For several reasons, promotion is a key factor in the success of a special event. The main purpose that promotion serves is to attract participants, spectators or both to the event. A football match without a crowd is always disappointing and so is a local tennis tournament with only half the expected number of players. It is essential therefore that the efforts of many people over many months to organise a special event
Promotion is also important to the sponsor if one exists. The objective of the sponsor is to achieve as much exposure of their name, logo and other properties as possible. Sponsors, therefore, have a keen interest in the pre-event promotion and in the promotion that can be achieved on the day through erecting signage and product displays in view of all participants.
Promotion is also important to the organisation for reasons other than attracting a crowd on the day. A well-promoted event increases public awareness of the organisation. This is a chief reason why special events are important.
Achieving an attendance target is not only good for the atmosphere of the tournament but also it is often a critical component that determines the event’s financial success. Event organisers require income earned from spectator attendance or participants fees to pay for costs of the event. Any shortfall in expected revenues can have a disastrous effect on organisations that stage special events. There are numerous cases of sport and recreation organisations that have suffered major financial loss and even bankruptcy as a result of staging one event.
The means of promotion should be considered from the outset i.e. in the feasibility analysis. Organisers need to consider promotional strategies in order to estimate the total costs of the event. They must select strategies that are most reliable and cost-effective in terms of achieving the target participation or patronage.
Promotion is a key result area in event management and as such is deserving of adequate human and financial resources. Appointing a manager or coordinator for promotion is a sensible strategy.
Strategies for promoting events include:
- Using social media
- Paid advertising online
- Paid advertising offline
- Free publicity via television, radio or print media
- Promotional events leading up to the main event.
- Signage and banners
The use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) is now regarded as a “must do” strategy for promoting any event. However, there is a lot to learn to make good use of the promotional power of social media. Probably there are few sport administrators over the age of 40 that have any inkling of how it works, and they rely on the skills and knowledge of Generation Y who are intimate with social media.
Importantly, it is not just about having a Facebook page for your event, you need to really get to grips with how to use the phenomenal power of Facebook to create targeted adverts. For example, advertising can be targeted towards people who have a particular interest and who live in a particular geographic area.
Paid advertising online
Most people will be familiar with the extent of advertising on the world wide web but few really understand how it really works. It would be a really difficult proposition, and far too time consuming, for advertisers to deal with the millions of website managers around the world. So, a very lucrative business niche (affiliate marketing) exists that intermediates between people who want to advertise, and people wanting to earn money by putting adverts on their websites.
There are a number of mechanisms by which a website earns money by displaying advertising, they include:
- Cost per click (CPC) – the advertiser pays when the web page visitor clicks on their add
- Pay per 1000 impressions (CPM) – the advertiser pays a fee based on how many 1000’s of times their add is seen by website visitors
- Cost per action (CPA) – the advertiser pays when a defined action occurs e.g. often the action is a sale made
- Pay per lead generated (CPL) – the advertiser pays when a lead is generated by the website as a visitor fills in a contact form giving their name, email address and possibly other contact details
- Pay per sale (CPS) – the advertiser pays when a sale is made to the website visitor
Events can be advertised easily promoted through paid online advertising but the event manager needs to contact an affiliate marketing company. There is also a necessity for the event manager to provide the graphical components for the advertising that the website manager needs.
Two main difficulties exist with paid online advertising. Most events have a very local appeal whereas website often has a much larger geographic focus. It is still possible however to select websites who serve only a local audience. The second problem is that it is necessary to set an upper limit to the cost for the advertiser. In both these issue, advertising via Facebook solves the problem.
Paid advertising offline
This category is really the traditional forms of advertising that include:
- Newspaper advertising
- Magazine advertising
- Radio advertising
- Television advertising
Events can also be advertised in newsletters, banners and letterbox drops but these strategies usually have a very limited geographic reach. Nevertheless, many events can benefit greatly by employing local advertising strategies. For example, a banner can be hung where it can be viewed by passing traffic.
Everybody wants free publicity but it is quite hard to achieve. Certainly, it’s important to be able to generate press releases with interesting stories to catch the interest of the media.
It is also a time-consuming occupation to create a database of media organisations with the names of editors, email addresses and fax numbers. There are companies that specialised in this data but the service can be expensive.
The key to free publicity is to avoid attempts to blatantly promote your event. Media organisations will say if you want to advertise your event, you should pay for the privilege. After all media organisations depend on advertising to pay the wages of staff!!
This strategy involves setting up small community events, at which sporting stars attend, to give away some free tickets or other promotional goods such as caps and t-shirts, for a chance to address the public with a loudspeaker. Events can be held in shopping centres, sports clubs and schools.
Promotional are relatively short and easy to undertake but do require event managers to make early contact with community organisations.
Promotional strategies and success
Organisers are often disappointed when the result of their promotional efforts is less than desired. One key concept to consider is that decisions to “purchase” a good or a service are usually the result of repeated exposure to promotional messages.
Choosing to participate or spectate in an event is a form of deciding to purchase. Potential purchasers need repeated exposure to information and promotional messages about the event. With each exposure, the potential customer’s attitudes and intentions to purchase may change. The following diagram serves to illustrate how this works in theory.
Therefore it is vital that event managers plan multiple promotional strategies and employ these strategies in an orchestrated campaign.
Trade Practices Act 1974
All promotional strategies employed must not contravene the Trade Practices Act 1974.
(INFORMATION SOURCE: GOOGLE)