Marketing Your Pet Project
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
I will always remember my first (second) independent event. I had a budget of $2,000.00 and a vision. The vision would rely heavily on my friend’s participation, some heavy discounts from service providers and a whole lot of sleepless nights and home-made props and costumes.
During the day I was at work teaching and marking. In the afternoons I coached the Jr. Girls’ Soccer Team and then finished my 6pm – 10pm shift at the radio station. While on that late shift, I rehearsed the songs I would choose for the stage show and finalized a script. Being at the station gave me insight into a key section of my audience who weren’t impressed by the late-night Reggae and Hip-Hop music scene that was all the rage at the time. The people who called in wanted the Classics and recounted their stories of nightclubs of days gone by. They were people who went to the theatre and had no love for standing up all night to watch a show. This group loved wine and Jazz. They wanted comedy and food. They loved entertainment and they were over 25.
I needed to reach that audience. I spoke with my friend in marketing and she gave me some great tips. She also donated the design of the flyers after we fleshed out the language of the event. Working with her on the little pink party™ was at one point like an internship and completing the visuals was easy. She is definitely a genius.
The right visuals make ALL the difference in marketing. We came up with the most vibrantly tropical flyers and posters. Those posters were placed on Facebook and sent to people who had subscribed to the mailing list on my website.
Island Fm who had been part of the inspiration for the event sponsored the radio advertisements and I gave the disc jockeys tickets to give away to excited listeners through trivia questions. It worked. I soon realized that when the winners only received ONE ticket, they would purchase the second at full price (although the advanced price was discounted).
The promotions were working. We touted that inclusivity of the ticket price, where one could watch a show, enjoy a concert and eat delicious foods. It was a lot, but I was focused on the experience and building the brand more than turning a profit. Thankfully, Bristol Wines and Spirits and in particular the Bacardi brand gave my event some advertisement spots on radio and two newspaper print ads. I could not be any more grateful. That sponsorship gave me over $1,500.00 in advertising value alone. This helped me keep cost down.
Next, I needed to figure out how to keep my audience engaged at the event. I also needed to feed them. I called a friend of mine who had a television show that was doing well and asked him to partner with me. Jamall Petty would do a live demonstration of Bahamian food on my non-existent budget for that event under his brand Island Flare. We managed to keep cost down and cross promote that way.
Leah Eneas, Yashica Carey, Dion Johnson, Sakinah, Keelya, Shanny and Reuben Ruppa Pum Pum Deleveaux showed up to rehearsals faithfully and sold tickets to their friends. I could only afford a 3-piece band and LITERALLY 2 spotlights. I made all of the women’s costumes. My former student, Myrkeeva choreographed the opening and mid-way dance numbers. They were on fire. Sheki’s salon Afrotique sponsored the hair and Sosefina from The National Art Gallery’s Craft Cottage sponsored the jewelry that we modeled. Involving more people made the audience pool larger.
I spent the largest part of my meager budget on the venue. We hosted the event at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. The location had security, parking, and most importantly appeal. It was artsy and beautiful, it had élan. Additionally, I would not have to do too much by way of décor. There was no budget for that. We tore branches off the trees to help decorate the stage and Roscoe got the seating sorted out. We organized the event with theatre seating and that proved to be the wisest thing to do given the audience. I made one slip up. I didn’t have the clout for consignment, nor did I have the budget to buy alcohol, but thankfully, Bristol had brands that they wanted to promote and as sponsorship the event received a few bottles of Vodka, Bacardi and Southern Comfort to stock the bar with. While the audience didn’t mind the mixes, it was clear that they preferred wine. They paid premium prices at the bar. Thankfully!
Starting the event on time was a key thing for me. Jamall began with the demonstrations during cocktail hour, the DJ played classic calypso and Bahamian music. The drummers drummed and we told the story that I had worked on so feverishly for months.
It was such a humble beginning. The audience laughed, danced, clapped and ate with us. They raved about the story line and spoke so highly of the food and actors. Their ONLY complaint was that the event was too short which was definitely a welcomed complaint. It means that we had hit the mark although I had not made a profit.
The product, my event, was managed well from start to finish. The price was a steal. One person said that what we delivered was worth DOUBLE what they paid and definitely showed value for money. The placement of the product was perfect. The promotions through giveaway, email list and direct ticket sales were amazing. We had hit the bullseye. My team and I had successfully completed the event and I was in the red (we’ll talk about this in another post), BUT I knew that the next time my name was heard in relation to this brand, we would have some weight behind the brand and more demand power for potential sponsors.