Marketing and your Community Group - Tips on getting free exposure for your eventHaving limitless money to spend on expensive publicity, marketing and advertising campaigns is simply a dream for most community groups and not-for-profit organisations. Because of this, many groups have to use their wits, ingenuity and their contacts to find ways of getting their message out without spending money.
Even groups that have marketing budgets are looking for ways to leverage their money with some free promotion.
Below are a dozen tips on gaining attention for your group without spending money. While many of these tips are money-savers, they also encourage groups to look more widely and be more innovative.
Word of MouthWord of mouth is still one of the most powerful selling tools because it also comes with a reliable, credible endorsement
The first place to start is with your members and supporters.
Use your meetings, regular communications and newsletters publicise events and encourage everyone to spread the word through their friends and friends of friends.
"Sell, Sell, Sell"Get people who are spreading the word to carry raffle tickets, monetary or auction item donation slips or event invitations so transactions can be completed in one simple operation.
If you do this, make regular checks to see who's done what. What's been sold or who's been signed up. Make sure your group manages the situation and keeps track of any money that needs to come in.
Posters and shop windowsPosters are particularly effective for local or community events.
It is relatively easy to put together an eye-catching design with event details on paper, add colour and stick copies on every power pole and flat wall within ten blocks, but be aware that some councils have by-laws prohibiting it in certain areas.
Local shops will usually display your information in their window if you ask politely.
SignsCatch passing trade with a large sign.
Many local groups, particularly schools, sporting groups, even CFA and SES branches, get a local real estate firm to donate sign-writing and the use of a sign for a few weeks. Otherwise ask for a volunteer to put their painting skills to the test.
'What's on' columns – published and on-lineLocal and major newspapers, as well as online portals or sites, have "What's on" sections which publicise information about upcoming events.
These columns shouldn't be overlooked; they are usually cheaper than other advertising and convey all the information you need to a wide number of readers.
People who read these columns are looking for things to do. They are motivated and looking for options.
What's on columns can be used to target an audience viewing a site or reading a paper – for example, larger Australian cities have weekly street-press or freebie newspapers covering art, music, museums, area events, pub bands and movie times.
Local Newsletters – organisation, politician or councilYour group could take advantage of other newsletters circulating in the local area to publicise an event to a wider audience.
Newspapers – local and majorApproach newspapers on your media contact list (for more information refer to the help sheet Creating a Media Contact Book) with a pitch for a story on your upcoming event.
Radio – community and majorThere are a few ways your group can get its message out on the radio, with local or community radio more likely to give your locally-based event the best run.
TelevisionTV news needs footage to illustrate a story, so they tend to report on things that have already happened rather than things due to happen.
Your group will have to work hard to "sell" a station on your story – including setting up an attractive or striking picture opportunity, or TV stunt that they can't resist
Invite the TV stations to the event when it happens, which is no good for selling tickets in advance, but may result in getting footage to air and this can be invaluable in generating interest in your group and any future events it holds.
PhotographySimilarly to television, photographers need something to photograph. Inviting a photographer to your event will not help boost immediate attendance numbers, however professional photographs could go a long way when it comes to demonstrating the worth of your events in the future.
Professional photographers cost money, and can often be the first thing cut when community groups look for ways to save money for their event. However if you want your community group to look more professional while still saving money, there is a way.
Brisbane based photographer Dean Holland has created a website that links money-strapped community groups with volunteer amateur photographers seeking experience.
The service can be accessed at http://photo-opportunities.com.
Community Service Announcements (CSAs)Radio and TV stations often run Community Service Announcements for community or charitable groups, or for community events.
More information on CSAs can be found in the help sheet Getting a Community Service Announcement at the Media & Marketing Centre.
WebsitesPut details of your event on your website. Although this may only reach people who know you exist or are interested in what you're doing, they are also the group most likely to invest in a ticket.
The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.