how to get attendees to your free event

At Spring we recently ran our first ever Kick Rooftop Mingler to celebrate Kick Vancouver’s one year anniversary. Kick is a incubator program to help early stage entrepreneurs validate their ideas and begin to scale. It’ been a fun year with 65 entrepreneurs representing 43 companies that went through the program.

Using Picatic helped us get an exciting 91 signups to the mingler at a 31% conversion rate on the event page. While this was great, if you’ve ever organized a free event, you know that the real challenge is to get confirmed attendees to actually show up. Here are 5 strategies we used to increase the attendance at our free event: 

Partner shout outs + social media

The first step to getting people to your event is to start building some awareness. This may seem obvious, but not everyone knows where to start. For instance we drove qualified traffic to our event page by creating a simple list of top partners. In our case this was Vancity and Futurpreneur, who generously shared the event on their social media and mailing lists resulting in over 400 page views.

Have an exciting story to tell

Let’s face it, we’re all super busy and the last thing we want to do after work is continue working. Framing the event as a “Rooftop Mingler” and pushing the laid back atmosphere helped attract guests. We also wanted to celebrate the first anniversary of Kick, adding to the fun factor.

A night over-looking downtown Vancouver, chatting with change makers, with a cold beer in hand? Yes, please.

Clear and simple messaging

There are so many events out there that it’s tough to stand out. We decided to keep our messaging super simple “Network with Impact Entrepreneurs on our Roof” to stand out and be remembered.

Easy-to-remember event URL

Make it super simple for people to remember your event. One guest specifically told me the fact that we had a URL really helped her remember about the event. She had to reference back to it for directions and this ensured that she actually showed up to the roof.

Send an event reminder

My last tip is to send personalized emails to all the participants the day of the event. This serves as both a reminder and a helpful instructions on how to get to the location, especially since our venue is a bit complicated to find. We used Yet Another Mail Merge to send the emails, however you can also use Picatic’s built-in email tool or their MailChimp integration.

Utilizing the above strategies resulted in over 50 attendees and about a 55% attendance rate at our first free event.

Celebrating Kick on a sunny night with 50 or so excited entrepreneurs was a lot of fun. It’s inspired us to keep using the space to run another Mingler on Thursday, August 20th at 5PM, where we’ll be running a Cofounder Connect session matching tech and business talent.


This blog post was written by Ilya Brotzky – Kick Director at Spring Activator & CEO at VanHack.


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