It seems that every week is a National Something Week: pie week; farmhouse breakfast week, library week; and every other day is an awareness day.
In your city there will also be promotional events such as food festivals, film festivals and book weeks.
Your own street may also have set up a trader’s association to promote the area take a look at Bishy Road in York for great inspiration.
These events have proliferated over the last 10 years or so, because:
- They raise awareness of a cause, issue or product with the public
- The press love them – local news particularly look for good news stories
- They are a cost-effective way of getting that publicity
- They often tie in with raising money for charity
- The use of social media has made some of them very successful indeed – I’m thinking ice bucket challenge and Movember.
As a business owner you should be looking to get involved with some of the promotional events that are appropriate to your business (even if rather peripherally).
These events are good for business because:
- You can reach new audiences: York Resident’s Weekend, for example, allows locals to visit the tourist attractions for free. All these businesses normally focus their marketing outside the City, but for one weekend they focus on locals. People who live in York can be the best Ambassadors for the City and this weekend allows them to find out more about the beautiful City. Be creative in the week’s you participate in: if you have a fitness business become part of Farmhouse Breakfast Week by showing people how they can burn off the Full English!
- Raise your Profile: By participating in these events you will be able to have a presence on the event’s website and news releases, you will become part of any social media campaign and you will be included in the press releases or have support in producing your own. Many events also have printed material – York Food Festival has a Taste Trail and Fashion City York a map of participating stores.
- You will meet other business owners: these events are an opportunity to team up with other businesses in a creative way. In the forthcoming Fashion City York Weekend, for example, a Gents Tailoring Company is teaming up with a specialist liqueur seller and a bag company is joining forces with a chocolate shop. It really is an opportunity to be creative.
But, with so many events you do need to select which ones to join in with and make them part of your marketing plan.
Here are some of the things you need to consider when deciding which events to participate in:
- Time of year: is the timing of the event good for you? You do not necessarily want to give away freebies during your busiest time of the year. York Resident’s Weekend works because January is the quietest time for the attractions. National Gardens Week in April is ideal for a garden such as Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens to open for free as people will be inspired to buy plants from the garden and visit again later in the year.
- The right market: you need to consider whether the week/day or event targets your market and will bring in new customers from that market. The Taste Trail from the York food festival is a perfect example: as a food venue you certainly want tourists to visit, but you also want regular custom from local people. We went to a number of establishments we would never have considered going to for a meal and have been singing their praises ever since!
- Value for Money: in general participation in the awareness/promotional weeks are free, although there will be a cost in terms what you offer the event (discounts, samples etc) and time including potential additional staff. Some of the local events will have a cost, particularly if you want to be in the brochure or have a stand. You need to work out how many sales you are likely to make from the event to see whether that will cover the cost.
If you do become involved in any events, you can’t just rely on PR from the organisers. You will need to do some work too: talk about what you are doing on social media. Put a sign up in your shop window. Make sure your participation is on your website. Send out your own press release, particularly if you are riding a good news story on the back of the event, such as a product launch. Make sure your photos and copy in the promotional material is of a high quality.
These events are your opportunity to make a fantastic impression on new customers – don’t waste it.
For more information on Fashion City York or for help in participating in awareness weeks, contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in some of the other events I mentioned? Here’s the links