Is Anybody Out There? Promoting Community Events

Small businesses, especially businesses who rely on walk-in or local business often publicize their events using tools that hit too broad or distant an audience. Look at these examples of how local Perth – Australia community events were promoted and modify that for your local business.

As a content writer, I have written ads, webpages, fliers and documented management procedures for community-based businesses. This time, I’m not talking the internet community, I am talking local — the sailing school on the river, the dance class around the corner or the local sailing association looking for members. These types of businesses use the internet to promote their events, but often have trouble connecting with the local population.

Good-old paper classifieds?!

Many communities have a print newspaper that covers the neighborhood news. Choose a paper that is appropriate for your business. Cast your net wider than your niche audience, but not so wide that people 200 miles away are wondering why they happened upon your ad. For example, if you run the local sailing school, find the paper that reports on the local city council, nightclubs in the area or the for-sale ads. For business seminars, try the local business journal or the regular newspaper.

Placing a classified ad in a print newspaper still works, even in this day of internet and iPhone. The reason? People still sit around at the local car wash, doctor or baseball diamond reading the paper while waiting, especially if the papers laying around the waiting area.

The added benefits include that the classified ads are presorted, so people can easily get back to the ad, even if they’ve flipped through the rest of the paper. The pictures in the display ad may stand out, but – the ad moves in the paper each week, people have trouble remembering which page the ad was on and display ads are expensive.

Here’s what to include and an example of how to say it.

  • Date first (people need to plan and know when to come)
  • Event topic (not necessarily the class title, just short familiar words)
  • Who should attend (like age, skill)
  • Where (the street address, really!)
  • How to register or attend (at least two types of contact methods, like email and phone)
  • How much (tack the price at the end)

Gosh, that looks like an earlier post I had “You assume I know where to start” and it is. I find that most businesses are so busy doing business that they don’t know what their customers need to know. So, let’s get back to promoting our event!

Found a Great Event

In the local classifieds under “Classes and Events” we find

“30 Oct. Learn to Sail. 6 Sundays 8AM-12PM. No exp req. 14 yr & up. The Esplanade & Bessell Ave Nedlands. Nedlands Yacht Club info@nyc.org.au 08 9386 5496. $225 per person.”

Keep It Close to Home

Another wonderful tool that is booming around the world is the online classified ad. The best local advertising varies by where you live and the best place to start is to see if the local print newspaper has a website. In Perth – Australia, the best place to put online classifieds ads for a dance class are

http://perth.gumtree.com.au/

http://www.inmycommunity.com.au/

Use nearly the same advertisement formula as above, but this time spell out the words and maybe add more detail. Use bullets and noun-verb stand alone phrases. Here’s an example for the dance class used above.

“11 AM Saturdays starting 1 October 2011

Latin dance style workout. Everyone welcome. Beginners through advanced. No experience required. Age 16 to 106. Take 1 or more classes, start anytime. Reservations required. JD Studio, Patricia zumba.authentic@gmail.com or (08) 9382 3235. $12 per person per 1 hour session.

* Sat 1 Oct

* Sat 8 Oct

* Sat 15 Oct

* Sat 22 Oct

* Sat 30 Oct

JD Studio, 296 Churchill Avenue, Subiaco WA 6008 (map)

Free street parking and close to the Hay and Axom bus stop.”

Tap Into Local Groups

There are non-competitive local groups that you can tap into. Some are news groups for athletic events, like the local university’s outdoor sports club. Other groups might be run by the city or county as part of a community awareness project.

Join the group or message stream. Watch how people organize and share events. Attend events that interest you or talk to the group leaders if you are unsure. Then post a message. Here’s an example:

“Sat 17 Sep – Crew under 70 kg needed, catamaran practice and training

Fellow UWA Outdoors members,
Sat 17 Sep 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Nedlands Yacht Club
The Esplanade Blvd. past Bessell Ave

Crew under 70 kg needed. We are holding a free training and practice to introduce people to catamaran racing. Practice is free and we have gear to lend. No sailing experience required, though watersports experience is a plus.

* Wear swimwear, sunblock, sunglasses, hat

* Bring change of clothes, towel, shower gear, snack, water

* Optional – if you have these items bring wetsuit, booties, gloves, harness, lifejacket

– you can also borrow these items at the practice

We will be socializing during this event and it’s casual. Non-sailing friends welcome to join you and enjoy the conversation.

Free parking. Free access to hot showers and change room at this event. Skippers are looking for crew for the season. The club has a “Try racing 3 times for free” option. Our season starts in Oct. Come join us!

Contact Shauna at needcrew@gmail.com or 08 9467-2663.

You don’t have to give your name and phone number, however, most women are more comfortable contacting people and joining events when they know who they are talking to and there is a phone number.

The list did not allow me to put links to outside webpages into the message, so I sent people links to the Google map and sailing websites in my email reply.

Show It

Most online classified ads want small pictures too. Include a picture of your storefront or nearby landmarks at the beginning of your set of pictures to help the potential local customer identify where you are located. When possible, include a picture of the actual event. Put the logos and stock art at the end of the sequence of pictures.

Show how to get to your event by including links to an online map or to the bus route. Some classifieds may restrict you from including multiple links, so you can always put the additional links into your own website – on your Contact Us page.

The World is Out There

The World is out there, but you only want your local customers. Try using community advertising to promote your events. Wherever you are, you are here. Provide repetition, so your advertisement is seen in a couple locations for several weeks.

Respond to inquiries quickly! Get the person into the class or event by calling them back, confirming the class dates and price and asking, “Would you like to register now?”

You will need to try a couple different sources over time. Don’t forget to ask the participants where they heard about your class and make the most of happy participants.

Ask good customers to tell a friend and make it easy – send the info again with the registration confirmation (email or postal letter) Include all the same information that was in the classified promotion.

I’m here! See you there.

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