Once you’ve decided to host a cooking class or special event, your next challenge is figuring out where to reach out to possible attendees. There are the traditional routes of advertising, such as reaching out to your current mailing list, but to really get the word out, you have to think outside the box and utilize some of the marketing tools available to you.

# 1: Demographics Research

Before you begin promoting your event, you have to determine who your client demographic is. A class geared toward fine dining versus casual will necessitate different promotional strategies. Your first step is to figure out the general demographic you’re targeting. Some age choices include:

  • Gen-X
  • Gen-Y
  • Gen-Z
  • Baby Boomers

You can then break that down further by state, education, income level, marital status, etc. Gather general details through Census.gov. The better you can define your demographic, the easier it will be to promote to them.

# 2: Event Page

Take the time to build an event page that offers all the information potential attendees will need to sign up for your cooking event. Attendee Events offers the ability to build an event page and let users register right there on the page. Having a central location to send people to for information will also come in handy as you’re utilizing other tools to promote your event. Posting a Facebook ad? Make sure you include a link to the event page. Tweeting about the guest chef? Include that link again.

# 3: BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is an excellent tool to utilize in building content meant to drive potential registrants to your event page. You can plug in a keyword, topic, backlinks, etc. and discover how well similar content has performed. After all, the last thing you want to do is waste time and resources producing content that will have little impact on your audience. Instead, you want to offer content that will encourage the reader to at a minimum read more about your upcoming event, and ideally will influence him or her to register for your event. You can also use this tool to research your competition.

# 4: OfferPop

Use OfferPop to drive a hashtag or social media campaign. The faster you can get people buzzing about your event, the more shares that will occur and the more traction your social media campaign will get. Think through the hashtag you use for such a promotional strategy, though. You want something that speaks to the event, but that you can also utilize in future to reach out to that same audience during future events. You might also consider utilizing the hashtag during the actual cooking event to generate more excitement for your brand.

# 5: Word-Of-Mouth

You are probably already aware that a lot of your business comes from word-of-mouth referrals. Your current customers are your best and least expensive advertising tool you have at your disposal. According to Nielsen, around 85% of shoppers trust recommendations from friends and family and identify word of mouth as a key influence in their purchasing decisions.

ReferralRock is one simple tool that can help you utilize the benefits of referrals more effectively. You should also just ask current customers to tell their friends about you, or offer them a small incentive to do so.

Another easy way to spread the word online is to create easy to access share links for people to share upcoming event news on social media or by email.

# 6: Local Promotions Sites

If you don’t mind offering a small discount and a percentage of your profits, you may have some success with sites such as Groupon, Living Social, or Gilt. You essentially offer a specific event for a discounted price and customers who frequent those sites will see the special and sign up if interested. If you’re just getting started, this can be a good place to advertise.

These tools will get you started, but don’t forget traditional means of marketing, such as press releases to your local newspaper or even flyers in the gourmet section of your local grocery store.