How to Promote a Show or Event in 2024

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Uncategorized

I’m sitting aboard the Queen of Cowichan bound for Horseshoe Bay, ostensibly to share about Clean Slate with members of a club I’m a part of. From Horseshoe Bay, I’ll drive another hour or so to reach Maple Ridge where the gathering will be held.

Even if temporarily, I’ve convinced myself that success has a price, and if the price is a couple of ferry rides and a night in a shared Airbnb in exchange for 10, 20, maybe 30 ticket sales, it will have been worth the excursion. If nothing else, it makes me realize that the journey itself – even if it is with definite intentions (not underlying motive) – is a luxury I can revel in.

When it comes to events, though, I believe “share” is the right word, as the idea of “promotion” is either as outdated as the Jurassic period, or it is as far-fetched as monkeys flying out of your butt.

Promotion suggests that you can broadcast your intentions, post a bulletin, or throw your book at a stranger and have them spontaneously commit an upcoming Friday night to your show. A Friday night they would probably much rather spend cozying up by a fire and a flat-screen TV.

Oh, throwing a book at someone will get a reaction. But probably not the reaction you were hoping for.

There is simply too much noise, and everybody is trying to make a go of some permutation of “entrepreneurship,” the gig economy, the creator economy, some spinoff, or a combination thereof.

Sure, it’s relatively obvious when someone with superficial intentions enters the arena and promptly gets clobbered by the nearest metaphorical 250 lbs. muscle-bound linebacker, but even then, we’ve come to a point where people can’t tell shills and charlatans from their elbow.

Not to mention – we’re essentially sharing the same pie. Did anyone stop to think… if it’s a false economy anyway, shouldn’t we all go to each other’s events and buy each other’s stuff? (Like two logging trucks passing each other on opposite sides of the highway – did anyone stop to think about the logistics?) If nothing else, we’d all break even.

Nah, I guess that would be a little too weird-headed.

Anyway, what my community history has shown, time and again, is that personal invitations must be made if you’re to have any hope of installing a core audience for your event. Maybe not so if your name has a draw, but that’s a rare thing at the community level.

In your content creation, social media carpet bombing, and advertising efforts will you attract a small contingent of thrill-seekers, boredom killers, or oddballs who find your marketing “neat?” Possibly. But “small” is the operative word here. Without a core audience, there are no bandwagons to jump on.

You can make those invitations any way you want, but it would be preferable to leave your invitees touched, moved, and inspired in some way, shape, or form because that’s going to increase the chances that they’re going to respond favorably to your invitation.

With a core audience established, your show or event should have a leg to stand on.


I am also convinced of something else, that energy lives in conversation.

When left to our own devices, we very naturally tend toward our blanket of dark thoughts. Even if they appear justified in some way, they rarely are.

We’re all very capable of turning on a dime. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. One moment you’re down in the dumps, the next moment you receive a compliment from a stranger, and suddenly you’re flying high.

You may see your current endeavor or project as some hopeless cause, but what’s going to turn it all around is a well-placed phone call. Getting on the horn and asking others for their best thinking will help you see everything from a different perspective.

It took me a long time to figure this out, so I’m going to shortcut years of learning for you right here.

Those who are actively and consistently having conversations about what they’re out to create in the world are the ones making their dreams a reality. This is one of the reasons I have no choice but to call B.S. on not sharing your goals with anyone. Try it. Let me know how it goes.

Those who are actively and consistently having conversations about what they’re out to create in the world are the ones making their dreams a reality. Share on X

In pursuing conversation, quality matters, but quantity is just as imperative if not more so. You need many perspectives, not just one. You need the help of many people to make your dreams a reality, not just one. One is the most dangerous number in business.

You need the help of many people to make your dreams a reality, not just one. Share on X

It’s impossible to manage such a large rolodex perfectly, so don’t try. Simply categorize the people you meet (musician, manager, executive, etc.) and make notes on those you have the best conversations with. But keep having more conversations. That’s the key.

And if you’re still wondering how this is going to make any difference, here’s the rub:

As you engage in conversation, what inevitably happens is you’re presented with opportunities. So-and-so offers you free coaching sessions. What’s his face lets you stay at his house for a month. What’s-her-name agrees to mention your music in her newsletter.

These conversations end up forming the critical turning points on your way to the success you desire.