When promoting an event, you need to know your audience and find the best way to reach them. That’s where good integrated direct marketing comes in. For the past six years, we have been working with the League of NH Craftsmen to promote its prestigious Annual Craftsmen’s Fair, a nine-day event that begins the first week in August. Despite bad weather or downturns in the economy (or both), the attendance has been consistently high over the years. Our campaigns consist of advertising, postcard mailings, e-mails, posters, public relations and, more recently, social media. All channels drive people to the League’s website to learn more and buy tickets to the Fair.
We conduct onsite surveys during the Fair, and use the results to refine our campaign and to determine if we successfully reached our target. For example, we had been promoting the Fair at national tourism venues like the New York Times Travel Show. This really paid off as the metro New York area is the 3rd highest among states for attendance.
Historically, the demographic for the Fair has been women in the 40 to 60 age range. To sustain the success of the Fair and bring in new people to see and buy fine craft, we needed some fresh blood. That meant reaching a younger audience. The obvious answer was social media.
Like many other organizations, the League was slow to using Facebook and Twitter. So for the 2010 Fair, we made it a key component of our promotion. We conducted a viral campaign to have the members and supporters of the League “like” the Fair Facebook page and ask their friends and customers to do the same. All advertising, postcards, emails, and posters, as well as the Fair website, included the message to Find us on Facebook. We regularly posted items about the Fair to generate interest and drive fans to the website to buy tickets.
As direct marketers, we know that a good offer boosts response, so we held two contests using Facebook. One ran before the Fair, asking people to create posts about the Fair and link back to the Fair Facebook page; the offer was free tickets to the Fair. The other contest occurred during the Fair. We asked people to post photos of themselves at the Fair to win a handcrafted, limited-edition holiday ornament.
Getting social through Facebook really paid off! We acquired 526 new fans between May 25 (the start of our social media campaign) and August 7 (the start of the Fair). And according to our onsite surveys, a high percentage of females in the 30 to 45 range indicated that they learned about the Fair through Facebook. The craftspeople who participated in the Fair also reported that, along with their regular customers, they were selling to a younger audience. In fact, while we were at the Fair, a couple, who seemed to be in their early 30s, came into the Fair office to tell the staff how much they enjoyed their first visit and that they planned to come again. That’s exactly what we wanted to hear!