K2M recently was involved in a community event, a brand new event, one that a small cultural organization was putting on in a venue new to them. How do you get people to come to a one-time only event, especially if you are a small organization with few board members? What are the best marketing and public relations moves when you have no data on previous programs? What will work?
The answer we discovered, fortunately and unfortunately, is DO EVERYTHING!
We say unfortunately, because every idea takes time to execute. We say fortunately because we received immediate feedback that every little bit counts. So what did we try?
- Paid advertisement in local community magazine. This lets your core group know that your organization is alive and well and doing programming. This is an expensive element, but it’s sort of counterintuitive. Even if the ad isn’t necessarily “money well spent”, not spending the money makes you look defunct and inactive.
- Non-paid pre-publicity in community newspapers. We discovered that some people came from as far as Lansing from a tweet they received from Metro Times. So that worked, too!
- Facebook posts. For the aged 40-65 crowd, this is the same as word of mouth and it’s free. The organizational Facebook post was important, but even more so, were the reposts and shares and likes.
- Facebook ads: These are relatively inexpensive and our survey indicated several people attended and were at the event because of the ad.
- Information on the website: Your website has to be accurate and up to date if the website address appears on ads. People will go to the website if they forget the address of the venue or the time. It is not “outbound” but it is dependable inbound marketing. And when they go, the website needs to look presentable and inhabited.
- The sandwich board on the street with the poster and the arrow to your event. If a tired law school student walks by and realizes there is a concert around the corner with free cookies and water, it looks pretty tempting.
So, the takeaway: do everything you have time and money for. And ask every attendee you can how they heard about the event, so you can use data-driven decisions in the future.