasting a membership of over 150 local organizations, and a stone’s throw from MIT, the Kendall Square Association (KSA) is an effective channel for anyone interested in promoting events taking place in “the most innovative square mile on the planet.” From local transportation initiatives, supporting small businesses, and developments in the biotech industry, the KSA is a comprehensive resource for folks whose work, education, or home life takes them into Kendall Square. Make no mistake, though: their reach extends into the greater Cambridge and Boston innovation community as well!
Add your event to the KSA calendar: Start here. The bar at the top of the screen has a button on the far right to add an event.
Tip: Include an eye-catching photo that represents your program and gets your audience’s attention. Don’t have a photo? There are lots of free stock photo sites to choose from!
Similarly to the KSA, the Boston BID allows any businesses in zip codes 02108, 02109, 02110, and 02111 to post events to their website. As a hub for financial services and technology, this is a great opportunity to reach Boston locals, local businesses, and visitors to the Downtown Boston area.
Add your event to the Boston BID calendar: Start here. The “+” icon on the right-hand side of the screen allows you to submit your event.
Tip: Sign up for their newsletter to find out what else is happening in the community. You may be inspired to join forces on future projects!
Under the wider umbrella of AmericanInno, BostInno is a great local source for news and updates on the startup, entrepreneurial, and innovation scene in Boston. Their daily digest, “The Beat,” gives readers a quick look into the most up-to-date news, resources, and events happening in the community, and is a great roundup of current stories.
Add your event to the BostInno calendar: Start here. Under “Events Directory,” select “Post an Event.”
Tip: If your budget allows and you want an extra boost, you can also choose to “Feature your Event,” which brings it to the top of the events directory and features it on BostInno’s event map.
For the past four years, Startup Boston has hosted an annual five-day program in Boston that brings together 3,000+ attendees for 70+ events. In the move to an entirely virtual 2020 program, they solidified themselves as trailblazing leaders for the startup community in Boston. Startup Boston now supports programming year-round to bring together entrepreneurs, startup employees, mentors, advisors, investors, and anyone touched by the innovative local community.
Add your event to the Startup Boston calendar: Start here. Scroll down to submit your event.
Tip: Tag any co-hosts, presenters, or partnered organizations in your social media posts to more easily prompt them to engage. Posts with high engagement rise to the top of followers’ feeds and make it more likely that your event will get noticed.
Plug Into Your Local Innovation Center
Promotion is one of the most important components of your event, and with these resources, we hope you’ll be able to easily reach and expand your audiences. We know you have great ideas, so go get the word out there!
And sometimes, you don’t need to travel far to share your event. CIC will promote events with educational and relevant content with our innovation community. To share your event, fill out our promotion request form, or visit our Boston events calendar to see upcoming programming.
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