...building strategic partnerships, giving tickets away and getting a great Google score.
My goal for the third annual Portland Indie Wine Festival was not to dip into my savings - again. Which meant, I was absolutely determined to keep our marketing budget to a minimum but to try to recover some of the costs associated with producing and promoting the event.
Our concept with the event is to attract the best artisanal winemakers in Oregon - those making 2,000 or fewer cases in the current vintage - and show off their quality, limited production wines in a series of events every May that connect to the trade and public. We aim to preserve and sustain the art of natural, craft winemaking and see Oregon as the promised land.
It's an ambitious program considering it's a hundred percent volunteer at the moment but in any case, the core group who run the event - the judges, the winemakers, the advisory counsel all feel strongly enough to give their time and energy to make it happen. (I owe them, big time!)
Long story short. No budget. Big idea. How do we promote it?
Well, this year we decided to jump into the foray of interactive media and do zero traditional advertising. We took our measly $ 10,000 spent in 2006 and directed that toward a James Beard Dinner in NY - we brought the Festival to New York and media to the dinner. It was amazing.
But the most critical thing we did was to form strategic partnerships with high profile organizations who had highly trafficked websites. People like the Portland Oregon Visitors Association, Powell's.com, Southwest Airlines, Morrison Child and Family Services, etc.
We were able to reach 15 million people through partner links, websites, blogs and on-line media. Wine importers came from as far as Spain to discover these rising star winemakers and bring their wines to Europe.
We went from two consecutive years of loss to earning $ 27,000 which we can reinvest in the Festival.
Simple tactics to partnership on-line promotion:
1. Think about who might want to partner to make your event successful and their business sexy.
2. Talk to them about offering website content to freshen up their site.
3. Offer to do a back link to their site in return for linking to you.
4. Offer two comp tickets to your event as a contest prize for their promotional e-newsletter.
5. Ask for tracking and measurement from the partner on the success of their program. You might just learn, like we did, that in some cases, our festival was their most active promotion and one that most partners were eager to commit to again.
The power of real time promotion: Inviting bloggers to participate in your event to build awareness.