I can do this. I once promoted a dinner party that got 15 people. So, I just need to do that again, times 100.
August 17, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I suddenly find myself in a position where I am trying to promote an event to get thousands of participants. But I have never promoted an event before, and I have no budget! Help me get some ideas on how to get the word out.

The event is a Hybrid (e.g. local and worldwide) Skillshare course that I'm teaching (on how to make a website). The minimum number of participants that Skillshare suggests is 1,000. I've never had to find my own students before, so it's terrifying--I'm not sure of how many people I could even get locally to sign up, let alone around the world.

Ok, I lied about budget, but I'm guessing most of my budget will go towards my venue, since I'm only charging $5 per participant. So any money spent on advertising must be really well targeted, and I've never done advertising like this before so I have no clue where to start.

Please help me come up with some strategies to promote my class both locally and in cities all over the place.

Just to show you how bad at this I am, here are some examples of the promotional activities that have occurred to me so far:

Locally (LA):
- Facebook spamming my friends
- Flyers in coffee shops and school bulletin boards
- Going downtown on my lunch break and shoving flyers in the faces of people who walk by (is there a way to do this that won't make everyone--including me--hate me?)
- Dressing entirely in meat to some public event to drum up publicity (the mechanics of how this sort of promotion works baffle me).

- Craigslist advertisements
- Asking far-away friends to talk to their friends
- Starting a Twitter account that people love to follow to drum up publicity (the mechanics of how this sort of promotion works baffle me #butclearlyitdoes)

Well, that's it. I'm sure you have better ideas than me. No really, I'm sure of it.
posted by brenton to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Mod note: Link removed, fine to ask for advice but not okay to link to a thing you're trying to promote.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2012

College Campuses! Seriously, it must be every other day at school that I hear people complaining about the lack of real comp sci courses, where you learn, you know, applicable things.

This actually seems to be a trending problem in schools throughout the country.

Hell, put the link in your profile and I might even sign up.
posted by lobbyist at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2012

Response by poster: Ah, sorry about the link, I can see how it was a bit "self promotey," though it was actually a link to a local-only course that isn't even sign-up-able. (I'm not complaining about it being removed, I just want to be clear that I really wasn't trying to violate mefi rules!)

Hm, I was just about to describe the course, in lieu of the link, to help people answer my question, but now I'm worried that could be self-promotion as well. I'll just stick with the question as it is now.
posted by brenton at 10:01 AM on August 17, 2012

-Find sponsors to help you with the budget.
-Find a venue that is interested in your class.
-Find relevant meetup groups and reach out to their lists.
-Find a way to do something for someone else so they will do something for you (build something online for someone with a large twitter following, for example)

I can probably help you personally (and locally) with any number of these things. MeFi mail me.
posted by milqman at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2012

Back in nyc, i used to do a weekly nightclub...on monday nights. Needless to say, it was kind of a hard sell, so we got really creative and started putting (free classified) listings in every publication we could find...and we would lie a lot (part of our goal was to end up with as unlikely a mixed-up crowd as we could get (and we were stunningly successful), so YMMV) ...for example: New Yorker: late night poetry reading 1am $5 host: Maya Angelou (yes, people showed up expecting the u.s. poet laureate to show up at a dive bar in the east villiage on a monday...suckers) or villiage voice: late night foxy boxing contest $5 to enter, $100 prize (there was no prize)...taxicab driver union meeting, anti-abortion rally, indoor dog park, "absolutely legal" human flesh restaurant (y'know...leftovers from the organ donor program), Cher's garage sale...
You dont have to lie as much as i did, but you can fill those seats. ANYTHING related to computers: SELL IT!
posted by sexyrobot at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey @lobbyist, good tip, thanks! I hadn't put enough thought into colleges as a vector for promotion. If that really is a problem on campuses, I bet a some CS teachers would be happy to mention me in their class or have a flyer in their room. I do have a lot of connections to comp sci professors in various places, so that could be really helpful. I'll PM you the link when I actually create the hybrid course.

@milqman, those seem like good ideas, though I don't know exactly how to peruse all of them right now, I'll get on it. The meetup group idea sounds really promising... except I'm not 100% sure what a meetup group is or how to find them.

@sexyrobot ... I'm astounded. Speechless. Mind blown. I'm not sure I want to attract cannibals to my course... but I can see how dramatic ads would get more interest than boring ones. Thanks for mind-expanding tip.
posted by brenton at 10:22 AM on August 17, 2012

Lots of laypeople are interested in this subject, reach out to large employers in your area, offer discount group tickets, use professional networks like Active 20-30 club, Rotary, etc. Chamber of Commerce, too. Many small business owners need to create their own websites, approach them through the Chamber and 1 on 1, see if they will help, promote the event amongst their networks, or ask if they have any networking groups you could present to. You could even look into a groupon or living social deal, although I think you would have to increase the ticket price if you did that, at $5, you'd make like, a buck off every ticket.
posted by nerdcore at 10:23 AM on August 17, 2012

You need an Influencer Strategy. Try to contact leaders - people with a bajillion twitter followers - and get them to re-tweet or promote.

Also: contact organisations (informal networks or real orgs) in major cities around the world and see if they'll promote the event to their members, assuming your class is in the interest of their members.
posted by Kololo at 10:40 AM on August 17, 2012

If you don't already have a Facebook page for your event where people can do half the promoting for you, you're in the wrong.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:57 PM on August 17, 2012

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