Music festivals are big business. In 2017 alone, live music events brought over £4 billion to the UK economy, and that figure is set to rise year-on-year. There’s never been a better time to join the UK’s booming music festival scene, but there is lots of competition. If you’re just starting out, implementing a robust promotional strategy is essential to ensure a successful festival with a strong turn-out. The key to driving attendance at your festival is to establish brand recognition, generate sustained hype for the event and build long-lasting connections with fans through your promotional strategy.
We share three proven ways that you can maximise your promotional efforts and make your festival an event that can’t be missed!
#1 Get Social Media Savvy
Digital is king when it comes to promoting your music festival. Most of us spend a hefty chunk of our waking hours glued to a device consuming written, visual and audio content across multiple platforms. Though we may bemoan this digital addiction in our personal lives, this ‘switched-on’ mentality actually presents a vital opportunity for savvy marketers.
Cultivating a strong digital and social presence for your music festival is an effective and cost-friendly way of building brand recognition, engaging with fans and ultimately driving attendance at your event. With so many different platforms, dizzying user stats and engagement data it can be hard to make the first step. To focus your efforts, map out your social media strategy early on, identifying your primary platforms, advertising budget and engagement goals.
Here’s a few simple tips to help you get started:
- Curate your Content
Remember, your music festival is a brand not just an event. Implementing a compelling content programme across your digital and social channels reinforces a strong brand presence and strengthens brand recognition. Keep your content consistent, engaging and relevant across all platforms. Start updating your channels as early as possible, building suspense for the event with engaging and interactive content such as behind-the-scenes videos, headliner teasers and quizzes.
- Create a Hashtag
Don’t underestimate the power of the nifty hashtag! This simple, free tool can expand your reach to a diverse audience, helps you track user engagement and monitors real-time interaction when the big day comes. It’s also a great way to start a conversation with your followers and gain valuable feedback after the event. Don’t rush it! Take time to think over the hashtag, and decide on it as early as possible- keep it short and sweet, appropriate and easy to spell. All publicity is good publicity, unless it’s for a hashtag fail…
- Use Targeted Ads to Market to your Niche
Investing in paid social media ads is essential to ensuring your posts get seen, and reach the right people. Experiment with boosting different event posts, tailored towards the audiences you have in mind. Remember to keep a close eye on the engagement levels for each post, this will give you a better understanding of what’s performing well and whether you need to re-think your strategy.
#2 Build Brand Recognition with Custom Merchandise
Commissioning a range of custom branded merchandise that showcases your festival is a proven way of increasing brand awareness and generating some much-needed cold hard cash!
One idea is to offer merchandise as an add-on item alongside the event tickets to increase revenue at the point of purchase. Or, incorporate the merchandise into a tiered ticketing system- with VIP packages including a bumper pack of covetable festival goodies. In keeping with their environmentally friendly ethos, Shambala festival offers the option to purchase a branded water bottle or eco-friendly reusable coffee cup when buying an event ticket. This not only promotes their eco-friendly mission to reduce single-use plastic, but also turns festival-goers into walking ambassadors for their brand everytime they use the product.
Boomtown festival took this one step further by teaming up with eco-warrior charity Raw Foundation to create a Boomtown branded stainless steel bottle, available to purchase through either organisation. This partnership boosts awareness of both the festival and the charity to a wider audience, drives revenue and promotes their joint aim of eliminating single-use plastic.
Why not harness the power of the freebie and give festival-goers the chance to take home some covetable custom merch for free! Hosting social media giveaways is a powerful tool to build hype for your festival and encourage sustained social engagement on your pages throughout the year. This could be anything from a simple ‘like to win’ competition to a creative photo contest or even a quiz. The good news is, hosting a competition is scalable to suit any budget. If money’s tight, look for low-cost giveaway items like tote bags, keyrings, pins or mugs that look good without breaking your budget. When it comes to custom festival merch, the possibilities really are endless! Just remember to make sure that you maintain brand consistency across the various products by sticking to your brand guidelines throughout the design process.
#3 Think Outside the Box
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your promotional strategy. If your focus has been on digital promotion, incorporate some ‘IRL’ activities to encourage followers to engage with your brand offline before the event. One idea could be to hold a treasure hunt around secret locations or landmarks in the local area, with a pair of festival tickets up for grabs.
Getting creative with your promotional efforts also provides the perfect opportunity to build buzz around your festival on social media. Take for example the recent social media frenzy caused by Glastonbury festival’s first headliner reveal for 2019. Instead of the usual tried-and-tested social media announcement posts, music festival giants Glastonbury ditched digital in favour of a more old-school, low-key approach, unveiling Stormzy’s appearance via a poster in his local Oxfam shop. The subsequent social posts from local residents and Stormzy himself had the internet buzzing for days afterwards- a lifetime in the digital world!
Clearly, Glastonbury’s marketing budget and resources are mammoth, but their PR stunt can be replicated on a much smaller scale. The key here is to come up with a unique concept and then build buzz across various channels, incorporating a mix of social media posts, email marketing and physical ads to reach as many people as possible. This expands your reach and avoids your promotional efforts being lost in the maelstrom of music festival noise in the upcoming months!
These are just some simple ideas to help you get started on the road to sure-fire festival success. Use one or more of our top tips to kickstart your promotional campaign and your event will be the talk of the town in no time!