Have you ever attended a festival? If so, you probably have vibrant memories of the events that took place, the sights you saw, and of course, the delicious food you ate.
Festivals are popular event types because they offer audience members a fun and engaging experience. And, festivals can build stronger relationships between your audience members and your organization’s brand through in-person interactions and exciting activities.
Your organization might be planning an upcoming festival and building your festival strategy. One of the most important aspects of your festival planning process is creating your marketing approach. Without a strong marketing plan, you may not be able to get enough people to attend your festival. This means you could fall short of your revenue targets and attendance goals.
In this guide, we’ll review top strategies for creating an effective festival marketing strategy. We’ll cover:
9 Best Practices for Festival Marketing
A strong marketing strategy builds excitement for your event, encourages people to get involved, and boosts your organization’s or event’s reputation within your community. Let’s dive in to learn more!
9 Best Practices for Festival Marketing
1. Create a marketing strategy well in advance.
Planning a festival requires lots of work, and it’s crucial to create your marketing strategy well ahead of time before the big day. Many organizations start planning several months in advance, and some even start the process a year or more in advance to leave room for any obstacles or adjustments.
Be sure to review your previous festival marketing strategies and see what worked and what didn’t. This allows you to determine which strategies to reuse and what you should do differently.
2. Conduct audience research.
Determine which demographic you’re trying to target and create an audience persona to help you reach this audience effectively. A persona help you understand your audience members on a deeper level and determine the best ways to communicate with them.
For instance, you might determine your target marketing audience for your annual apple festival is people between the ages of 30-45 who have young children. Then, you can create your marketing materials based on what you think would appeal to this audience. For example, you might promote your festival’s kid-friendly activities, like your face painting or pony rides.
When you understand what excites and motivates your audience members, you can more easily attract them to your festival.
Conducting audience research will also help you determine which platforms to use to market your festival. For instance, if your demographic is between the ages of 18-24, Instagram is a great place to reach out. Or, if your target audience is working professionals, then LinkedIn would be a suitable platform. Researching the current trends and behaviors of your audience is vital in helping you reach the right people in the right place.
3. Optimize your festival’s brand.
Optimize your festival’s brand by incorporating uniform brand elements to boost brand awareness and recognition among your target audience. This is a great way to make your festival stand out.
Here are a few event branding best practices:
Create exciting, stylish event graphics - Visuals make a big difference in helping you market your festival and communicate what it’s all about. Your graphics should follow your festival’s color palette and typography to maintain consistency, and remember to use high-quality images to really catch the viewer’s attention!
Ensure your brand is cohesive across all marketing channels - Cohesive branding across all marketing channels helps increase brand recognition. Try to deliver the same message with the same brand elements on every communication channel to avoid any confusion. Maintaining a consistent look, tone, and style presents a high quality of professionalism.
Come up with unique brand ideas - Get creative by offering a swag bag for attendees or an event passport to enter to make things exciting. This will leave your attendees with something that reminds them of your festival and encourages them to come again next year. Also, when they wear or use your event merchandise, they spread even more brand awareness within the community.
4. Make the most of each social media platform.
There are approximately 3.78 billion users worldwide, and this number will only continue to grow. Social media platforms are a great place to implement audience interaction strategies with the fun and unique features of platform. Here’s a brief overview of popular social media platforms and the event promotion tools on each platform:
Instagram - Instagram has become very popular, especially among younger audience members. This platform is a great place to promote events and festivals through features such as stories, Instagram Live, polls, IG videos, posts, and other fun ways to capture the interest of potential attendees.
Facebook - Facebook is the largest social media platform, making it the most effective channel to connect with your audience. You can create a Facebook Event for your festival, post about your event in relevant Facebook Groups where followers can connect with you and each other, start discussions, and post frequent festival updates.
Twitter - Twitter is all about quick updates! You can share details and important information about your festival, such as the schedule or the link to buy tickets.
5. Take a multichannel marketing approach.
To effectively plan and market your festival, use more than just one marketing platform. Use a plethora of both digital and traditional marketing platforms to reach a larger audience, such as:
Email - You can go through your email database and reach out to existing contacts who may have attended your event in the previous years to get them excited about your upcoming festival. Consider offering them exclusive tickets and giveaways to stir even more engagement. Remember to personalize your messages using their first names to really grab their attention.
Flyers - This is the perfect chance to use your graphic design skills and create bold and exciting flyers with fun graphics and images. Post your flyers around town at locations such as the library, grocery stores, and local businesses and restaurants.
Local media outlets - Get in touch with local newspapers, radio stations, and community bloggers to help market your event. These are effective promotional channels because if your festival is in-person, local individuals are more likely to buy your tickets.
6. Try out popular marketing trends.
Influencer marketing is a trend that’s growing in popularity. Influencer marketing is the process of using external content creators or influencers to advocate your message on social media. You can partner with a social media influencer to have them promote your event details on their personal platforms. This form of marketing is highly effective because of the powerful amount of trust influencers have built with their followers.
There’s no agreed-upon definition of how many followers a person must have to be considered an influencer. However, you want to look for someone who has a relatively decent audience of at least 1,000 followers.
Also, look for an influencer who is relevant to your sector or industry. For instance, if you’re hosting a film festival, you can ask a local director to share your event details on their social media pages.
7. Promote your exclusive opportunities.
One way to add an element of exclusivity to your festival is by offering a VIP experience. Festival attendees like to feel like they’re receiving a special VIP experience that they can’t get elsewhere. This is the perfect opportunity to make your festival stand out!
Be sure to promote your event’s exclusive opportunities. This could include your VIP refreshment tent, a meet and greet with the artists at your music festival, or exclusive early entry.
Whatever your exclusive opportunities may be, make sure they’re actually enticing for your audience members. You can conduct some audience research ahead of time by sending a survey to determine what type of VIP opportunities are most appealing to event attendees.
8. Support a good cause.
Choose a nonprofit or charitable organization to be the beneficiary of some of your festival’s proceeds.
Everyone loves to have the chance to support and be a part of a good cause. On top of that, you can expand your marketing reach when your nonprofit partner helps promote your event!
Supporting a good cause also helps you differentiate your organization from similar organizations or competitors. . And, it offers you the opportunity to expand your brand awareness and increase public support.
9. Ask your festival volunteers and staff to conduct peer-to-peer marketing.
Festival volunteers and staff can play an essential role in event marketing. Even if they aren’t full-blown influencers, they can still play an effective role in marketing your event to their groups of family members and friends. This is known as peer-to-peer marketing.
If your volunteers haven’t participated in peer-to-peer marketing before, offer some advice and guidance to ensure they feel confident and motivated! You can ask them to create their own social media posts to invite family and friends to your festival and help you get the word out. Be sure to thank your volunteers. You can even send them a prize such as a gift card or free t-shirt for their efforts.
Tips for Virtual Festival Marketing
Virtual festival and event marketing is slightly different from its in-person counterpart. Since virtual events take place entirely online, it’s more important than ever that you heavily promote the experience on your digital marketing channels.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use any in-person marketing techniques. You can easily use flyers, direct mail ads, or ads in local newspapers to send audience members to your online event registration page using a QR code.
Here are a few additional tips for marketing a virtual festival:
Share the event schedule ahead of time. Make sure attendees know when to tune into your virtual event. Share the full agenda so attendees can pick and choose which events or activities they want to participate in.
Ensure audience members know how to sign up and participate on event day. Provide instructions for logging into or accessing your virtual event. You can even offer an email address that attendees can reach out to if they have any questions.
Make your marketing process interactive, with audience polls and Q&As. For example, send out a poll on your Facebook page asking event attendees about which aspect of your virtual festival they’re most excited for. Or, host an Instagram Live Q&A session with one of your event’s performers or presenters.
These tips will help promote your virtual event widely enough to encourage plenty of audience members to attend.
Now that you’ve learned about the best practices for festival marketing and the tips for virtual marketing, it’s time to start planning accordingly! Remember to plan out your strategies ahead of time and think of unique and creative ways to reach your audience.
If you’re looking for more tips to help streamline your volunteer and staff management for any upcoming events and festivals, check out InitLive’s event staff management software. This tool can help you:
Recruit event staff and volunteers and keep their data organized.
Create an action plan for your event using scheduling tools.
Provide a better attendee experience by creating a streamlined event.
This software solution can support your festival marketing efforts by helping you ensure that your event will run smoothly. You can devote more of your time to figuring out the perfect marketing strategy when you don’t have to worry about event logistics.
If you’re interested in more information, we have compiled a list of other great resources to help your organization plan successful festivals and events:
Event Branding 101: How to Create a Memorable Brand. Check out this comprehensive list to explore everything you need to create memorable event branding that drives higher attendance and engagement.
The Complete Step-by-Step Festival Planning Guide for 2021. This article offers a step-by-step festival planning guide to help you begin planning your next festival.
Festival Volunteers | FAQ + 12 Essential Roles and Duties. Explore this article to have a clear understanding of what volunteers can do to help you provide an exceptional festival experience to each of your attendees.