Whether you are sponsoring a sporting event or music festival, hosting your own corporate outdoor event, or appearing at one of Ireland’s famous agricultural shows this Summer, you will need to think smart to stand out among the throngs of attendees and get decent bang for your marketing buck. This is never been more true than in 2013, the year of The Gathering, when events are more numerous, and with the potential to reach a wider, more international audience. We’ve gathered some of the best ways to go about marketing & branding for the silly season that is the Irish ‘Summer’.
- Forward planning: there’s no way around this – printing of promotional items takes time and lead-times can be even longer for outdoor items which are often made of fabric, canvas, mesh etc.
- Whatever you use to decorate or brand your outdoor event, make sure it is SAFE! Most indoor displays are not suitable for outdoor use – you risk ruining your display at best and injuring someone at worst! Even purpose-built outdoor display items need to be secured with pegs or ropes, or properly weighted (ask your supplier if you are not sure).
- Research before you choose your strategy. Use Google Trends to tease out what users are searching for in relation to the show or event, and get insights into which topics are rising and which are losing the public imagination. Segment search results by demographic or sector to hone your findings.
- If you are offering refreshments or giveaways, make sure to allow adequate facilities for disposal and assign staff to keeping your area clean. All the promotion in the world will not do your brand any good if your marquee entrance looks littered, or if your branded flyers are strewn around the site.
- Prepare for the Irish weather. Unfortunately this cannot be done in advance but contingencies can be planned for: for example, a branded gazebo provides shelter from both rain and sun. Likewise fridges with cool drinks, and boilers for tea and coffee, can both be organised in advance, and the most appropriate choice made on the morning of the event.
Agricultural Shows e.g. Ploughing Championships & Tullamore Show
- Much like at a tradeshow, you must choose the best location & present yourself well. Unlike most tradeshows, the crowds are likely to be overwhelming, and distractions will be infinite! Corner spaces are always most sought after, but whatever space you choose make sure you place your entrance and eye-catching branding on whichever edge will catch the most passing traffic.
- Consider branding outer back and side walls. These are often visible from different angles and throughways, and very few exhibitors use these, so your efforts will stand out!
- In the fight to stand out, height and movement are your friends! Branded Spinning Banners and Tall Portable Flags will achieve this for you for very little money, as will good old helium balloons.
- Rain or shine, one things for sure – your marquee and materials will get filthy with mud and dirt as people visit your stand. The wisest exhibitors use a dark accent colour at the base of their internal displays, and dark flooring, to disguise the worst of the grime.
- Bear in mind the challenges that your target audience will face at such an event and solve these as a way to attract them to your space. If you’re targeting families at a large outdoor event, for example, consider providing a comfy feeding area or even baby changing facilities, and design your interior to accommodate buggies.
- No matter what creative ideas you use to draw visitors into your marquee, do not neglect health and safety! The staple items such as anti-slip matting and flooring just can’t be overlooked, and assign a staff member to keep your area free of leaves, mud splatters and waste paper which can all become fall-risks in certain conditions.
- When planning & budgeting remember that water, electricity & internet connections all add cost and need to be ordered or organised at the planning stage, not as afterthoughts. If these are necessary for your visitor offering discuss them with the show organiser and display contractor from the get-go.
- Think strategically when planning your display – do you need a private meeting area for signing up new clients, a lockable storage room for giveaways, kiosks for visitors to take part in a promotion, or a kitchenette? Get your contractor to integrate the features you need rather than tagging them on later – its safer than using standalone elements, more professional-looking and saves space.
- Not strictly a marketing tip, but your marketing staff will thank you! Put a padlock on your Portaloo to prevent it becoming a public convenience. ***Thanks our resident expert Colette for these tips: 20 years experience helping our clients get the most from the Ploughing Championships has taught her well!
Festivals & Consumer Events
- Your sponsorship deal will likely include free tickets so be sure to capitalise on these as cost-effective giveaways. Either build awareness with ticket competition or use them as targeted invitations for your best prospects and clients.
- Use spaces not cluttered by other collateral to get your brand noticed. Outdoor floor and wall graphics are still unusual enough to grab attention and can also be used to guide or direct visitors instead of traditional signage.
- Consider teaming up with a complimentary company – share a space at the event and combine giveaways to offer even more incentives for visitors. You will each benefit from the extra footfall drawn by the complimentary brand, and from lower costs or a larger presence made possible by pooling your resources.
- Offer a free service that will benefit your target market, build positive feeling and necessitate visitors to frequent your space during their time at the event. This can be as simple as providing a coat-check or bag storage service at a street festival.
- What works for daylight will not work in the dark, so remember to create branding for darkness if your event will go on into twilight hours. Coloured lighting, projections, gobos and day-glo giveaways will make sure you are seen.
- Don’t neglect the retail side of your business if applicable. Your presence at any event can be transformed into a fully-functional pop up shop with a little forward planning.
- Take advantage of media power and employ a theme to help get your staff enthused about your event: Great Summer themes include the World Cup (or current sporting events), music festivals, camping, picnics, seaside. A clever marketer can appropriate these themes for even the most corporate of occasions with the right visual elements, refreshments and entertainment.
- Why not change your vehicle graphics to promote your sponsorship or attendance at an event, or add a temporary magnetic graphic? A small change will cost very little and will be seen by many eyes as your company vehicles rack up the miles.
- Building wraps turn your building exterior into a billboard and can be used all year round for ourdoor branding – if your premises is in a high-footfall area or visible from the road for example, don’t overlook this cost-effective technique.
- You may recall FBDs ’99′ ice cream giveaway last year to promote their 99C insurance campaign: that people love free stuff and yummy food is no great revelation, but the key is to find a clever hook that says something positive about your and your products.
- Alternatively, show a sense of humour and give away branded wellies or umbrellas – sure to be a hit at any Irish festival or outdoor event!