Using Local Events as a Springboard for Big Business

Fall is officially here, marked by the passing of Labor Day and the arrival of college football season, and I couldn’t be happier.

While I delight in the gridiron once again becoming alive with the crush of each play and cheers of ravenous fans, football isn’t for everyone. Even if you aren’t a football fan, you can boost business by appealing to customers who are — during football season or any other local, seasonal event.  Let’s take a look at how you can increase revenue from events on everyone’s calendar. Using events to market your business is a practice as old as, well, marketing. A large, upcoming event features businesses looking to capitalize on the popularity of said event, and while this truly is piggybacking off of an event, it is not to be confused with the business definition of piggyback marketing. A great example of taking advantage of a built-in opportunity is the Olympics. When the Olympic bid is accepted 7 years in advance of the competition, businesses of all sizes scurry to brand products with the Olympic logo or the city name and Olympic year. Who doesn’t love a collectible plate with the Queen’s likeness and the London 2012 Olympic iconography? Now let’s examine what a well-planned marketing strategy can do for your business when it comes to more routine events than the Olympics — because one promotion every two years just wouldn’t be enough. Timing is everything image

Right Place, Right Time

Leveraging the popularity of events that draw hundreds of attendees to your city can give a big boost to local restaurants looking to serve the hungry masses, boutiques catering to those seeking a unique accessory to bring home or hotels hoping to book more rooms than their competitors for the big weekend. This is all about being in the right place at the right time. and that doesn’t just refer to your brick and mortar location. People who flock to your city for just a day or weekend often perform searches on their phones. They need to find lodging, meals, entertainment, shopping and specific services, so if your business is easy to find in these searches, you’ll bring more customers to your location.. Social and search ads are a great way to get in front of this very specific audience in the midst of their search and while they’re browsing their social feeds — they could easily stumble upon a great offer from your business while seeing what their friends are up to. Football season image

Event or Holiday-Aligned Offers Go Far

Holidays are the most obvious event for marketing alignment, but what about when national events occur that everyone knows about? There’s the start of football season, local parades and events or annual festivals like Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Think about running targeted social ads that allude to an event’s name and feature your business’ products or services. Being present on social sites and in inboxes can keep you top of mind with customers and prospects. A company that does this incredibly well is Postable, an online service that mails handwritten-looking cards through the postal service. They hopped on the popularity of Deflategate and sent their subscribers a timely offer teed up as “deflated postage prices.” Genius. [caption id="attachment_8507" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Postable image Postable offered lower prices during the Deflategate controversy, aligning their business to a seemingly tangential event and bringing in business because of it.[/caption] Do keep in mind that using the event’s actual name can be off limits at times due to trademark issues. Example: the Super Bowl. Radio personalities in Phoenix had to refer to it as “The Big Game” leading up to the actual event in late January 2015. Just be cognizant of what restrictions might surround the event — a good rule of thumb is to consider the size of the event. The Super Bowl is clearly a nationwide, televised event with a lot of ad revenue tied to it, but a local festival most likely won’t have any or at least minimal restrictions tied to the name usage. Contest winner image

When In Doubt, Pick a Winner

People love free stuff. Whether it’s a free car wash with gas purchase or a free dessert with the purchase of an adult beverage, consumers love to consume. When you align a contest or promotion with an upcoming event, you can draw upon the inherent interest in the event and speak to consumers with a clear understanding of their motivations. If a storied band on a farewell tour is scheduled to pass through your city, there’s no reason you can’t purchase a pair of tickets and turn them into a giveaway or contest on your social networks. Ask followers to answer a specific question about your business or industry or submit a photo and have a final end date where you select a random entry to win the big prize. These giveaways are a common practice on the radio, with concert ticket giveaways at every turn, and listeners calling in to share the song of the day. Your business can easily partake even without a clear affiliation with the concert, convention or other event. If your target customers have an affinity for the item you’re giving away, you can raise engagement numbers.

Be Opportunistic, It’s Okay!

For businesses that experience seasonality, a local event is a great way to boost revenue in an off-season or add to an already-thriving time of year. By leveraging your location — whether online or brick-and-mortar — with an exclusive offer or creating buzz around a contest or giveaway, you can capitalize on an event that is already occurring in your city, without any of the intense legwork to plan it yourself!

Want to incorporate seasonal events into a larger strategy? Check out our webinar with Entrepreneur Magazine, Building a Living & Breathing Marketing Strategy for Local Businesses, for excellent tips and tricks for a marketing plan that actually works for your business.

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