With this post, I am referring to not marketing your own event, but rather taking advantage of big events around you. Grand Rapids has many great opportunities for event marketing, but my favorite one is Art Prize. Art Prize is a 19-day event where many artists display their art throughout the city. The event was created by Rick De Vos, and this was the 9th year for the event. The event is free and each year approximately 500,000 people visit the city. Many restaurants, stores museums, etc. host pieces, actually 175 venues are participating this year!
There are many different ways to market your business including sampling, literature drops, handouts, and giveaways, but before you try any of them make sure that you check out local laws and get necessary permissions. Work with the event or venue to make sure any branding you use is correct, and that you have permission to use logos, hashtags, etc.
Why should you piggyback off other events to market your business?
Interacting with a large local event is a great way to connect with new audiences and to be able to wow them with their first impression of your company.
The core principles of marketing are connecting with the right audience at the right time. The event is a great way to make that initial connection. While this audience may not be at this particular event to find your business if that first impression was memorable and you give them a reason to return you will have a gained a loyal customer. If you are able to capture contact information or Facebook likes you have the perfect opportunity to continue the conversation with your new audience.
Ok, so how can you capitalize on this big event?
Most event organizers have created Twitter and Instagram hashtags for their events. To capitalize on this hashtag you could do something like offering 20% off dinner during the event when the customer shows the tweet that says #event. You have now reached your audience as well as anyone who is looking for information on that event by searching the hashtag. Instagram hashtags can allow you to do similar promotions, but with a more artistic and visual flair. I would recommend making sure that whatever hashtag you use is that it is not trademarked and unavailable for use by anyone outside of the organization or that the hashtag has been banned by the platform. Always be sure to follow platform rules when it comes to offering discounts, prizes or contests.
Take advantage of using your own social media channels to promote the larger event and let everyone know how you are participating in it. If I were one of the venues hosting an art piece I might document the installation, interview the artist, allow the artist to take over my Instagram page, or offer opportunities to meet the artist. Think of ways to promote the event and draw people to your location. I also like to recognize my audience that has been with me for some time. This could include inviting them to a small, intimate get together with the artist or offering a deeper discount that is being offered to new fans. The event is a great time to capture email addresses or ask an entirely new audience to follow your social channels, and then for you to be able to provide your new fans with amazing content and information.
There are certain events that swag with your company name would be used and seen by almost everyone at the event. More and more events are requiring that any bag that is brought into the venue must be clear. If you are able to hand out clear backpack in the parking lot of the event, many people would choose to use that to bring their belongings in. How would many tailgating fans refuse a can koozie with your logo on it? Events such as car shows, bridal shows, and even Art Prize have many handouts for those that attend. A nice drawstring bag will be used over and over again allowing for an even more expanded reach of your brand.
If you would like to do a mini-event within the event (such as the street party mentioned below) let the media and any local influencers know. Invite the influencers to attend and offer to cover admission or travel expenses to the event. Check to see if there are local social calendars such as Experience GR here in Grand Rapids and get the event featured on these calendars. Keep in mind that many local TV and radio stations and news outlets have calendars that you can add your event to. Here again, utilize your social media channels such as live-Tweeting or creating a Facebook event which is updated often to create excitement leading up to the day. Thank your attendees and vendors after the event and respond to all comments on your post. These actions will show Facebook that your posts are relevant and timely which will give your posts a boost without having to pay for boosting or ads.
Outstanding Marketing Examples from Art Prize 2017
There have been some great examples of businesses promoting themselves in tandem with the event this year. Founders Brewery has been creating a special brew that celebrates the festival for many years, and this year they created Green Zebra which was quite different from the typical Founders beer in that it was a gose-style ale brewed with watermelon and sea salt – yes I took that directly from Founder’s website. This was a delicious beer that we are trying to get our hands on again before it disappears. Wheelhouse Kitchen created an Art Prize menu including drinks, appetizers, and entrees that were inspired by the works of art that were displayed at the restaurant. Another favorite of mine was that Sundance Grill hosted an Art Prize Street Party that featured Green Zebra, craft cocktails from Long Road Distillery and live music. Long Road Distillery is outside of the typical Art Prize zone but found a great way to participate in the event and get their name out into the community.
Whatever forms of marketing you choose, have fun and create a memorable experience and your audience will grow and return to do business with you.