Marketing Your Special Event
1. Work your lists.
Your database should contain details of everyone who's ever shown the smallest interest in you. Contact them all with a special offer on your special event.
2. Send out press releases to your media list.
Start six weeks out and send regular updates. Try to produce a press release that the editor could put directly into the local paper with no changes.
3. Hang out a banner.
Put up a sign. Your local real estate agent is often prepared to put up a sign for you in return for having their details in large letters at the bottom.
4. Put the details on your website.
Have a banner ad. If you can have an online ticket sale facility, so much the better. Advertise your website on and off the net. Arrange with related websites to link to yours.
5. Cover the neighbourhood with posters (only where you're legally allowed to do so, of course!).
Posters should include information about the event - time and place; key stalls or performers; where, when and how to buy tickets; parking; website details.
6. Get your sponsors to plug it.
Include marketing packages in your sponsorship agreements. Whenever your sponsors are advertising, you can piggyback. "Hypercola - proud sponsor of the Goodwork Foundation Sports Fair."
7. Put the word out on the email lists and chat groups in your field.
Whatever field your organisation works in, there are going to be groups of people online exchanging information about exactly that. Many are going to be Americans, or Germans, or Finns, but there will be some Australian lists. Some of those people are probably living in your city. You should hook in to them and attract them to your event.
8. Give free tickets to prominent local figures you're dealing with now or you might be dealing with later.
Local notables are simply sponsors you haven't signed up yet. Pass tickets to local government and business people. You'll be able to approach them with more confidence later.
9. Give free tickets to the media for distribution as prizes or giveaways.
Radio stations are quite good at giving away contest tickets. While doing the contests, they're talking about your event. The same goes with newspaper or television promotion of your event. This kind of advertising is much cheaper than a paid commercial spot, and it usually lasts longer.
10. Hold a Press Conference.
About two weeks prior to your event, hold a press conference. Invite media and try to have a celebrity on hand. Be sure to give media photo opportunities. Give them a full press kit with a contact number for additional questions. Don't be afraid of reporters - get them excited about your event. If they get excited, they will be animated and happy reporting about it.
11. Get a table in the local shopping centre or strip and sell tickets.
That's where the people are, and if you've got a good event and good signage you can catch their attention for your sales pitch. Organise this with centre management. Ask if they will sponsor the event or provide a prize while you're at it.
12. Offer a special corporate package with extra benefits and extra personal attention.
This can smooth your sponsorship path or can simply be used to insert another price point into your charge sheet. Raise your profit margin for higher priced items.
13. Advertise in tourist bureaus and "What's On" booklets.
Catch the out-of-staters or internationals or out-of-towners who are looking to do something other than sit in the local pub and are wondering where all the people are tonight.
14. Cover the local service clubs, community groups, schools.
Ask your local service clubs - RSL, Rotary, etc. - to run your announcement. Ask other not-for-profits in your area for some newsletter/noticeboard space as well. See if the schools and pre-schools in your area will run your piece in their regular newsletters too.
15. Give out free tickets in schools.
If appropriate, provide free children's tickets where accompanied by an adult (paying full price).
Five things not to forget on the day
16. Have direction and advertising signage.
These will ensure people can find you and will attract the passing trade. Run your signage out to the nearest main road. Add some balloons to signify fun.
17. Organise for parking and have volunteers supervise it so that it's orderly.
The last thing you want is for people to drive round and round and give up for lack of a parking space.
18. Know what the market will bear.
People won't come if it's too dear. Research the economic demographics of your audience and match admission prices, food prices and entertainment to the audience and the geographical area.
19. Have a theme.
This provides a hook for media and a tag for people to remember the event by after the commercial has finished.
20. Have a fun half-time show.
Whatever your event, try to organise a bit of fun - something that people can take part in or something they will be talking about for days.
21. Swap announcements over the P.A. with other organisations in your area that run events.
Put up posters at other grounds and have someone passing out flyers. Exchange tickets with the other organisers to improve liaison. Offer to do the same for their event if they're a complementary organisation.
22. Put an ad on your answering machine.
Don't neglect the small tags - your answering machine, your email signature, stickers on your outgoing mail, a last-minute email to your personal address list.
23. Get your sponsors to drop a flyer for your event in with their regular mail-outs.
They're sending out friendly reminders of impending lawsuits over unpaid bills - cheer up the recipient with a colourful flyer for a fun event.
24. Letterbox the neighbourhood with special offers to the event.
Offer a second ticket free, half price, redeemable soft drink vouchers, etc. The important thing is to get them through the gate.
25. Have a special free advance showing.
Target groups like old people, pensioners, people with disabilities, kids from the children's hospital, and the media. If it's a show or event that needs a rehearsal and your actual session costs are manageable, this often gives you a good crack at getting a positive story and photo into the media in advance of the big day. And if it's good, the talk factor will ensure they tell others.
Five social media marketing tips
26. Create a hashtag.
A hashtag is a word or a series of words or slogans used in conjunction with a hash symbol (#). They're used extensively on social media to help people keep track of messages about a particular topic - lovers of Australian politics follow the #auspol hashtag; people interested in quirky cat pictures look out for #CatsOfInstagram; Justin Bieber fans follow the #justinbieber hashtag. There are no rules for who can make up a hashtag - you can create one for your event and use it in all your social media posts. This will make it easier for those interested in the event to follow the conversation. Be creative, but keep it short.
27. Create an event page.
Creating an event page on Facebook will expose your special day to the social media world. You provide basic details about the event (when, where), add a picture, then invite people to attend your event or express an interest in attending. They can ask their friends to do the same, increasing your reach even further.
28. Post to the new event page.
One of your guest speakers in the news? Post a link. Interesting article that relates to your cause? Post it. Keep the interest in your event alive and you will keep the numbers walking through the doors.
29. Post reminders on the day.
Use social media to inform those of us who are too shy to ask in person where the help desk is. Remind people to check out any aspects of your event that are important. Stalls, fundraising tents, membership forms - a quick tweet or a Facebook update will help to get people there.
30. Use your 'people power'.
Get your employees and partners to endorse your posts. Social media algorithms can mean that the more people who express an interest in an event, the more people are shown it. A 'like', 'comment' or 'share' can go a long way when it comes to spreading the word of your event.
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