By: Ronald Clark
One of the great joys of living in the Ozarks is the sheer number and variety of local events that happen every weekend. On any weekend you are bound to find seasonal celebrations, musical festivals, social gatherings, art festivals, community events, food festivals, participative sports, cultural festivals, car shows and more.
Many of the events recur on a monthly or annual basis. Some have become prized local traditions lasting for years or even decades. Others arrive on the scene with promise, only to disappear quickly. What separates events that become staples of the community from events that disappear after a few or even a single occurrence? One answer, from my admittedly biased perspective, is marketing.
The whole of event marketing is too broad a subject to be covered in one column. It’s challenging enough to cover the subject in a full semester of my entertainment marketing course at Missouri State University. However, a few marketing principles can help your event achieve staying power.
First, brand your event concisely. Simple names like Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival, 417 Cars and Coffee, First Friday Art Walk, and MarooNation Ball become household names in part because they are succinct and memorable. It sure beats “First Annual Meeting of the Springfield Community Performance Art Enthusiasts Fundraiser in Support of World Peace for the Children.” I jest, but I have seen events branded this poorly.
Second, brand the experience. People attend events for a number of reasons (e.g., entertainment, altruism, personal/cultural enrichment, aesthetic appeal, etc.), but ultimately they remember the experience. Therefore, it’s critical that promotion of the event market the experience. Appealing to the senses is a good way to accomplish that.
Finally, be strategic with your promotional objectives for your event. Obviously, the first objective is to inform people of the event essentials (i.e., event name, location, date, time, etc.). The information stage needs to occur well in advance of the event. With so many events in the Ozarks, the calendar fills up fast.
A second promotional objective is to persuade potential attendees that your event is a compelling way to spend their free time. This is the point in your promotion where you focus on branding the experience and setting expectations. If the event benefits a cause, then expanding on the nature of the cause and how the proceeds from the event will go toward said cause is important. For example, car enthusiasts like a car show, but they love a car show for a good cause.
As your event draws nearer, your promotional objectives move into the reminder phase. If the first two promotional objectives have been properly executed, the prospective participants know what the event is and why they should attend. Now you need to increase the frequency of your promotions, building to one big crescendo that peaks on the date of the event. Many times, I have heard about an exciting event well in advance, but the absence of reminder advertising resulted in me missing the event. Reminder advertising can help prevent this from happening to your event.
We’ve only scratched the surface of event marketing. However, following these straightforward principles can help ensure that your event becomes a must-see happening that is on everyone’s calendar.
This article appeared in the October 24th edition of the News-Leader and can be accessed online here.
Ronald Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at Missouri State University, specializes in issues related to marketing and advertising. He teaches classes in consumer behavior, services marketing, advertising and promotion, personal selling, and sales management. Email: email@example.com.