Festival and event marketing – some useful tips

Over the past two plus decades, we’ve been helping people with their events – from intimate in-house dinners to massive outdoor festivals … and pretty much everything in between.

We’ve noticed two common themes that run through them all:

  1. The number of balls the organiser has to juggle, and
  2. The sheer stress they’re under before, during and after

With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to conduct a ‘proper’ survey to identify common trends among organisers – the highs, lows, challenges, stresses and a whole host of other insights.

Once we’ve gathered all the feedback, we’ll produce a report with our findings.

In the meantime, you might be interested to hear a little about what it’s like on our side of the fence ie to be a supplier to an event organiser.

Our involvement varies incredibly from client to client but here’s a selection of the typical questions we get asked:

  • We’ve been running our music festival successfully for many years but think it needs something to liven it up and appeal to a new, younger audience.  Any ideas?
  • We’ve got a huge conference to organise, can you create a name and logo for it and produce all the banners, delegate packs and speaker presentations?
  • We’re thinking of launching an annual awards event, do you think it’s a good idea and what would you do to ensure it’s a success?
  • We want to shout about our firm’s expertise among business owners in Manchester – have you got any ideas?
  • We want to hold an event to thank our top customers for their support.  We’re keen to avoid the same old, same old … any ideas?
  • We’ve got an event in two days’ time but forgot to order branded notepads and pencils, can you help?

Sleepless nights

Holding an event is always a nerve-racking experience and different types of event attract different concerns.

Organisers of larger, outdoor events will undoubtedly be worried about things like tickets sales, the weather, will the acts perform as hoped, let alone turn up!

Meanwhile, those running smaller events – typically seminars and talks – will have their own anxieties.  Why hasn’t anyone RSVP’d? Will those that have, actually turn up?  How many reminders will make you look desperate?

We’ve all attended or heard about events where an enthusiastic, well-briefed and eager speaker or panel, are faced with an audience you could count on two hands. To help avoid such a situation,here are two useful rules of thumb for you to bear in mind:

  • Expect only circa 30% of people to accept an invitation
  • On the day, expect 30% no shows

So … if you want 50 guests at an event, you’ll need to invite 240 people.

But that’s just the numbers. 

Far more important to running a successful, well-attended event is the need to create something that is genuinely going to appeal to your target audience.  In other words, if you’re holding a business event, forget about topics you want to ‘force’ on someone and think what your audience would like to hear about. 

With some clever creative thinking, you’ll be able to marry the two into a compelling proposition so you convey what you want to and your audience feels satisfied.

Next, whether a business or consumer event, you need to promote it really well using some or all of the following:

  • Creation of an enticing/memorable name and visual identity
  • A dedicated website or, at the very least, a page on your existing website
  • Persuasive invitations and eshots
  • Publicity through media relations and social media
  • Advertising, both digital and print

Naturally, you’ll need to tailor your activity according to your event.

If yours is a small business event, you’ll only want a select number of individuals.  It stands to reason you’ll rely on personalised invitations but don’t rule out other ways to market it if you’re not hitting your numbers.  A well-placed press release or highly targeted campaign on LinkedIn, for instance, can help boost response levels while maintaining an air of exclusivity.

As for larger events – whether corporate or leisure – then your activity needs ramping up significantly.  In fact, one of the topics we are covering in our survey is the type and amount of marketing activity event organisers undertake. 

If you’d like a copy of the report once it’s completed, please complete the survey https://www.thisisrms.co.uk/sectors/festivals-events/ before Friday 28 February 2020.