"Successful festival marketing campaigns start with complimentary strategies based in creativity, strategy and tactics."
With so much competition in the festival industry for the attention of customers and sponsors it is essential for events to make efficient use of their marketing dollars for maximum effect. I think that successful festival marketing campaigns start with complimentary strategies based in creativity, strategy and tactics. Each festival is different and accordingly their marketing campaigns should reflect a unique creative ethos. This creative position is reinforced with calculated marketing goals, channels and ongoing assessment that directly support business objectives. By structuring a marketing campaign in this way festivals are in a good position to respond quickly to changes in the market and ensure a quality experience to guests and sponsors alike. The process begins by first understanding the unique message and viewpoint of your festival and why people choose to participate.
A festival is descended from and reflection of the lifestyle, culture and values of the people who create and attend them. I see this reciprocal relationship as the “soul” of an event and the source of creative momentum behind it’s promotion. Outstanding marketing campaigns go beyond the entertainment and services of an event to creatively include elements that are based in the hopes and dreams of your audience. Finding a core message for your campaign that speaks directly to the motivations of your audience makes it likely they will respond to your call-to-action. At the same time, finding opportunities for sponsors to organically engage with guests adds a force multiplier to your campaign. Sponsors, both national and local, have built-in customers that are likely ticket buyers if they are reached through innovative partnerships and activations. Over time these alliances become durable touch-points for both your customers and sponsors to interface with your festival and each other. However, capitalizing on this creative framework takes practical decision-making and tactical acumen in setting clear goals, channels and lines of feedback for your campaign.
"Every guest and sponsor should leave the festival already sold on returning next year"
Marketing campaigns are at their best when they start with precisely defined outcomes. What do you want your customers to actually do or feel when they come in contact with your media? By setting clear goals for a campaign it is easier to effectively employ the creative solutions outlined above and evaluate effectiveness over time. Campaigns excel when they deliver a strong concise message to customers that inspire them to action. Don’t confuse customers by overloading them with information or too many choices. Likewise, the number of channels for a given campaign should be limited and focused on achieving a specific marketing goal. This campaign architecture creates a marketing funnel that propels your customers from awareness to purchase. Last, while developing goals and channels for your campaign, festivals should establish measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be gathered and evaluated. Website analytics, social media stats and sales figures are great places to look for these signals.
Campaigns that begin with sponsor partnerships are a little different than ones focused on your direct audience, but still rely on the same elements. In this case the goals and channels of your campaign are usually determined along side your sponsor partner. For example, media sponsors are a great way to advertise an event but their specific media type, such as radio or television, determines the channel of your message. Further, sponsors that make big contributions to an event usually require a contract that outlines what they are getting for their support. It is the responsibility of the festival to make sure that these promises are fulfilled. After a sponsor contract has been signed it is best to generate a list of deliverables that will be documented over the course of the campaign or on-site at the festival. These records are invaluable when a recap is provided to the sponsor after the event has concluded. All together these strategic and tactical components of a marketing campaign ensure success by making them resilient and efficient.
Festival marketing is a continuous effort that doesn’t end when people buy a ticket or sign a contract. Every guest and sponsor should leave the festival already sold on returning next year. Successful marketing campaigns unfold neatly when they are planned with forethought, crafted with insight and constantly evaluated. Together these best practices are the basis for outstanding campaigns and partnerships that are productive for everyone involved.

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