Promoting the Promotion
Creating an Event for Results
By Kurtis Katz, CMO/Partner
Have you ever heard the phrase “If you build it, they will come?” This phrase was made famous in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams and it’s synonymous with “if you promote it, they will come.” There is some truth to these statements, although there are definitely a lot more factors that come into play when creating and driving consumers to your created or sponsored event. If that wasn’t the case then there would be no need for advertising agencies, social media, web sites or marketing companies etc.
I have worked on many experiential and promotional campaigns with big brands and advertising agencies for the past 20 years and the one marketing element that continually gets over-looked as campaigns are being strategized and created is the “Promoting the Promotion” aspect. Why is that? It seems to be common sense… at least, you would think. From my humble experience, I’ve have come across five reasons why I believe this marketing component of Promoting the Promotion gets missed in event campaigns.
- In-house creative and marketing departments often work in silos rather than in collaboration: The creative side strategizes and spends most of their time working on the look and the feel of the brand or better yet, the packaging or messaging of the brand to the consumers. The marketing side of the event or promotion spends most their time on the creation of the display properties and the logistics of the promotion or the event. Like the creative side, they tend to focus on the look and feel, but from an on-site point of view. Both play a vital role in the equation, but at the end of the day, they fail to address the gap of Promoting the Promotion during the planning phase of the event. Therefore it either gets completely left out or they attempt an 11th hour plan of pre-promotion that most of the time is too little too late.
- Budgets: Agencies and companies often spend too much of their budget up front on the event sponsorship or the creative concept and by the time the event is created and ready to launch, there is no budget left to pre-promote what the agency created. It truly becomes an after- thought in the whole event process. Budgets must address every facet of the event including Promoting the Promotion. It will make a significant impact in your event attendance and consumer metrics.
- Staffing: This might be the biggest challenge when it comes to adding the Promoting the Promotion element to the event. A lot of agencies and companies have cut back on their staffs while still maintaining the high level of workload for each staff member. Most project managers I work with are doing the work of 2-3 people. They are constantly working on numerous and various projects at the same time. As a result, the project manager focuses on the meat of their project duties and the pre-promotion gets put on the back burner, in turn becoming too late to include in the event. Agencies and companies must consider designating an individual or even another agency to tackle the Promoting the Promotion element to their event. Don’t let a lack of staffing be your down fall to promoting your event – you have way too much invested.
- Working closer with your agency or vendor partners: Most agencies and companies say or believe that they have a great working relationship with their vendor partners and, for the most part, this is true. But the question remains – do they take full advantage of their vendors’ expertise in the event and promotion biz or do they use them for just one aspect of the event (i.e. event activation)? In other words, some of your partners can bring a lot more to the table in helping you promote your events as part of their services. If you involve your partners early and often, most likely they have the capabilities and will deliver the pre-promotion element to the event or promotion. This can save you on budget and it will certainly bring better consumer participation and results.
- Planning/Timing: Here is the one area I run into the most when working with agencies and companies. In many cases, they are trying to turn around the execution of the event or promotion within weeks or days. I realize that sometimes they really have no control over the timing because it may be a product timing issue or just the timing of a sponsored event. But if possible, this can all be alleviated by starting the planning process much earlier and getting their partners involved from the beginning. In the planning process, you can set the tone for the program by establishing an event timeline, goals and metrics to track the success of the event. This will also insure that all marketing elements will be included especially the pre-promotion element.
Here are five promotional tactics to consider when Promoting the Promotion prior to your sponsored or created event. It’s recommended that events be promoted 2-4 weeks out from the start of your event.
- Social Media: Websites, Facebook page, Twitter feed – updating on a regular basis.
- Public Relations: Creating a high awareness campaign using bloggers and/or stunts.
- Street Teams: Send out brand ambassadors in the market to pre-promote.
- Media: Utilize your TV, radio, print or outdoor assets.
- Database Marketing: Utilize your customer data base from past event promotions and send out email blasts to those current customers.