This Event Expert article focuses on event posters. Perhaps a little traditional for you in today’s digital world? Well think again. Posters / flyers remain a much-used promotional tool and one of the most creative and interesting ways to get your event message across to your target audience.
Here’s my thoughts on how to create, print and distribute a stand out event posters.
Please feel free to share it with your connections if you think it’s a useful read. Thank you.
Event Posters – aren’t they so last year?
Print is not dead: it’s alive and kicking ass and you can understand why. With our inboxes literally overflowing with ‘stuff’ hard copy promotional materials, that land on our desks or are posted through our letter boxes are a pleasant and welcome surprise. They will be noticed, picked up, moved around and if you have done your job properly – read!
Some poster design tips
As with all event promotional activities posters, have a job to do: to raise awareness and help drive ticket sales or sign ups.
Your poster is like any other piece of event marketing collateral it needs to contain all the most important information. To many of the posters I see are missing vital information, barely readable and are perhaps more interested in looking good, than fulfilling a key promotional role.
I am no designer but do know that my event posters, as a basic minimum must display the information your audience needs to decide if they want to and can attend your event. It must also explain how to find out for more information about your event.
The key information (event name, event value proposition (compelling reasons to attend), date, time, price, incentive, call to action, links, hashtags etc. and have to be legible. A note of warning here; be very careful overlaying text over pictures / busy backgrounds. The Headline statements (the emotional / human content) needs to be clear, concise and sincere and in big bold fonts. You should then outline any booking incentives, calls to action and sign post them to where to find out more information. The factual content date, time and venue can be smaller on the basis that nobody attends an event based purely on when and where it is. Ultimately it may be the reason they can’t attend but I believe you should get them wanting to attend first and then realising they can’t. They might then decide to rearrange their diary to attend your event – it’s possible?
You should also think about your visual branding: the colours, fonts and backgrounds you want to use. These should reflect your events sense of style and occasion. It’s good to be able to get a feeling from the poster of the type of event you are going too.
Who’s going to design it?
With a clear idea of what you want it’s time to set about designing it. Here are your options:
- The in-house graphic designer. Depending on the size of the organisation you work for or what it does you may have access to a designer. Using the information, you have gathered above and your own design and style thoughts it’s time to arrange a meeting and brief them. This has to be done in person and not via email. As the drafts start popping into your in-box, you’ll like or dislike parts of the design, offer suggestions and wait ‘til you see the one! The process may take some time so plan for delays.
- Other design options for those with some design skills or a limited budget is to use The free version comes with a range of templates and drag and drop functionality.
- If you are a ‘do it yourself design whizz’ then something like Adobe Creative Cloud is a good option
- You can crowd source your design work through for example 99 Designs. The process involves posting your brief (it needs to clear, concise and detailed); outline what you prepared to pay for the services using their payment sliding scale and make it live. Once it’s up, you’ll receive designs and then it is up to you to pick and pay for your favourite. Done!
- Slightly more conventional would be to ask a freelance designer to do it for you. The additional required information in this situation is that you will want to make it clear what type of designer you want e.g. design skills, location, language, feedback, working process. Like a job interview you’ll want to check out their design portfolio, perhaps call them and if happy: contract them. Again, they will create drafts for you to comment on until you reach a design you are completely happy with. One way to source free lancers is via the Upwork
It’s a beauty
With your poster, flyer or invitation designed it is time to get it out there. As with all promotional materials, do get it proof read by several people. Assuming its role will be more than just an attachment or insertion in a tweet, pin, post, share or embed on a digital platform hard copies will be needed ready for distribution. So, what are your printing options.
- Print it off yourself
- Take it to your local printers
- Use an on-line printing service such as Moo or Vistaprint. They are convenient, cost effective and often run promotional deals
How many do I need?
In short, never as many as you think you do. Please think long and hard about exactly where you can display your poster or flyer. And importantly will these display points get your poster into the hands of your target audience. If it’s a no or a not sure, don’t waste your time and money by thinking they ‘might’ be there. Another easy trap to fall into is to agree to letting your printer give you another 500 posters for half price! Remember you only need enough posters to cover the display points and perhaps a few more for top up purposes and NO more. With your display points and their suggested qualities noted (might be one poster) and or booked you can now work out how many posters you actually needed.
That’s your print run number.
They won’t distribute themselves!
Your posters have arrived in the office: you rip open the box and wow – don’t they look great. It’s time to plan their distribution. There is no time to waste they need to in the hands of your audience and not being shown off to anyone visiting your office.
There are of course a number of options to fit a range of budgets and an event managers ability to access willing people.
- Hand deliver them to the appropriate shops, services, community centres, libraries, clubs, public notice boards
- Door drops. You can do it yourself or hire workers to do it for you. Examples of companies that do this are TaskRabbit and Direct Letter Box marketing
- Direct Mail – is an option for larger invitation lists and likely to be more expensive. At an entry level you can mail merge names and addresses together; print the labels off, stuff envelopes and post. Budget permitting you can also use a ‘Mailing House’ who will take care of everything.
- Hand them out on a local high street / shopping centre – either with your own people or a company like Street PR. You must however have permission from the land owner / local authority to do it. Again, think about your target audience: where do they meet and when
Are they working?
As some of you will be aware and certainly those who have attended one of my live events training courses, you’ll know that you not only need an event promotional plan (many don’t) but importantly you need to monitor it, to determine which one of your campaigns delivers people, tickets sales or registrations
As an entry level monitoring technique, you can always ask those who sign up / buy a ticket one question – where did you find out about our events and keep a tally. Slightly more advanced would be to offer a discount code to be used in the booking process. This can be tracked.
Those of a more technical nature or access to IT support can create a QR Code (not so trendy these days) or a custom URL that directs visitors to a web page from which you can set up a Google Analytics Goal e.g. How many people who visited this page went on to buy a ticket. Similarly, if you use event registration software then these also provide a range of tracking information.
About Chris Powell, The Event Expert
I run an event management training and consultancy company (The Event Expert) delivering In-house and On-Line event management courses and event consultancy services to accidental, occasional and professional event managers. My objective is to give them the confidence and skills to design, plan, promote and deliver their own successful and rewarding events.
My courses are based on 20+ years of practical event management experience. I practice what I preach!
My clients come from the world of business, education, sport, the public and charity sector, training companies, tourism, creative agencies, universities and festivals.
Thank you for taking the time this article