Pam was responsible for coordinating the annual fundraising event. She was young, energetic, and passionate about her organization’s mission. In the aftermath of the pandemic, fundraising had dropped way off. Her boss dumped the responsibility for the event into her lap with little thought about the consequences of putting an inexperinced person in charge. He asked her to promote the event on social media, as he had seen other organizations do. Pam began working on the fundraising event with no guidance, no budget, and no significant support from her colleagues. She was hopeful about its success because people seemed to like her initial social media postings, many saying that planned to attend the event. However, when the day of the event came, actual attendance was disappointingly low. During his debriefing of the event afterward, Pam’s boss blamed her for the lack of the event’s success. Pam was disappointed and discouraged.
Are you planning an event for your community? Are you worried about how to promote the event in the aftermath of the pandemic? Welcome to the New Normal! What worked in the past won’t necessarily work in today’s hectic world. Most organizations have limited resources and must be cautious about how they spend their capital. Hosting an event is no exception. However, if organizations knew of some key ingredients that could improve the likelihood of success for these activities, they would be in a better position for the upcoming year. This article examines the critical strategies that organizations should consider as they market their events in today’s somewhat disruptive climate.
Let’s be real! The pandemic has changed how organizations plan for events. According to SkiftMeetings.com, the pandemic requires event planners to rethink how they plan and launch events. Below are data from Skift Meetings about the latest trends:
What is event marketing? It can be defined as “the process of planning, organizing and executing an event for the purpose of promoting a brand, product or service.” Sadly, many organizations do not spend enough upfront planning time for their events. Has the market changed? Will participants want to attend the event due to fears about the pandemic or their own personal safety? Today’s consumers are different. They have more access to information; they have more choices of events. Therefore, your event must stand out.
Christian Nymand and Mante Kvedare, authors of The Virtual Sales Handbook, argue that the market has shifted to one of empowering consumers. They explain, “Before COVID-19, it was you who decided which meetings were fit for virtual and which were not…Now, we no longer have the power to make that decision.” Stephanie Diamond, author of Web Marketing for Small Businesses, adds about the new role of consumers, “Drive the personality of the brand. Consumers decide what the real meaning of a company’s brand is and drive the popularity – or lack of it.” Thus, those without a good plan for promoting their organizations will fall behind competitors that are more strategic in their promotions.
In 2021, I was tasked with marketing from scratch a bike event called the OKC Eastside Bike Ride, targeting new riders in the northeast section of Oklahoma City. This area is predominately African American and has no significant background in cycling. I was instructed to promote registration for the event primarily online. As the promotional chair of this event with plenty of unknowns, I was nervous about the outcome. The event was free. The results were shocking.
This being the inaugural bike ride event, over 200 people participated. A year later, in July of 2022, we hosted the “2nd Annual OKC Eastside Bike Ride,” a fundraiser sponsored by the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Oklahoma(MTCCOK). In this case, the primary target was more experienced riders. Again, the event drew over 200 participants and was highly successful. Both events (in 2021 and 2022) reached a more diverse audience than expected. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, both of these community-based events were successful due to the event marketing approaches employed. Below are the themes and strategies shared by both of these events:
Today’s unpredictable environment has forced organizations to rethink how they host events in their communities. Most planners attribute disappointing results to disruptive changes. Organizations hosting less than successful events are not the exception. According to SkiftMeetings.com, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over $500 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy. The New Normal climate underlines the need to actively and carefully target potential participants. This article demonstrates how organizations can be successful hosting community events by employing some critical marketing strategies. By taking the necessary steps to understand their target participants’ emotional needs for the event, small businesses, nonprofits and community-based organizations can improve their chances of promoting a successful event. Let’s pray that it is not too late.
© 2022 by D. D. Green
About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl D. Green is a business strategist, awarding speaker, and noted author. He is the Vice President of Marketing at AGSM Consulting LLC where he provides strategic planning, marketing, and product development to emerging and existing businesses. He provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s small businesses. He is a business professor operating a small business in Oklahoma. He has assisted over 100 organizations across the globe with marketing and management problems. If you would like more information about this article or business assistance, please contact Dr. Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.drdarylgreen.com.
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