Planning on marketing a festival? There’s a lot you need to know.

There are many ways that festival organisers can set about selling tickets. AFO staff have some experience in this field, but not the only experience. However, the following notes might be of some use. Written originally by Maddie Spear at Shine On Digital (AFO partner) and edited by SH.

The festival scene has grown massively in recent years. This can only be a good thing, as most people who have ever attended a festival have fond memories of the sights and sounds of their experience and the tasty food that they ate along with in some cases the odd alcoholic beverage.

Not even the perennially erratic Great British weather can put a dampener on festivals across the UK. Festivals have really diversified from the big events like Glasto, Reading, Leeds right through the majority of UK festivals which have a capacity of around 3000-5000 down to the even smaller community arts events.

Festivals have branched out from just a particular genre of music into virtually every type of music, arts and food and drink. Festivals are now big, small and in between and their success is measured on their purpose of their original targets.

But with a good number of festivals out there and indeed competition from other forms of entertainment especially in the summer months, a festival needs good marketing. And good marketing is nothing without a strategy.

A well-planned and efficient marketing strategy builds anticipation and creates excitement for the event. Ideally, it should be both tailored to the target audience and wide-reaching enough to attract a whole new audience as well. So often festivals are chasing that new audience when in fact their real target audience is quite often sitting on their doorstep.

Marketing a Festival – Research Your Target Audience

Research your target audience when marketing a festival. You should start the planning of any festival well in advance certainly months and not weeks, and ideally more than a year. This means you should create your marketing strategy well ahead of the date of the event. One of the first things you should do is research a target audience carefully having made the decision who you would like to sell tickets to.

Everything about your marketing strategy should be aimed at that target audience so you really need to understand your audience.  Many brands now create an audience persona as this can really help you to communicate with your audience effectively. Try to put yourself in your audience shoes and head will help you get on to their wavelength. Researching your audience will also help you decide which particular social channels and platforms would be best to use to market your event.

Make Your Brand Exciting and Engaging

Create an engaging and exciting brand. You should do all you can to boost your brand recognition as this is a brilliant way to make your festival stand out from the crowd. In practice, what this means is stylish graphics for your event. Use a suitable colour pallet, a great logo that tells the story and eye-catching typography. You need to have a consistent tone across all the social channels you intend to use.

Your target audience need to recognise your adverts at a glance. Some festivals with longevity will change their logo every few years, some even annually including those special decade-long celebrations, but once chosen use it throughout the whole of your marketing strategy for the whole year.

Make Use of Multi-Channel Marketing

Use multi-channel marketing. Although your brands tone message should be consistent across the piece it is important that everything you post isn’t just the same. Each social media platform has its own unique features and new answers. You need to leverage these efficiently to be successful in appealing to your target audience. The best festival marketing strategies use a multi-channel marketing approach. It is important to use more than one marketing platform. A combination of digital and traditional methods is usually the best way to reach a large audience.

In addition to social media, you should use an emailing marketing campaign and make the decision whether you are replacing hardcopy ads in specialist magazines, which then will need to be repeated in your social media looking similar. It is also well worth reaching out to local media outlets, radio stations, local newspapers and community groups all need to know about your event.

Go Old School When Marketing a Festival

Don’t be afraid of going ‘old school’ either. Old print sustainably produced and colourful flyers and leaflets (print both sides) can still have a place in the modern marketing strategy. They can be posted through letterboxes, left on distribution tables and handed out at other festivals and similar events. Widening the reach of your marketing reinforces your message. With all honesty if somebody scrolls past just one post in your plan they could just keep scrolling on and not really give you a second thought. However, if they see an insta post, an email, a flyer in a shop and hear about it on radio with that recognisable logo and theme, the impact is likely to be far greater.

Much more advice like this with variations to suit you is available and can be requested from Maddie Spear at Shine On Digital. Maddie is available on special rates for AFO members.