in Bennington, Vermont
Promotion is a lot of work, but don't be overwhelmed. Enlist friends and committee members to proof your material and help get the word out. Remember, an event can be effective with only a few of these steps depending on the type of audience you are trying to reach.
If you are producing a lot of events, or if you want to market yourself and your art all the time without having to do the direct outreach listed below, it is helpful to have a Facebook or Instagram page and website in place.
Facebook and Instagram are free and pretty simple to use (at least for the millennial generation!). Both rely heavily on digital images and regular postings in order to be most effective, so make sure you start snapping away now. If you are not comfortable using these platforms send an email to us here at the BAAC. If we have enough interest we can schedule a professional development session!
Websites cost a bit of money to have, but the cost can be worth it to lend some legitimacy to your organization, or to brand what you do. Platforms like WIX and Squarespace are very user friendly, but do still require a bit of tech know-how in order to get them set-up. However, once your website is up it can function basically as a digital business card. Websites can be dynamic tools, but as long as all information is current they can also be static and just have a link to Facebook for any special upcoming events.
Specific Event Strategies
For events, there are a few basic ways to reach a lot of different audiences. Different folks access information in different ways. Be diverse.
1. Word of Mouth and small handouts are often the best! When you personally invite someone to an event because you think they will enjoy it, they are more likely to come!
2. Posters, Postcards and Signage
Print/make Sandwich Boards and install Lawn Signs around town
Send a simple postcard/save the date mailer or leave stacks of postcards around town- people are more likely to attend an event if they have a reminder in their pocket.
Don't neglect HOTELS and B&Bs- the hospitality industry loves to show off everything our community can offer!
3. Direct Email & Newsletters
Use a nice format like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or MadMimi that engages with images and links. Most of these have non-profit pricing plans. There is nothing wrong with your personal email list, per se, but these formats are valuable mainly for their tracking and sorting capabilities. Note: some websites come with their own form of newsletters, and some websites easily link with specific services, so if you are planning a full-scale marketing overhaul, just make sure to do your research before you buy.
4. Social Media
Create a Facebook Event (yes, you have to have a Facebook page to do this).
Invite all of your friends and if you have a friend who is a pusher, make her a co-sponsor so that she can help get out the word.
Make a list of groups in the area who have followers that might be interested in what you do and share your event to those group pages: Ex: Bennington Bulletin and Bennington Area Arts Council.
Private message your event to anyone whom you really want to be paying attention. Event invites can easily be overlooked when someone (or a group) has a busy schedule, but most people are happy to pass on the word if asked directly.
Do not be afraid to use the BOOST as a way to effectively target your audience. You can set your price, your timeline and your desired marketing criteria and then you can track your progress. For smaller events, $10 will absolutely do the trick.
5. Press Releases and Publicity
The first line of your press release should clearly state the event, date and time. The press release should not run more than one page and should not be written in 1st person. Many papers do not have time to do extensive edits and so the release has a better chance of running if it is in this format. Press releases can be sent via an email platform or via a person email. If sent in a personal email, send both PDF and Word versions and make sure to include at least one image. If you have more images or videos, or if you are sending via an email platform, you should say "contact for more images" at the bottom, but do not attach multiple large files in a personal email as it will likely bounce.
It is always helpful to make personal contacts within the press world. It is fine to email or call those contacts individually to make sure they have received the listing and also to see if they will be able to attend the event. Press Releases are very important, but it is even better if you are also able to have a reporter do an in-depth piece on your project. And then, make sure to share that on social media!
Your Press Release needs to have a header that includes the following information:
Logo (If applicable)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Website or facebook (if applicable)
Title of Event
One Line Description of Event
Online Calendars: Submitting your events to online calendars is no doubt the most time consuming process. The main benefit of these is that your event or organization will ultimately start to show up higher in google searches, which contributes to an overall awareness of your brand or product. Tips: Save the calendars for last. Enlist volunteer help here if you can. Choose your market area judiciously so that you don't waste time. You can find a link to a 2018 updated press and calendar spreadsheet HERE.
6. Paid Advertising
If your organization or event is large enough, you can certainly benefit from purchasing advertisement packages with some of the regional publications and radio stations. The Bennington Banner, WAMC and the Vermont Newsguide are great places to start are exploring your options.