Event Marketing Case Study: Roaring Twenties Events
Case Study: Building an event brand from the ground up and achieving a sell out audience.
Long before I launched Barker Social, I was a niche event organizer on the side. Organizing great events is passion project of mine. I have years of experience hosting and marketing events in Toronto, New York City, and the Niagara Region. This was a big part of how I transitioned from running events in the King & Bay corporate world to working as a full-time marketer, as running an event is at least 50% marketing. This is true of most businesses—50% marketing and 50% business-specific operations.
And so, with a passion for all things vintage and the approach of 2020, I applied everything I know to create Roaring Twenties Events:
Roaring Twenties Events is celebrating the Roaring Twenties in 2020 in Toronto with a series of exuberant, freewheeling, wild retro parties and 1920s-themed immersive experiences.
Using everything I knew as a professional marketer, in under 9 months, I sold-out my first event with a long waiting list, with many more events still to come! Here are some insights into how I did it.
Your Branding Matters
From day one, I knew that having a fully-realized brand image was going to be key for winning over and creating a lasting relationship with my audience. I invested the time and money into doing it right, engaging my graphic designers to establish brand assets that went beyond just a logo and a few images. We also paid for a good amount of stock imagery to support the brand.
With the brand image established, I used all of the brand assets to immediately create a website. This included an SSL certificate, installation of the Facebook pixel, and Google Analytics for collecting data. As these all interface with social media, I immediately needed to set up social media accounts for the brand on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For YouTube, I decided to piggyback on my existing personal brand, which tied in smoothly with the nature of the event brand.
Personal branding also played a big part in the success of the brand’s first event. Rather than just appearing as an unknown, mysterious entity, I felt it was important from the get-go to make myself and my husband known to our audience. Since this is a niche brand, our personal enthusiasm for the theme has added to the feeling of trust and interest that we’ve built with our audience.
Facebook is Key
Your target audience demographic is crucial. For my event and brand, Facebook has been key. Creating a Facebook Event very early on with “Save the Date” graphics was critical to our success. This method is a free way to start to get the word out about your event. As soon as people start to mark themselves as “interested” in the event, their friends in their network also start to get notifications in their newsfeed about the event, which helps spread the word at no charge. The event page then becomes a vehicle to stay in touch with interested people, keep them updated, and to push ticket sales.
One lesson that’s hard for very small business owners to learn is that you have to spend money to make money. Early on, I ran the Facebook Event as an ad with a budget of just $100, but targeted very strategically to create the right interest and buzz about the event. This contributed to the very early distribution of the event in newsfeeds, which carried beyond the $100 budget, as people continued to mark themselves as “interested” and also interacted with the content on the wall of the event.
As soon as the brand and Event pages were created, I began to post interesting on-brand updates regularly. This wasn’t necessarily news about the event; it was often content related to the brand niche that would keep people interested and engaged without actually trying to sell them anything (yet). This helped drive brand awareness and establish the brand in people’s minds.
By the way, going live on Facebook during the event is also a great way to gain interest for your next event!
Exclusive Newsletter Perks
From very early on, I also made it clear that there would be perks to signing up for the brand’s newsletter. The main perk is that I always offer pre-sale tickets to my subscribers before public tickets go on sale. This makes the most loyal fans excited and eager to buy tickets during the pre-sale window. With such a method, once you do put the public tickets on sale after a defined date, you already have momentum with sales.
For my next event, I included advance ticket perks for both subscribers _and_ previous ticket holders. As a result, I was able to sell 40% of my tickets before public ticket sales were even opened!
To create further awareness of the event, I ran a small contest and gave away a pair of tickets to the winner. This also drove people to follow us on social media and sign up for the newsletter, which helped strengthen the brand’s connection with its audience.
When it was time for the public tickets to go on sale, I didn’t make this announcement merely by boosting posts. Rather, I used the much more sophisticated Ads Manager to run ads on Facebook and Instagram. I chose this route as when it comes to marketing to my audience, Facebook has proven more useful than Instagram or Twitter. However, the platform that works best for you will depend on your target demographic.
When selling tickets, the goal is to drive people to your website’s ticket page or landing page where you’re not just selling the tickets but _also_ tracking with the Facebook pixel. With the Facebook pixel, you’re able to retarget people who have expressed interest in the event but haven’t pulled the trigger on buying just yet. That’s how you turn more warm leads into buyers!
An Event Hashtag Is an Absolute Must
Any time I mentioned the event or anything to do with the brand, I pushed my event hashtag: #roaring20sTO. It’s a unique hashtag with the “TO” (Toronto) at the end, since on its own, #roaring20s is far too global and not useful for tracking. It’s also as easy-to-remember as I could make it without the hashtag being completely global and over-used.
The hashtag became most useful once the first event was underway and later, for follow-up marketing. People used the tag their posts and photos, which has helped act as free publicity for the brand and for my next events. Here you can also see the free hashtag Wall I’ve created for the event and the code can be embedded on any website:
Instagram is Also Important
**Just about any good event marketing strategy includes Facebook, but you shouldn’t forget about the other social media platforms. Though my demographic has a much smaller following on Instagram, it’s been a great place to connect with some of the most avid social media users. It also works great as a showcase for event branding and photography.
Twitter has been less important for this brand, but that may change when I run events that are more jazz music-oriented, since there is a very active #TorontoJazz community on Twitter.
Print & Other Paid Ads
While I did have some print materials made for the event, I did not find them to be useful and likely won’t use this marketing strategy for the brand’s events again. The event sold out before I even had a chance to give out most of the cards I had printed! In the future, I may have just a few cards printed again, but if so, I’ll make them generic to the brand without any information about specific events.
Photography & Video
Having a professional photographer and videographer on-site at my brand’s first event has proven essential for marketing my next events.
The great photos and videos shot created a foundation of “real life” brand assets that are making my brand more real and tangible than I was able to achieve through my original stock imagery. While those stock images were important at the brand’s inception, I now have a much more robust base of brand assets that will be key for future event marketing.
A Professional Toronto Event Marketing Agency Makes All the Difference
As you can see, marketing an event is a huge undertaking and takes a lot of work and commitment. When it comes to marketing events, it’s something I’m clearly intimately familiar with and also passionate about. Consider making me and my talent part of your event dream team! We have years of experience organizing and marketing events with a proven track record for success. I’d love to hear about your event, so contact me today and let’s chat about it!
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