Fest Practices, Part 5
...continued from Part 4: Train Your People
PROMOTE YOURSELF OR GET LOST
By now, you should have a baseline for which events make fiscal sense while aligned with your company’s goals. Based on what you’re committing to, you’re starting to communicate with the event hosts so you both can meet each other’s expectations. This will help determine which products and what equipment will be required. And, training your people to perform to a higher bar should be threaded throughout every step of preparing for any event.
With your internal vision and activation plan firmly established, now it’s time to tell the world about it.
IF YOU DON’T, YOUR COMPETITION WILL
Promote yourself or get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t care that you’re going to be there, why should anyone else? Let’s assume we’re talking about any event where your competition also exists—a lineup of dozens (or maybe hundreds) of brands all vying for a slice of the crowd’s attention. If you can’t hook me in advance—to entice me enough to go out of my way to find your booth in a sea of thousands of people—you’ll be at the mercy of a game of chance, and the house always wins. You’ll have lost the opportunity to earn new fans (and their money) after the event because you didn’t give them a reason to seek you out during it.
So, how do you cut through the noise? By doing so while it’s still quiet.
INTERNAL HUMAN RESOURCES
Let someone else own it. If you’re the person who has to wear all the hats because your resources are tapped, ask for help. There are savvy go-getters who are hungry for the experience, a promotion, or foot in the door to the industry. Fair trade, win-win.
Employ a graphic designer.
Find a good one on the cheap, and you’re good. Find a great one, and you’re golden. Hire someone you trust to be honest enough with you to tell you that your current logo sucks. Either way, pay them what they’re worth.
This person will create all the digital and print assets you’re going to need to promote your brand, products, and event. Then, turn over those assets to whoever runs your social media.
Yes, you have to be on social media.
Who’s the person on your team who’s on their second write-up because they can’t put their phone away? Put them in charge because they can probably run viral circles around you while you’re still trying to recover your Hotmail password. Might be time to upgrade that email address, too.
If your graphic designer and social media manager work in tandem their work should inject life into your brand and your brand into your fans’ lives. They should function like the rug from The Big Lebowski and tie the room together, dude.
MODEST INVESTMENT, EXPONENTIAL RETURN
You could cut every corner and (get lucky enough to) still achieve your goals without spending a dime. But, you’re going to have to over-compensate your lack of investment with major-impact ingenuity and creativity. How sharp are you?
Whether you job it out or DIY, you’re going to have to budget for at least the basics either in your time or money.
Pro tip: Create one overarching thematic piece of content then repurpose it as needed. Look like you know what you’re doing and format the core piece of creative in both portrait and landscape orientations, ensuring that you’ll be able to crop one of them down to a square without losing any critical elements.
- Flyer | Think print-friendly size (4.25” 5.5”, or 1/4-pg, will get your four flyers per sheet of paper if you’re hustlin’ your own)
- Facebook event | Ask your staff to invite their network of locals, regulars, etc., but not to blanket-invite everyone they know five states away. If the event host has already created a sanctioned event page, you can auto-add it to your brand’s page.
- Instagram Story | Post videos (up to 1 min in length, auto-divided into 15-sec clips), go live, or show the candid, behind-the-scenes fun stuff that proves you’re human.
- #hashtag | Create a fun, event-specific hashtag for your fans to engage with. But, make sure you also follow that hashtag so you can respond.
- YouTube | Do you have an existing channel? If not, and you do a lot of events and have a knack for storytelling, this might be a great resource to start archiving them.
- Press release | If it’s a rather large, high-profile, exclusive, or particularly newsworthy event, the media wants to know about it. Bonus points, it seems, if a non-profit benefits. People gravitate to warm and fuzzy.
- Website | If it’s your event, it’s got to own real estate on your website or, at the very least, be highly visible on your social media. Period.
- Newsletter | If people are voluntarily subscribing to it, they want to know about the cool stuff you’re doing. Tell them. Maybe they get a special perk that no one else does?
- Poster for your taproom (11x17 is the go-to standard you see most often) | Give everyone on staff one or two to tack up at their favorite (non-competing, of course) local hangs.
- Flyer | Done are the days of flyering cars in a parking lot. Instead, present them to guests at the same time you hand them a menu or with their check.
- Menus | If you print new menus regularly, there should always be space allocated for promotions, new releases, etc.
- Draft List | You’ve already got my attention because I’m thirsty. Tease me about what you’ve got going on in addition to what’s available on tap.
COMMUNICATE AND RESPOND
You have to be willing to respond when your audience speaks. Whether it’s a retweet from Taylor Swift, a follow from the person they’re crushing on, or a simple heart or reply from their favorite brewery, people want to be noticed, heard, and appreciated. You don’t have to nor should you stroke the trolls [honestly, F ‘em] because you’re never going to please everyone. However, as much as you can, you should be acknowledging or replying to as many fans who engage with you as possible. It not only makes their day, but they will tell others about it beyond what you’d ever pay for in advertising.