How to Promote a Festival
Festivals are a great way to bring money into a community and get locals excited about an upcoming event. Whether you throw a music festival that features local artists, a festival built around a local flower or even a festival relating to a specific hobby, there are some easy ways to promote your event online and off.
Give Yourself Time
Woodstock was one of the greatest festivals of all time, but it also serves as an example of why promoters should plan in advance. Guests of that festival had little access to food, safe drinking water and even bathrooms. Unless you want a disaster on your hands, you should start planning that festival at least six months ahead of time. This gives you plenty of time to secure permits, find talent, locate vendors and inform the general public of the event.
Partner with Local Companies
Hosting a festival is a great way to bring money to your city, but you can help local companies make more money too through partnerships that you form. Those companies might agree to pay a small amount of money to advertise themselves in your pamphlets and brochures, or they might agree to put up signs that promote the festival for free. You can also exchange goods and services with each other. Agree to put a company's name on promotional materials in exchange for the company putting festival signs and other advertising materials up around the business.
Create a Hashtag
It wasn't that long ago that hashtags were a Twitter exclusive, but the top social media sites now use those hashtags too. Selecting a hashtag for your festival lets you create posts that let others know about the event. Others who attended a past festival or plan on coming to the latest festival can use that hashtag and let others know about it too. Creating and using a hashtag can help you reach millions of people around the world and let people who never heard of the festival know why they should attend. Make sure you pick a hashtag that relates to your event and is not too similar to those that already exist.
Posting a few videos online is a great way to increase the excitement surrounding your festival. Though some think they need expensive camera equipment and microphones, you can create short videos that go viral with just your cell phone camera. Post videos that show you talking with locals about what they love about the festival, what their favorite parts of past festivals were and why they plan on attending this year. You can also share videos of construction workers building sets and vendors talking about what they'll sell at the festival.
Launch a Website
You absolutely cannot expect your festival to be a success without having a website. With the right marketing and SEO terms, you can quickly move that site to the top of the search rankings. You can hire writers online to create articles about upcoming events and things they can do at the festival, but you can also easily create some of that content on your own. The official website should include a detailed schedule that shows the date(s) of the festival and what visitors can do. You should also include information on local hotels where guests can stay and what sellers need to do to set up at the event.
Highlight the Behind the Scenes Workers
The most successful festivals often have dozens or even hundreds of people working behind the scenes. These events have volunteers who help set up tables and special displays, workers securing permits and taking care of business and even individuals responsible for working on the official website and social media sites. Take the time to highlight some of those individuals and draw attention to all the work they did. This may excite some people so much that they call or email you about becoming a volunteer too.
Get a Sponsor
When you look at popular festivals, you'll find that the one thing those events have in common is that each one has a corporate sponsor. Coca-Cola and Pepsi both sponsor major festivals as a way of marketing and advertising to visitors. Even if you think that your event is too small to get a corporate sponsor, send out emails to major companies located in your state and across the country. These corporations may send you money to cover some of your expenses or agree to donate supplies in exchange for signs that you put up around the festival.
Use Social Media
While launching a website is a great way to promote an upcoming festival, you'll also want to use social media to your advantage. In addition to using hashtags on Twitter, create a dedicated account for your festival on sites like Instagram and Facebook. Include links to all those sites from your main page too. Those sites let followers like your posts and share pictures, videos and updates to get others excited about the festival. You can even create a Pinterest account and create boards dedicated to the people working on the festival, the top activities visitors can do and the bands or artists performing at the event.
Though there are hundreds of ways you can promote your festival, don't forget about promotional products and giveaways. Hosting a Facebook contest that awards two free tickets to the festival to a user who likes and shares a recent update can help you reach thousands of people or more at a time. You can also give away prizes from your sponsors and partners to those who use your hashtag and submit a picture of themselves at the festival. Other promotional items you can give out include can coolers, tee shirts, hats, coffee mugs and gift certificates.
The most successful festivals are those that give visitors an experience they cannot get anywhere else. Using the right promotional tools and techniques can help you throw the best festival your town ever saw.