Marrio, Margo, and Sulé
Two weeks ago, the Whole Heart Productions team all boarded planes and started their journeys towards New Orleans for our first annual Home Grown weekend. I know that Sulé has a great write-up coming about the experience, so I won’t steal his thunder. Also, I’m sharing some of my experience in our newsletter this afternoon (have you subscribed?).
What I do want to share is some of the behind the scenes marketing tips that might be useful to artists as you prepare for your own events. Planning an event isn’t easy, and trying to create a marketing strategy beyond is sometimes intimidating. These tips should help to make it just a little easier to get started.
As soon as you know that there’s going to be an event, it’s time to start planning your marketing strategy. Start by figuring out where you want to market. Make a wish list of the media outlets you’d like to be listed with. Make another list of newspapers and television stations with local events calendars. Finally, make a list of outlets you’re confident will at least give you a small mention. Don’t forget niche news outlets; it’s usually easier to catch the attention of a magazine or newsletter that focuses strictly on art in the area than it is to get a write-up in a larger city-wide paper. Draw up a plan for how you want to get the word out, and then develop a timeline for doing so.
Capitalize on Your Strengths
What are you offering through your event that no one else is doing? What is it that sets you apart from everyone else? Home Grown started as a brilliant, but untested, idea. Sulé had a great concept, but what made it work was the people who got behind him for it. Our strength was in our people: the performers, choreographers, volunteers, and others who came together to make it work. Your strengths might be something different. Figure out what they are, and then make the most of them.
Gather Your Contacts
You don’t need to spend big money on a marketing team; chances are, you already have one in place. Friends, family, and colleagues might all be willing to help spread the word, whether it’s through sharing a Facebook post or hanging up flyers. There might be other ways in which people can support your event, too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be specific. It’s easier for people to offer their help for something specific than it is to offer assistance without knowing what you need.
Print Your Materials Early
If you’re going to have flyers, make sure that they’re ready well in advance. If you’re not experienced in this area, hire someone. If finances are a concern, put out a call for a student designer. The goal here is to make sure that all of your printed materials look fantastic, match your brand (and the event’s brand), and make a stunning first impression. Once you have that covered, get everything printed. Hand out flyers to event coordinators or friends who can help find places to hang them up, and have printed material (even if it’s something business-card sized) available to hand out if someone asks for details. They’re more likely to remember the event (and attend) if they have a physical reminder.
Hire Someone to Write a Press Release
If you’re not a writer, and if you don’t have experience in writing press releases, this is an area where it might help to spend the extra and hire an experienced writer. Your press release is often the first contact you have with media sources, and that first impression counts. Make sure that it’s as strong as possible.
Keep at It
Keep a steady pace. If you put together a schedule for your marketing strategy, try to have a different goal for each week, even if it’s something as simple as writing a Facebook post or create a list of contacts. As you move closer to your event, do more. Create momentum as you start to reach out to a wider audience, try to get the details shared through more sources. This is the time to really reach out and ask your team to help get the word out.
Build on Your Results
After the event, it’s time to reflect on how well your marketing strategy worked and then build on those results. The Home Grown: Journeys of Euphoria performance sold out. There wasn’t a single empty seat in the CAC auditorium. Will that be going in our marketing kit for next year’s event? You betcha. Each event should build on the ones before it. Any success, and any lessons learned during this event should make the next event even better.
Home Grown: Journeys of Euphoria was a learning experience, but it was also an incredible opportunity to really come together as a team. We’re already brainstorming for next year, taking this year’s experience and using it to fuel an even better experience in 2016. Will we see you there?