Tag Archives: Events

How To Promote Your Event Part 1

I get this question a lot, so I figured I would share with everyone. The other day, I received an email that said, “What will be the best way to promote this event since you, of all people, knows best how to start the proceedings and communicate to the proper contacts for this event?” Here is what I answered (slightly edited for public consumption):

What you ask is a really in-depth question, but I will try to answer a bit briefly. We have spent the last several years going out to every event we could and networking, shaking hands, trading business cards and passing out flyers. Some nights we would hit five or more events. Through that we built up our network and name recognition. That is where you start (unless you have a giant marketing budget).

In terms of promoting any individual event, I use all the channels available: website, email, social media, personal connections, physical flyer distribution. There are at least two dozen online calendars in the area and numerous journalists who write about events. For larger events, radio is the first advertising media I choose, followed by print, then television. Billboards are also good. Having an advertising budget or being able to set up media sponsorships is very important for bigger events.

I find it very helpful to hire a professional and experienced PR management team. I think that is key. Hiring a professional PR team can really make the difference in news coverage, they have the connections and reputation with the reporters to make that happen. You will get much more coverage than just trying to reach out yourself. A good one will already know all the channels through which you can promote.

Sponsorship of similar style events is also a really good way to get your name out. That would place your name directly in front of the current attendees. Just make sure you are getting good value for your money when you choose who to sponsor.

We always print up physical flyers. Many people have given up on this form, but I think it is one of the keys to our success over others who have tried similar things and given up. Online stuff is nice, but there is nothing like a good piece of glossy paper in your hand to make the event seem more real.

Also, email advertising is still very powerful. Do not dismiss it in favor of just doing social media. Social media is important and should also be handled by someone trained and experienced in it, but email still have better conversion for events, in most cases.

You know, a lot of it really depends on what you are looking for and what your budget is. Do you have a program outline for the event?

I embellished a bit there, but that is essentially what I told them. Marketing is a big part of business, and this is something people do not always realize. Too many people subscribe to the “build it and they will come” theory and that just does not work. I have been to quite a number of larger events recently that were very lightly attended. Yes, you start with a quality product, but then you have to let the people know it is there. Once you have shown them that you can create something good, they will eventually show up. Eventually. Meaning the other part of the equation is persistance, but we’ll leave that to a future writing.

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Full Circle

As you can imagine, we have been watching the Miami event scene for many years. Even before we started Soul Of Miami, we got out and about on a regular basis. And now, Miami has finally closed the circle.

Years ago, I can remember when THE thing to do on one Thursday a month was JAM at MAM. That was really the start of mid-week evening events. People moved their art shows, networkers, happy hours, grand openings and other special events off the weekends because they started to get too busy. There was a time when Thursday was king. You would sit around the house Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then have a dozen events to choose from on Thursday. There was a time when full days would be empty on Soul Of Miami, just no events listed at all.

Slowly, it creeped across the week. After competition got too fierce on Thursdays, people started Wednesdays. I remember, a few years back, talking to friends about it. “Oh, this is as far as it can go, nobody would do Tuesday. Nobody would go out on Tuesday.” Well, needless to say, we were wrong.

Eventually it did creep across Tuesday. I think it was the Brickell Art Walk that finally sealed Tuesday’s fate. After they started hosting their walk on one Tuesday a month, more and more people started testing Tuesdays. We even plan to hold regular Life Is Art events on Tuesdays starting in 2014, whereas last year, we would not have entertained that idea at all.

We thought Monday would be the final hold out. There was a time when we personally designated it “Movie Monday” because nothing ever happened on Monday and we could actually take a personal day and attend a movie. Surely, nobody would be crazy enough to host events on Monday. The day after a big weekend in Miami, nobody would come out, right? Everybody needs a break, right? Wrong, again.

For the past several weeks, we have been attending events pretty much every night of the week, including Mondays. We are even contributing to the situation, our next two Life Is Art are on Mondays. Tonight (Monday, November 11), there are several nice events to choose from.

Can this continue? Will people continue to populate events every night of the week? Where do we go from here? Will we need to invent a new day just to cram more events into the week? So, I ask you, what are you doing tonight?

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11/30 #SMCSFblog

#LateNightRant: Facebook is not an invitation service

#LateNightRant : A Facebook invite is NOT an invitation. When I say, “Sorry, I did not hear about your event,” I often get the, “But, I sent you an invitation,” answer. Then it turns out that invitation was on Facebook. Hah.

Has anyone done any tracking on the response rate to Facebook invitations? I hardly ever even look at mine, and even if I do, it is usually on the day of, not ahead of time. Does anyone else look at their invitations closely? Maybe it is just me because I get so many.

But, if you cannot even bother to stick me on your email list (everyone else has), I dunno what to tell you. I just find Facebook invitations to be so impersonal. And they are so easy to ignore.

Not that I recommend not using them. They are good because they are easy for people to share with each other, to encourage their friends to go. (Not that I really believe that happens much). But, it is more as a support format, and it should not be the primary.

Cultivate your email list. It is still your bread and butter.

And for those who want to actually reach NEW people, remember that Google does not index Facebook. If someone is Googling for your event or something like it, your Facebook invite will not show up. Use the other sites available to you and post your events there, too. There are plenty of them.

That is all, just a rant against people who rely too heavily on Facebook invites.


The “Art Basel” Overload – What To Do?

This is also posted on the big site, but I wanted to post it here for posterity, because someone needs to say something. Everyone’s thinking it, but I am going to come out and say it publicly. The “Art Basel Week” has gotten way out of hand.

I think it is safe to say that few people get out to more events than we do. There are some that do, but I think everyone would agree we make it to quite a few. We talk to a lot of people. A lot. And this year, the absolute consensus is the number of available events is just overwhelming. “It’s too much,” we hear over and over. Every year there is too much to do, but this year, we hear this refrain more than ever, from everyone. Everyone says they are suffering from overload.

And, it is true. Every year there are more fairs, more exhibitions, more parties and more people. So, how much is too much? You know, we love you all, all of you who bring art to our city, and we are really happy you have come here, but do you not think it is getting a little out of hand? Really, it is getting a lot out of hand. Maybe it is time for a change. I guess I will be the one to stand up and say it.

On Tuesday, December 4, 2012, there were over TWELVE Vernissages / Openings for various art fairs. Don’t believe me? Check out this screen shot from our Tuesday summary. I’ve highlighted all the Vernissages. As you can see, there are a numerous other parties, as well. And that is just Tuesday. (Click the thumbnail for a larger version.) We have over 120 events listed in our full roundup, and I know we have missed dozens of others. How can anyone possibly make even a small percentage of that?

We all know that there are many art people in town this week, and everyone wants to try to take advantage of that. But think about it, if you start a new show/fair/party, there are a couple of options. First, you might just pull people from the regular crowd. If a lot of new events open up (like has been happening), that means quite a few less people for each event. Not optimal.

On the other hand, maybe all these new events do draw more people to town. Where do those people park? Where do they stay? How do they get around. The traffic is already epic fail. It is not going to get better. There are only a finite number of hotel rooms and parking spots. Also, not optimal.

The same is true for the expansion of the current fairs/shows, it is either going to spread the same number of people thinner or it is going to add to the already terrible problem of overcrowding. How long is this really sustainable? How long until people just give up because they cannot handle the load? We have actually already seen this happen. Some people are going out to fewer events because they are so overwhelmed by all the options.

The thing is, you all are doing yourself a disservice with this much activity. Nobody can possibly do it all. Nobody can even do a small percentage. Sure, there are a lot of art people in town, but spreading them so thin hurts everyone. You are missing out on potential sales because people are at the dozen or more other events that night. By jumping on the bandwagon to try to take advantage of someone else’s hard work, you are actually adding to the problem.

Meanwhile, we have 51 other weeks of the year with only a few fairs sprinkled throughout. Like I said, we do love that all you guys and gals come to our city and bring all this art, but how about making it so we can see some of it? How about some of you get together and we all do another art week? Maybe a few.

April would be a good time. It is towards the end of season. Weather is still usually good (at least as good as it gets in Miami). Most of the snowbirds are still here. We are past all the mayhem of WMC, Boat Show, and the other big winter events. Why not create another art week then? Who is going to have the courage to take the first step?

This is what I would really like to see. I think it would be great if a couple of the bigger ancilliary fairs stepped up and took leadership to do this, maybe Scope or Art Miami. Pick a new week. Start a different art week.

Think about how awesome that would be. Anyone who does it will be hailed as courageous and visionary. Plus, you get your name up in lights. Right now, this is “Art Basel Week” (no matter what anyone else tries to brand it) and all of the other fairs and events are mentioned secondarily. But, if one of the other fairs took the initiative to step up and make the change, then that would their week. Rather than just being a follower during “Art Basel Week”, they would be the leader for “Scope Art Week” or “Art Miami Week” or maybe “Pulse Miami Week”. There is a real opportunity here to break out of the pack and be a leader.

The thing is, Miami is not what it was 10 years ago, when the brave souls at Art Basel decided to open up a new fair here. Back then, it was not really seen as an “art” destination, known more for the nightlife and beaches, and it was a challenge to convince people to come for an art fair. But, now it is becoming one of the major players in the art world. Now, it would not be as hard to convince people to come for art. Opening up a second week would give people a much-needed relief from the overload that is “Art Basel Week” right now.

Will anyone do it? Seems unlikely, but we can hope. It would take a lot of guts and smarts, just like the guys who started Art Basel Miami Beach. They took a chance and tried something new, and it certainly worked out. Will anyone else step up and take a leadership stance? We hope so.

I figure I will get a million flames telling me why this is not feasible, but that is okay, leaders always have people telling them that what they are doing is impossible, as they go ahead and do it. Happens to me all the time. All I know is what I hear from the people, and the people are overwhelmed. Something needs to be done.