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Event Advertising Ideas from Promoters
By Louis Marquette
- a CraftLister.com Craft Expert about page personal website
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I recently asked promoters for tips and advice on event advertising. Here are some interesting responses:
I send announcements for the community events calendars to about 8-10 local papers. I have a mailing list, I put up fliers everywhere, and I have very nice A-frame signs to place around town. I had a lot of problems with one particular town as far as permits and signage as did the food vendor who does my shows and has never had a problem before.
I went nuts with advertising last year, spending much more than I could or should have. I learned a good lesson though, and have streamlined my choices for this year. I always place an ad in a regional bazaar guide, plus a few select local papers. I have listings on several internet guides as well. Every vendor agrees to post flyers in their area, supplied by me. I send out a press release about two weeks prior to every radio and television station, and post on every free news site in the area. I also visit all the bazaars in my area starting in September (my show is in November), and leave bag stuffer sized flyers. If a show will repeat after mine, I offer to take their flyers to place on my community information table. This is a great way to network with other promoters in your area. I even call late November and December promoters to offer a spot on the table for their flyers. Some are suspicious and think there's catch, but I tell them I just want my table to be full, and to offer my shoppers as much choice as I can. Several have shown up to "check us out", and have shopped.
We have a monthly show, and spend ~$1200-1500 promoting it, which is rock bottom. About $6-10,000 people attend each month. Most of the vendor fees goes to hiring entertainment, which is a big drawing card.
On the cheap--we hang posters, leave 1/4 or 1/3 page flyers on counters in stores and gas stations, put up flyers (Always put up 6 or so in a stack on every bulletin board so that people can take them home. It doesn't take up any more room). We advertise in every small town's local paper/newsletter. Contact town halls for info on that. They usually have room for an article along with the ad. Also, ads in any local business' newsletter goes to a targeted audience of people who shop in that town. Fabric, craft stores send 1/4ly publications, appreciate the $25-$50 ad, and you've made an ally who will help promote the event.
If you have music, the college radio stations will promote that for free. Make a PSA. Send them 50 copies of the information so that every single DJ gets it in their hand. Look on every private radio stations' website for the DJ's that promote your type of music, and mail them a packet or 3, or even a CD from the band.
We put up lawn signs just a few days before the events, and take them down right after. No complaints about the graffiti, but they are a great "reminder" tool. No details needed, not even the date. People driving can't absorb/see details. They also help with traffic, since locals take alternate routes when reminded by the signs.
Local papers have feature writers. We feed them lots of detailed info, and call them. They love to talk about a band, or a few vendors, rather than about the whole show. Feed them a few unique or quality contacts.
The "mantra" is that people need to see or hear about the event at least 3 times before they think about coming.
I am not a large promoter, in fact, I only run one show a year. The reason I am responding to your request for information from promoters to improve the attendance, and disposition of the crafters is because the one show I have is a successful one. I myself have been a crafter for about 17 years. I have seen this craft fair world from both sides. There is no doubt that most of the fairs that are running now fail to advertise to the extent that is necessary. Some organizations run their shows on the fact that it has been successful in the past and people will come. There are so many avenues that are available now to let the public know that the fair is going to take place. Don�t let greed get in the way of advertising. I run the Winter Wonderland of Gifts Craft Show in November at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT. In the spring I start handing out � page flyers to every customer I have. I have an additional stack on my table at every show I�m in. In the acceptance package I include this same flyer for the crafters to copy, cut and distribute. I also remind them that handing these out helps them as much as us. In the spring I also start listing the show on every craft schedule web site and community event site that is available to me. One month prior to the fair I place 250 flyers in store windows and community bulletin boards in Newtown and the surrounding towns. Two weeks prior to the show I place 50 signs up in key located corners in all of the surrounding towns. The week prior to the show I place paid ads, $900.00 worth in the four area newspapers.. The way the money is raised for these ads is through a program that we print to give the customers. I go to area businesses and ask them to place ads in it and then use that money very wisely. In addition to those ads I place community calendar listings. I send it into the local radio stations and the local cable station. I also send out letters to the area churches, synagogues, and community groups to post on their bulletin boards. In fact there is never too much advertising. Last Halloween my daughter put on a billboard for the fair and we went to the local mall and handed out flyers. The day of the show I put out a large 4 foot x 4 foot sandwich board sign with balloons. I have a few last words to say to the folks that are organizing these shows. Be fair to the crafters. We like coffee and bagels in the morning, we like clean bathrooms, food available at lunch time, and help bringing our stuff in and out of the show. We don�t like a show overstuffed with the same type of items, such as 5 jewelers, people in the show that don�t make the items that they are selling or a show with a false account of last years attendance. We base were we are going to work on a given day by those figures.
I'm responding in regards to advertising for craft shows. Our shows are
held in a resort town. Banners are very effective and we put ours up a week or two before the event at both entrances into town. We also give vendors postcards to hand out at various shows they participate in
advertising that they will be at our show, location, hours, etc. Also, we have fliers made up in the summer months for our show which is held in November and distribute them to hotels here in town for their rack card holders. Advertising is also done a month in advance on billboards entering and leaving the town plus in surrounding states. Newspapers are usually done the week before the event. We put paid ads in these papers along with press releases which go out a month in advance to local free papers which visitors tend to pick up when in town. I believe advertising is an important part of putting on a show for the CRAFTERS!
I am a show director/promoter for a small local show (inside, only room for 40 booths) I tell all perspective exhibitors that it is a small show. Our advertising budget is small, too. I found that the beverage companies (Coke, Pepsi) will sell white vinyl banners 8 ft. long for a minimal cost. You will have to print your own message, but the price is great. Here, we have a local flea market that has a guy that makes adhesive banners, like you see on car windows, and he made a large title banner for me to go on one of the blank vinyl banners. Looked very professional! Take time to do a good print job and these work as well as the more expensive printed banners. I also use a mailing list of customers and mail postcards a couple of weeks before the show. I use road-side signs; our city requires a bond to do this, but the fee is refunded when all the signs are removed after the show. I still have a problem with some disappearing. Some people think they can print over them for their yard sales! I have tried newspaper inserts, but it was very expensive and didn't seem to help attendance. A radio remote broadcast would be ideal, but is also very, very expensive. I will have some people with billboards at the main intersection outside of the festival to draw in more people. I encourage local churches and clubs to set up a fund-raiser booth. This helps their organization/causes and their attendance encourages people they know to attend, and, hopefully, buy. I found out that most franchises will not let you post flyers. Locally owned businesses are usually co-operative.
My bazaar is in it's sixth year. I am lucky to live in a community where road signs are allowed, so we use them a lot. We made our own, and they are simple, but colorful, with big arrows to point the way. They really do bring in extra shoppers. I also spend a good part of the day waving at traffic, dressed as my alter ego, Mrs. Clause. Santa, who arrives at 1:00 on bazaar day spends time waving also. Last year, I added a "reindeer", my dog, Charlie, who very graciously wore antlers the whole time! To bring in more families, we set up a large "country cabin" back drop, complete with large fireplace, lit tree, etc., and allow people to bring their own cameras to take FREE photos with Santa. We also encourage people to bring their pets for the photo. We have repeat customers who come every year to take their family's Christmas card photos, then they stay to shop, shop, shop! I always offer a free booth to a local non-profit group for fund raising and awareness. I feed my vendors. Not a complete meal mind you, but I have beverages, muffins, bagels, etc. FREE to all my registered vendors throughout the day. I have a staff of "elves" who volunteer to watch booths while vendors use the restroom, and to bring them their refreshments throughout the day. I set up a kids play and craft area, right on the stage near the Santa area. The kids get to play while mom and dad stand in line. That way, there are no tears, fidgeting, or potty accidents while waiting their turn on the big guy's lap. As you can see, we are VERY family oriented. I want happy humans around me at all times, and these little extras make it so, every year. Even the vendors who don't sell much, or anything at all, have such a good time they hunt me down at the end of the day to say thank you. I've been hugged, and even received thank you gifts. I have several repeat vendors every year. It's not a huge show, last year I had 46 vendors register with 42 showing up for our one-day show. Our attendance was just over 300. Better than the previous year, but of course, never enough!
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