Marketing your events – a step-by-step guide

You’ve picked a date, booked a venue, agreed on a programme, and now it’s time to get cracking with ticket sales. This guidance will lead you through a set of steps to help you effectively market your events.  


  1. Who is your audience?
  2. How to present your event
  3. Pricing and ticketing
  4. Promote!
  5. Top 5 takeaways

Before we start, you may want to look at how accessible and inclusive your event is, as removing potential barriers can have a positive impact on your marketing. Find out more about planning and running accessible and inclusive activities.

1. Who is your audience? 

A fundamental part of marketing your events is understanding who your audience is. What we mean here by 'audience' is the people you are targeting with your marketing. This includes people who are part of your existing attendee base, and those who you’d like to reach who haven’t been to one of your events before.  

Understanding your audience will help you to position your event in a way that will be appealing to them. The types of things that will be useful to understand are:  

  • Demographics – age, gender, location, work status.
  • How do they normally find out about events? 
  • What is their motivation to attend a live music event. 
    • What is it that they enjoy most?  
    • What do they value at other live music events? 

Use your existing audience base 

If you already have a strong audience base, then chances are you already have a rough idea of who comes to your events. To find out more detailed information from this group of people, you could consider emailing a survey to your audience, using a free service such as

If your audience, or a segment of your audience, prefers to engage with you in a non-digital way, you could consider having a paper form for them to fill in at your events, or send out a survey via post. Whichever way you collect your responses, these online surveys tools can still be useful to collate information together about your whole audience base.  

Sample questions:

  • What was your main reason for coming to this event? 
  • What music/artists would you be interested in hearing in the future? 
  • Have you attended one of our events before? If so, how often? 
  • What is your employment status? 
  • What is your ethnic background? 
  • What is your age group?   
  • Do you have any specific access requirements? 

NB. If you are asking for information about certain personal data, you will need to follow data protection rules about collecting and storing this data. 

Who do you want to attract?  

When considering how to grow your audience and reach new people, it’s worth thinking back to your group’s brand. Through developing your group’s brand, you should have a story and clear identity as to why your group exists and what it hopes to offer to the community. This is a great starting point to identify information about people in your local area that may be interested in coming to one of your events. Find out more about branding your group.  

You can also find more information out about the audience pool in your local area by using an online research tool such as Audience Spectrum

Graph of who books different kinds of performances in the East Midlands taken from the Audience Spectrum website

Audience Finder tool from Audience Spectrum showing audience segments booking in the East Midlands

Segment your audience

Once you have gathered your data about who is currently attending your events and who may want to attend one of your events in the future, it’s useful to segment this data into groups of similar types of people. This is because different groups of people will have different behaviours, needs and preferences and you will be able to tailor your marketing and promotion in a way that targets each group. 

Segments to consider are: 

  • Which communication channels do people prefer? This could be print materials such as flyers or posters, or digital channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • What is the main motivation to attend an event? Is it for a social activity with friends, or are they keen to explore and support culture in their local area?
  • Do they have a disposable income? This may not directly affect your marketing messaging, but it may be important when considering your ticket pricing. 

You may only need two or three segments depending on what your group does. It’s best not to split your audience base up into more than five segments, otherwise you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of marketing work for each event! 

Example segments:

  • Retirees who are involved in supporting their local community
  • A-level music students who primarily connect with others online
  • People aged 26-35 with young children, who socialise with friends in the evening after work

2. How to present your event

Now you have a good understanding of who may come to your event, you can start to think about how you present the event to them. To start off with, you need to get to grips with exactly what your event offers. 

Firstly, it’s useful to make a list of the quantifiable characteristics of your music event. These could include:

  • the programme/music
  • the calibre of professional artists (if applicable)
  • the quality of performance
  • venue(s) (type, comfort, facilities etc.)
  • location
  • timings (day, time and length)
  • presentation style (performers’ dress, seating style)
  • social aspects (time to mingle before/after performance, availability of refreshments)
  • the packaging (the concept/theme, branding and design)

Next, we can consider some of the unique selling points (USPs). What makes your event different from what else is going on in your local area? You may not just be in competition with other music groups or venues, but also with other arts, theatre or festivals, so it’s worth considering what makes your event special. This could be things such as:

  • rarity/exclusivity – premiere, first time this work has been performed since X date
  • scale – mass event bringing together many groups/organisations, a spectacular
  • topical – exploring a hot issue, national celebration/commemoration
  • known credentials – well-known artists, reviews from previously successful performances

Try and keep your notes specific and focused on facts about your event. We don’t need this list to be long as later in section four, we will look at combining these with more qualifiable or descriptive aspects of your event, such as whether it’s casual, friendly or upbeat. 

Now it’s time to match your event to your audience segments. People will buy tickets because you are offering something that they need, so it’s important to put yourself in the mindset of your different audience segments and try to understand what this event will fulfil for them. Once they understand what the benefit is of attending your event, then you are almost there with the ticket sale! 

Things to consider are:

  • How will this event enrich, inspire or excite your audience?
  • How will the audience feel during or after the event?
  • What makes this event unique or different?

These answers may be the same or different for each of your audience segments – and that’s fine. Note down everything you can think of for each segment and later on, we will determine which of these we will use to craft your marketing messages. 

3. Pricing and ticketing

In the ‘Who is your audience?’ section, we considered what different segments of your audience might look like. Now, you can look at whether they have disposable income, to help inform how you set your ticket prices. 

As there’s often lots of competition for people’s leisure activities, you’ll want to make sure your standard price is competitive. If your ticket prices are too high, this may become a barrier to entry for certain segments of your audience, whereas if your ticket prices are too low, you may undersell your event, give the impression that your event is low quality, and your audience may be less committed to attending the event.

You can read more about ticket pricing and event income in our resources. 

Make it easy to buy tickets

If you can, it's best to provide as many ways to buy tickets as possible. Ideally, you should offer all these options for customers:

If you have a member or volunteer acting as your box office contact, make sure that they answer their phone or respond to message promptly, and that they are fully briefed on the event, including details about the venue such as parking, transport and access.


When using online ticketing, make the most of the features these services offer, including customising your profile page on their website, adding detailed event information, flexible pricing structures and using reporting tools to find out how your ticketing is performing. 

Find out more in our resource on selling tickets online.

4. Promote! 

You now have everything we need to start promoting your event! You will hopefully understand who might come to the event, what your event offers to your potential audiences, and a way for people to buy tickets. 

Next up is to think about creating some key messaging around the event. Here, we want to take your notes about the quantifiable aspects of your event from section two and combine them with more descriptive language to match them to what your audience segments may want. Keep this key messaging short, concise and engaging. 

Some examples to get you started: 

  • Extraordinary music performed by everyday people
  • Internationally acclaimed artists on your doorstep
  • Discover classical music in a friendly atmosphere
  • Live music. Local musicians.
  • Bringing the best [insert genre] artists to [insert town]
  • Singing that will raise your spirits
  • [Insert town/city]’s most exciting/eclectic/friendly etc. choir/festival/music club
  • Fine music. Fine venues. Fine company.

These key messages will help your potential audience members understand why they’d like to buy a ticket to come to your event. To help persuade them further, a good technique is to include any reviews or quotes from critics or customers who have been to your events previously. This gives your event credibility and helps the potential audience member trust that they will have a good time at your event, and you will deliver what you promise. 

Getting the message out

Your strategy here is to promote your event where you think your audience will be looking. Based on the audience segments you’ve created, you should be able to identify certain areas where you can target your potential audience. The matrix below suggests promotional places to consider:

Digital marketing Advertising Direct marketing PR Peer to peer
Search Print media Print, e.g flyers Local media Personal selling
Social media Digital
Email Radio Letters Community publications Ambassadors
Website TV
Online PR / blogs Outdoor

You will not need to target all these channels but should focus on several of these that are most relevant to your audience to increase your chances of reaching them. By placing your key messages in more than one place, you give them more of a chance to grow in the minds of your potential audience.


A website is a vital and incredibly valuable promotional tool, not least because once it is up and running it is relatively cheap and you can update it when you like. You can find lots of tips on building, designing and improving your website in our guidance.

To make the most of your website for events:

  • Create a page for each of your events and link them together (or even better, incorporate a calendar feature or tagging system to help users browse them)
  • Ensure relevant information is included (date, time, map, cost, repertoire, performers) and ensure that any work that you have done to make your event more accessible and inclusive has been highlighted. Find out more about removing barriers to your event in our resource. 
  • Include rich media, such as video, audio or other engaging elements, and spend time on your copywriting to ensure that visitors are ‘hooked’ by including the key messages you came up with
  • Incorporate booking links and calls to action into your event
  • Incorporate social media links and calls to action to help cross-pollinate the message

To see if your current website is meeting your group's needs, use our website health check tool.

Social media

It’s a natural space for sharing social and cultural events. Lots of people do not want to (or think to) go to a listings site to look for an event. Instead, people will evaluate events that fit with their social schedule when they are made aware of them naturally.

Social media can be an ideal platform for this since it’s a social environment, and since most people spend some time each day on social channels. Don’t assume the audiences aren’t the right age – the fastest-growing segment on social media is 45-55! 


Many leisure-time music groups use Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo to send emails to their mailing lists. However, this can be tricky to scale and it is much harder to meet with current data protection law.

There are free tools, such as Mailchimp, that allow you to send emails to lots of contacts using attractive templates that allow you to include images, nice formatting and personalisation. More importantly, these systems enable you to manage removing people who unsubscribe, as well as track and measure how your emails are performing.

You'll find lots of tips and tricks for using email to market your events in our guidance.


If you think printed materials don’t work for your group, it may be more about what’s on them, what they're competing with and how they're distributed that is the issue. Printed marketing raises awareness of your group’s existence – people often need to see several different communications from an organisation before they’re convinced to buy.

If you're not sure where to start with designing printed materials, we have some helpful tips for designing posters or flyers as well as some free-to-use poster templates available to member groups.

Sample image of the free poster templates available to download from the Making Music website

Selection of poster templates for music groups

In addition, it pays to think beyond flyers and posters, such as vinyl banners.

Consider all the options when distributing your flyers:

  • Door to door
  • Targeting specific places, e.g. cafes, shops, libraries, art centres, B&Bs. Consider using a print distribution service to do this - it may be more affordable than you think
  • Inserting them in local magazines or newspapers
  • With letters sent to your mailing list
  • Handing them out at events with similar audiences or after your own events


Although it can take time and energy, securing good coverage in the local media is a great way to reach a wide audience and raise your profile and all it costs is a few free tickets.

You need to do your homework first. Find out which local media are worth targeting and when their deadlines are. Get to know the journalists and local bloggers, what they are interested in and when the best time is to reach them. Don’t just think about what you want to say about yourselves, think about a hook or angle for your press release and follow it up with a phone call to make sure the journalist has seen it and find out whether they’re interested. Read our tips for approaching the media.

Word of mouth

This is one of the most powerful tools in your box. Personal recommendations or invitations are always far more influential than a poster or advert, but if you get these and your other marketing materials right, they will give members and volunteers the confidence to help spread the word among their friends, family and colleagues. People are much more likely to buy from people they know than from just seeing an online promotion. 

Think about incentivising audience ambassadors to share their love of what you do with their contacts either in person or online. Encourage existing audiences to bring friends by running a special ticket promotion, e.g. buy 1 get the 2nd half price or free when you bring someone new.

5. Top 5 takeaways

  1. Identify who you’d like to sell tickets to before working on how to promote your event
  2. Offer as many ways to buy tickets as you can, including different pricing levels for different groups of people where possible. 
  3. Keep your messaging simple, concise and targeted to those who you think would benefit from coming to your event. 
  4. People sell to people. Maximise word of mouth to spread the word about your event and use any reviews or quotes to help potential audience members build trust in you and your group. 
  5. By planning your marketing carefully and thinking ahead to exactly what you want to achieve, you can cut the amount of time and effort you need to spend on promoting your event. You’ll get better results by marketing well to the right people than marketing haphazardly to everyone. 

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.