Have you ever tried promoting an event in summer? It's not easy. Concerts, sporting events, art festivals, fun runs and other events are all in full swing once the weather warms up. Luckily, we've got a few tips on cutting through the clutter to successfully market your summer event.
1. Plan ahead
Once you've come up with your strategy, you can enjoy the heady rush of designing flyers, calling up media contacts, and pushing out Facebook blasts. But before all that, you need to prepare.
Open up a calendar—be it paper or digital—and plot out the remaining time until your event. If you're in charge of marketing several events, how much time is between each one? It's a good idea to figure out when major holidays and local events are happening and, if possible, adjust your event's timing to capitalize on the crowds. You may even want to consider moving the event if it falls on a day or weekend that's jam-packed with other options. Take an informal poll of local residents—if a healthy percentage find your event attractive enough to ditch competing celebrations, that's a sign to move ahead.
When a date is set, it's easier to get firm commitments from others. Does your neighborhood BBQ require the use of 15 borrowed crockpots? Does your booth at the farmer's market need 100 glossy brochures? Your life will be much easier if you confirm participation in advance and follow up at appropriate intervals.
2. Pick a theme
A themed event will stick in people's heads and stand out from the competition. I once saw a gorgeous poster advertising a Halloween event with a "Ghosts of the Old West" theme, complete with a haunted saloon and O.K. to Die Corral. It was fun, novel, and made a big impression. Coming up with a compelling theme requires a little bit of imagination and a lot of confidence. You can sell almost any idea—just make sure your refreshments, supplementary activities and messaging are consistent with the theme.
If the theme utilizes puns or subtle references, you'll want to let your team in on the joke, and include expository images or text on your marketing materials. For example, I recently created a poster for a roller derby game that was titled "April Fool's Xanadu." For those who aren't familiar with the play or movie of the same name, it might be confusing. But add some funky 70s lettering and a roller-skating diva with flowing hair, and it's clear that we're referencing the disco classic.
The inspirational poster is on the right—see the elements I borrowed?
3. Use the right tools
Few people have time to mess around with difficult software programs. But how else can you create great-looking collateral like posters, invitations, flyers and brochures? We recommend Lucidpress as a simple alternative to Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher, or (shudder) word processing programs. Unlike the latter, Lucidpress was built for design and layout work, and it's far easier to use than pricier counterparts. The thoughtfully designed interface and easy import/export options will help you get the word out. You can publish your documents to the web, share to social media, download to print at home, or order prints online.
4. Get a rhythm down
This step can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. For example, you can plan to do a social media blast every once in a while, just to stay on everyone's radar. Or, you can create a cadence of collecting information, designing and approving artwork, ordering high-quality prints, hanging up posters and handing out flyers, and getting press from local media outlets—all at key intervals. Your approach will depend on the number of events, your level of commitment, and whether you have a dependable team to lean on. In the summer months, we recommend a purposeful, repeatable pattern of activity—anything less is unlikely to garner attention.
5. Go old school
We live in a digital age, but face-time and printed materials still have their place. In warm weather, your target market will be milling about town and enjoying outdoor activities, so why not join them? Promote your event by marching in parades and distributing flyers with candy. Ask local businesses if you can hand out flyers on their property—or at the very least, tack them onto corkboards and front counters. Team up with a local radio station or television channel to cross-promote, or co-sponsor an outdoor event. You'll build lasting relationships, and you'll enjoy the shared publicity. Best of all, you're making a tangible impression on the community. Digital marketing just doesn't have the same impact.