I love a good promotion. It makes my heart soar when I see a clever angle created by a marketer to get me into their doors. There is a fine line between Marketing and Public Relations—especially in the arts—and this is one of those times when the line blurs.
Ever since the first Sport Manager realized that they could still get customers to go to a losing team if they gave away bats, the Promotional Event was born.
The benefits of Promotional Events are multiple. If done correctly, they
1) Increase your audience attendance
2) Increase your chances at press
3) Increase Word of Mouth
4) Offer up inexpensive donor and volunteer opportunities
What makes a good promotional event?
The event should support the art, not the other way around. You wouldn’t give out baseballs at an opera performance, and you wouldn’t have a masked ball at a baseball game.
Promotional events should be cheap. You should use your audience to cross-promote with other businesses that want to attract your demographic. Business will ALWAYS be happy to give product over money. Use that.
DON’T EXPECT A LOT FROM YOUR AUDIENCE
People will attend promotional events where they can be spectators, very rarely do they want to get involved. During a recent Sing Along with Sound of Music concert they had a costume contest where patrons were encouraged to come as their favorite character. 3,000 attended, one came in costume.
CONTESTS ARE NOT PROMOTIONS
Well, they are, but not good ones.
You’re smart, and hopefully creative, come up with events that will fuel the audience’s imaginations, and more importantly get the press excited about your event—and therefore, show.
DON’T SUBSTITUTE YOUR ART FOR ANOTHER
Getting a great band to play in your museum will attract audiences, but audiences for the band—not your art. You don’t want to be put in the position where you are now selling two arts events.
NOBODY REALLY CARES ABOUT YOUR ARTISTS
Unless they are famous--I mean, really famous. So don’t think about creating roundtable discussions with actors, or a one on one lecture by your conductor. Nobody cares.
1) Little known birthdays: (Shakespeare, Beethoven, Van Gogh)
2) Free Stuff (products, food, samples)
3) Activities (makeovers, massages, paper-making, cooking displays)
4) Trade discounts for participation (bring canned goods, get a discount)
5) Plan early, be prepared for a lot of “no’s.”
6) Get volunteers to work the event.