Thursday, May 12, 2016

Update your online presence before recruiting festival vendors

Fall festival organizers are busy this time of year recruiting vendors. A great way to do it is through festival publications, such as Festival News. Keith Robinson is the publisher and a good friend. Many vendors subscribe to his publication to find out about new festivals. Note, his paper targets festivals in the SE portion of the United States. You may have a similar publication where you live.

Another good way is to work through arts councils. They will pass along information to their members about upcoming opportunities for them to make some money.

You need a really good press release to entice vendors. They are a pretty particular group, wanting to ensure they pay money for a festival which will bring them a lot of traffic with money in their pocket to spend, great location and lots of advance press.

Make sure the Internet is full of information about your festival before you send out vendor requests. Media links and photos can help sell your place as a great festival for vendors, particularly those making handmade crafts.

MARKETING TIP: Get your online presence bold and strong before recruiting festival vendors.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Researching and writing grants ... what do those words mean?

I recently had a wonderful conversation with Mandy Pearce, owner of Funding for Good. She is a wiz-bang guru at the art of helping non-profits and municipalities find grant dollars. She also teaches classes. I was quite amazed with her knowledge.

I invite you to watch this video she produced which addresses the question in the title of this post - "researching" and "writing" grants. It helps to know a good deal about both elements, yet they are different. In this video, she also explains about some of the elements which go into a grant request. If you're unfamiliar with the granting process, this is a great video to watch.

One of the things I learned from her is that communication is central between your organization and someone who is trying to find you grant money. A researcher and a writer need to feel your pain, your angst, so they can craft a compelling request. A non-profit needs to be open and honest about the organization, board members, financial statement, and the list goes on.

MARKETING TIP: If you have non-profit organization and are looking to fund a project, share your opportunity with your community. Local residents may be able to provide additional justification to enhance your application packet. The people that your organization helps will appreciate the opportunity to provide you helpful feedback.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Arts councils are seeking information about diverse, minority art efforts

If you're on a non-profit board, you already know that your organization is facing some challenges. You're not alone. A recent study indicated that other non-profits are looking at broad issues, such as diversity, particularly where government funds are concerned.

I recently talked with a few CEOs of arts councils. Most of them provide some type of grant dollars to local artists and groups. However, a challenge is often actually finding diverse populations to receive the funds.

As one CEO told me, you have to really look for minority groups which have qualifying grant programs - and who want and can use the money.

MARKETING TIP: If you are with a diverse population or minority board, reach out to your local arts council and let them know you exist. When you do a fundraiser, make sure you notify your local media - at least two weeks or more in advance. Get your message out there. Your publicity efforts may pay off in the long run with free money to advance your cause.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fundraising? Here are some basic strategies ...

People often shudder when they hear the word "fundraising." Asking for money is something most people hesitate from offering to do.

Knocking on the doors is one way to do it, but using your noggin and putting some powerful strategies in place is a better way.

And recruiting people who know others is the best way.

I found this article that I want to share with you. Read it. Share it with your board, your executive director, your staff. This works for any organization with a board who dips its toe into that fancy word "development," which really means asking for money.

MARKETING: When people hear that you have a plan in place with the right people, they are more apt to write a check. Publicize your mission and who you have on your team. Get the word out.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finding the right type of board member ...

Companies, non-profits, towns and cities all have boards and commissions of some kind. For a company, it may be a recreation committee. A non-profit may have a board of directors. A governing body will have planning boards, beautification committees, etc. You get my drift.

Well, sometimes the members aren't exactly productive. They aren't fully on board with the mission. Their position is one of status, so they think.

How do you find board members who are really good? You set up interviews.
I invite you to read this and find out the types of questions to ask. They will help you find the right persons for your needs.

MARKETING TIP: When you bring on the right kind of person for your organization, board, committee, word will get out in a positive way. The perception of what you do will bring good will and good press. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bands, do you want to toot your own horn?

Oh, here we go again. I start pulling my hair out this time of year as I write press releases about musical entertainers and bands.

More times than I care to remember, I have had to beg for information, such as hi-res images, the instruments each band member plays, background about the band, ages of the band members, a press kit and the list goes on. I've even had to beg for a phone number, where only an email was available. I've had to beg for interviews with the leader of the band or the sole performer.

I write press releases. I also write articles for print. My releases are used by broadcast and print media, as pre-event publicity.

So, hey you guitar player, you banjo player, you singer - please listen up. If you want people to know your group exists, then spoon feed information to people, like me, who need it.

MARKETING TIP: If you're a member of a band, decide if you want it to be something where you get paid on a regular basis. If you do, then make darned sure that your information on your website or social media site is complete.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Who owns a festival?

I joked one time to a friend who was putting on a public special event that he needed to "own the event." Someone needs to.

Festivals and special events are held in communities, small towns and large cities worldwide. Have you ever thought about who actually owns the event?

Typically there are  scenarios.

1) a local government will create the event and will produce/promote the event with city staff.
2) a local government will create an event and contract with a production company or a non-profit to produce the event
3) an organization or company, not associated with local government, will produce the event, even possibly pulling in other organizations, such as non-profits (church, school, civic). The organization can be a school class, Sunday school group or a neighborhood.

You can't have an event without money. You have to spend some up front, during and then pay bills afterwards. The management of the money should be clearly stated in relationship to the body which created the event and the one which produced it. Something should be in writing as to who owns the event, particularly for insurance and financial liability.

Otherwise, questions about. I've run into these scenarios several times. When questions arise, they tend to put a cloud over the event. That hurts attendance and revenue.

MARKETING TIP: Create a paper trail when you're producing an event. Make sure all the stakeholders know their role, who the decision makers are and who is handling the funds. Once all that is in place, you will move forward with a good event.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Trending - colors, logos, type style

It's a new year! Not only are fashions changing, but so are the looks of advertising - colors, logos, style, fonts and the list goes on.

I find this article particularly fascinating. How many of us consider those things when we're setting forth our corporate look?

Let's look at McDonald's for example. We know the company by the "Golden Arches," but the style of everything keeps changing. It stays new that way.

So I encourage you to read this article and share it with your design team, your advertising agency, your marketing team.

MARKETING TIP: Yes, you do need to be consistent with your look and feel, but you can include some current graphic "fashion," if you will. Remember the ages of your customers. They dictate change.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why do I post? Where do I get my content?

I receive a lot of questions about why I have this blog and where I find my content material.

For years, I worked in the N.C. tourism industry and saw numerous people attend seminars on working with the media. The sessions were quite informative. One would think that attendees would go back to their respective attractions, hotels, tourism offices, chamber offices, festival offices, etc. and incorporate their newly-learned knowledge into their promotional activities.


Instead, I saw those attendees bitch, moan and complain that they couldn't get media coverage.

Oh hello!!!!!!

Since my background includes a lot of years working in various TV and radio jobs, plus a few stints along the way in print, I felt compelled to start this blog.

Later on, I began teaching small business promotion classes at community colleges and saw a need for basic business education. That crosses over to festivals, events, non-profits and attractions - as all of them should operate as a business. Many don't.

I started working with small towns, helping them not only tell their story, but also tidy up their operations and consider grants to spur economic development and quality of life.

Where do I get my material? I keep my eyes and ears open. Something as simple as ordering a beverage at a drive-through window may spark an entire discussion. Or, I may pick up an idea during a conversation, or by watching the news.

So I appreciate your reading my blog. It's educational - with absolutely no advertising. If you find something you can use, steal it.

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Festival organizer/promoter? Copy. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Which season has more festivals? Fall. Why? People are usually gift shopping for Christmas and other special days.

How does your festival compete against the others to get good vendors and a high attendance? Promote it!

And that activity really needs to begin a year in advance. You need to invite your current vendors back, invite others, get on event calendars, build your web presence - and subscribe to the monthly email sent out by the National Cherry Blossom Festival. That organization does the best job in promoting its activities.

I'm not going to tell you more. If you want to learn best practices, review this blog periodically and copy the promotional activities of the National Cherry Blosssom Festival. Yes, you can do it on a low budget. Yes, you can.

MARKETING TIP: Learn from the professionals about how to promote a festival. Copy what works. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Copy. Relax. Be happy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How do you handle a weak executive director?

I received a call today from a friend of mine who is the chairman of a non-profit. He was lamenting to me some difficulty his organization has had throughout the years with the executive director. The chairman said that the ED was not following the job description and that was causing problems. He went on to say that since the ED is the only employee, that they just cannot fire him. They need to be able to work with him.

Sound familiar?

So I suggested that the executive committee sit down with the ED and listen, really listen, to his complaints and then act upon them. Perhaps he feels overwhelmed. The organization does have funds to hire a second person now. Monies had not been available until now. That told me that the ED is doing something right.

Boards need to listen to staff and EDs. They need to hear what is actually going on so difficulties can be eliminated. People on the outside of an organization will see bumps in the road and not donate.

MARKETING TIP: Charity begins at home - within an organization. If it isn't being run well, potential donors will be able to see problems and give elsewhere. So fix internal strife. Just fix it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What truly is the name of your festival?

I'm writing a newspaper story and am confused. The town's website calls the Oct. 17 festival one name, while the chamber of commerce calls it another. At the same time, chamber and town officials call it yet something else.


True story. I can't make this up.

MARKETING TIP: If you are the organizer of a festival, make sure that all the major stakeholders in your community know the name, date, time, etc. of your event. If it's too confusing for your local folks, then just imagine what a blur it can be for the vendors and festival goers you're trying to attract!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I absolutely howled when I read this post on Facebook! Here is a list of email subject lines from bands wanting to promote themselves.

I truly wish there was a school where bands could go to learn how to promote themselves. For instance, band members need to invest in a really good photo session with a very good photographer. The website needs to have information about each member and some interesting trivia. Hearing about awards is one thing, but learning about the band is truly much more useful.

It helps to have a You Tube presence. When I'm writing about a band appearing at a festival, I want to be able to hear what type of music the band performs and see  the members in action. Do they play to the audience? Are they showmen? What kinds of instruments do they play?

MARKETING TIP: Just tell the story.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Podcasting? Get a great camera!

I know an accountant who teaches a lot of classes. She is setting up podcasts. She commented to me that the camera in her computer really wasn't clear, that she needed something else.

MARKETING TIP: It's not truly necessary to have a professional video on You Tube, but it is necessary to have one that people can actually see and hear.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Speak so others can hear you ...

When we're young, we speak very rapidly. However, as we age, the link between what our ears hear and how our brain interprets that sound slows down.

You may notice that some broadcasters, say for the 6:30 p.m. national news, speak more slowly that those at your local TV station. That's because the #1 viewer audience for that national show graduated from school years ago ...

When you use the phone, I encourage you to speak slowly enough that the person on the other end of the phone can understand what you're saying. I was in a Tractor Supply store the other day and watched a girl answer the phone. Watching her lips - and hearing what she had to stay - I still don't know what she said. She spoke so quickly.

So folks, slow down.

MARKETING TIP: Talk to the age of the person - not your own age. That's a difficult lesson to learn if you're less than 40 years old. But try it.

Cold calling pointers

Are you in sales? Every small business owner is. You have a product/service you want to sell. Right? If you're in sales, or are a first-timer, here are some pointers....
  • Research the company you're calling on before you knock on the door. Find out what their products are, who the company decision maker is and their busy season. 
  • Listen. Listen. Listen. It's more important for a potential customer to talk about themselves than it is for you to talk about your product or service. The more they talk, the better they'll feel about you.
  • Never accept NO. That's a standard answer. It can mean "I have no time to talk with you," "I don't know who you are" or "I"m not the person you need to talk with." To me, NO just opens the door to go back.
  • Before you ask for a contract, spend time getting to know your potential client. Sales are made on relationships, not your rate card.
  • Look like you have your act together. I met with two exterminator companies last week. Each one's price, product and procedure was the same. The difference was that one had the paperwork in place for me to sign when he showed up.. No, that wasn't a cold call. But still....
MARKETING TIP: Selling isn't usually something you can do overnight. It takes patience and determination - along with a good handshake, a nice business card and sincerity. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another personal word

I always say you should post on your blog a minimum of twice a month. However, it's been a rough time since Sept. 2014. I won't go into the details, but since then I've lost both parents. I've learned what "numb" means. So as you see, I've not posted since April.

As I pick up the pieces of my life, I'll be posting again - sharing lots of new information I'm learning to help you promote your small business, festival, town ....

Friday, April 10, 2015

What is the difference between your domain name and the name of your Facebook page?

I recently talked with a small business owner who told me he owned his domain name. When I double-checked at, I saw where the domain name was available. He didn't know it. He thought that just because he was on Facebook and the name of his page was what his domain name would have been, he thought he owned it.


You can name your business or organizational Facebook page just about anything you want. That is not your domain name.

A domain name is the name you would use for your website. It would have a www. in front of the name you choose.

I cannot stress enough how important it is for every business to own it's own domain name - and to make sure the ownership is listed as the company's name - not a technical person who bought it for you. That's another discussion based upon the school of hard knocks.

MARKETING TIP: The name of your Facebook page is not your domain name. Make life simple for yourself. Go to and purchase your domain name. You don't have to have a website to do it. 

Cell phone? How do customers find your number?

Do you use a cell phone for your business? If so, how do people find your number? 

If you have a strong web presence, then yes, you can be found. But what about the business owner who has little to no web presence? How does he get new business?

Granted, phone books are history. Current generations don't even know what they are. Land lines are soon to be history, even though I feel they have much better reception and reliability. I hate talking with someone on a cell phone because the pitch hurts my ears. It's very difficult for me to usually understand what is being said on the other end of the conversation.

Cell phones are sexy. People have to have the latest one, the one with the most apps, the greatest memory and speed.

But all of that isn't really necessary when you're trying to get your own business phone number out in the public's eye.

MARKETING TIP: If you're using a cell phone for your business, put as much energy into promoting the number online as you do playing with your apps and gadgets. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Promote your own booth in an antique mall

I recently talked with the owner of an antique mall who said he didn't believe in updating his website or increasing his web presence. WHAT??!! He said that when people type "antiques" in his city, his site shows up first along with a map.

I wonder if his booth vendors know that.

So if you're a booth vendor, you need to be out there promoting your own place. Use every online mechanism you can. If the management of your mall isn't going to bend over backwards to promote the store, then it's your responsibility to do it as you show your own items. Let the management know what you're doing.

In the long run, you'll sell more items and your store will make more money. Then negotiate the cost of your booth.

MARKETING TIP: Never rely upon someone else to promote your own company. You need to be out there in the marketplace - too.