Pull out your sunglasses, sunscreen and coolers and grab a bomb pop, it’s summer! This season is jam-packed with events and places to reach your consumer where they play; in a setting where people expect to have fun and enjoy out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Events provide a unique marketing opportunity to attract attention and get new customers.
While small to medium businesses often utilize online or direct mail methods to promote their products and services, many fail to advertise in their own backyards. With opportunities ranging from large trade shows with very specific target markets, to local community festivals and sporting events, not taking advantage these to promote your business could be a huge miss on a valuable opportunity to grow.
Finding and Selecting the Right Event
When selecting the right event for your business, audience is everything. Consider what types of events your customer or potential customer is most likely to attend. If selling to families with small children, you will likely focus on small community events with activities for kids to keep them occupied long enough to connect with parents. In addition to providing information on its reputation, timing, location and the advertising or sponsorship opportunities it offers, established events should be able to provide demographics such as a breakdown of ages, ethnicities and gender, etc. to help you make an informed decision.
Estimated and historic attendance is equally important to know in order to determine approximately how many people you could reach during the event, and to gauge whether it’s worth your time. While events with large attendance figures within the 60,000-100,000+ range might often seem like the way to go, sometimes more intimate events expecting an attendance of 12,000-35,000 may bring a more specific target demographic that provides better quality interactions, rather than just a high number of interactions. Also, depending on your team, resources and goals, consider the length of the event. A one-day event that attracts a large, focused group may prove to be more valuable than a multiple-day event or vice versa.
Types of Events to Consider
Community events are typically small and attract a local audience perfect for smaller businesses. Offering a more defined, geo-targeted demographic, these types of events allow you to customize your marketing directly to your consumer for a personal impact. Localized family-friendly events like Gahanna’s Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival is a perfect example.
Large fairs and festivals, on the other hand, attract a much broader audience. The Ohio State Fair, for example, draws consumers from a much larger radius from beyond the center city, even out of state. These events boast quantity and are great if you’re looking for awareness and obtaining lots of leads.
Hip and alternative events generally lend themselves to a younger demographic and are great for those looking to have a creative presence. Sampling and premium prizes go over well at these events as well as high-tech experiences like augmented reality, interactive digital displays and integrated creative social media strategies. Look into arts and music festivals such as FMMF Fashion Meets Music Festival and the Columbus Food Truck Festival for these types of interactions.
Educational- and awareness-driven events are excellent for companies who want to promote an important message or teach something. EcoFest in Grove City, for example, could be ideal for businesses looking to promote energy efficiency, gardening or environmental messages.
Even consider venues with no real event, but instead offer space within high-traffic areas and a steady crowd. Atypical event spaces can offer unique opportunities for creative marketing campaigns and include local venues such as the Columbus Commons and Easton Town Center. All summer around the city one can find a host of local concert series that draw small crowds, but offer considerable recognition for your company or brand. Polaris Fashion Place just recently kicked of it’s fist “Polaris Live!” concert series for shoppers to enjoy music and family-friendly activities. Looking to target ‘stay at home’ moms? This might be the event for you.
Make the Most of Your Event Participation
One thing is for sure, if you don’t let people know you’ll be at an event, they won’t come. Take advantage of what perks the event offers when purchasing vendor space, but especially if you’re a sponsor at the event. Inquire about pre-event promotional benefits through online event listings and event marketing materials. Ask to be listed on the event’s website, mentioned via their social media channels and in printed programs to be distributed at the event, as well as opportunities to place signage through the event site. Additionally, utilize the event’s media contacts to coordinate media buys and garner potential publicity during the event. Lastly, negotiate your on-site location so that you’re in a prime sport near main entrances and visible to the majority of attendees—you don’t want to be passed by!
For a comprehensive list of local events for your brand or business, check out Columbus Underground’s festival event list. And remember, being part of an event is a partnership – you need the event to attract the right audience and the event needs your participation to pull off a great experience. By selecting the appropriate event and working closely with event coordinators to best promote your business, you can be sure your backyard marketing will be a great success this summer!
— Event Marketing Strategies (EMS) is an experiential engagement agency helping companies to create unique and memorable connections with their audience. If you’re looking for unique ways to differentiate your product or service at an event, EMS can help you access your consumers face-to-face so you can build brand equity, gain product and service exposure, and most importantly, drive results. To learn more about our services and capabilities, visit eventmarketingstrategies.com. —