Event marketing is approachable for big & small businesses

By Jon Waldman

Over the summer, a number of businesses, be they Winnipeg-based, national, or international, ran community events in support of charities.
We’re all familiar with them and know them well – Tim Hortons’ Camp Day and A&W’s Cruisin’ to End MS are but two examples of the variety of events that we see on an annual basis.
The interesting part of these events is that while altruism is present, there’s also the aspect of #RCS (Real Company Stuff, as I’ve discussed in the past). An individual or company is going to be more likely to want to work with or purchase from an organization that shows true community support rather than just being about the almighty dollar.
So with that in mind, I wanted to take some space to talk about philanthropic event marketing, and the factors that will make it the success you want it to be.
The first thing to know about these events is that everyone is wise to you putting it on. No matter how well-intentioned your efforts are, the knowledge of corporate tie-in is there; branding goes along with it that ties back to your business, be it directly naming the event after your business or identifying as a sponsor. So don’t fear this element.
Second, remember that your event should have some unique aspect to it. Golf tournaments are great, for example, but what will be the hook that brings players in (outside of associates that will come as a quid pro quo when you support their event)? Will it be a featured guest keynote speaker or the chance to win a high-dollar prize? This will be key to bringing your audience to your event, whether it’s a closed-door session or something open to the public.
Third, generate the needed publicity. This is often hard because you’re at times trying to strike the balance between too much or too little exposure. Let’s say that your restaurant will match donations made to a particular charitable organization for every dollar donated during a given period. That sounds great in theory, but if your cause goes viral, you could easily end up donating more than anticipated. The same overload can happen if the draw to your location is larger than anticipated, so be ready with extra hands on deck.
At the same time, you want to ensure that enough of an audience is there to make your endeavour worthwhile. This is where factors such as weather will play a part, so planning a backup rain day or an alternate indoor location will be pertinent to your success.
Finally, make your effort accessible. This is one that often gets overlooked – not everyone can afford the $60 green fee for a golf tournament, so look at alternate means to get more involvement. Remember, you generate the same amount of money if you have 10 people donating $100 or 100 people donating $10, but with the latter you reach more eyes.
This is where I tip my cap (or cup) to 7-Eleven, who in September ran a promotion where a thirsty shopper could pay whatever they liked for a large Slurpee, with all proceeds going to charity. Imagine the freedom to donate $2 or $20. It’s simple, easy, and for the margin on syrup and ice, an easy endeavour for the 24-hour mini mart to engage in.
So with all this in mind, go forth in your philanthropic event planning, and know that your cause and company will benefit in the end.

Jon Waldman is a marketing strategist with Cohesive Marketing. To learn more about the services the company offers, call 204-992-6400 or visit http://www.cohesive.ca.

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