We've been busy week getting ready for the Big Day. Here's my marketing checklist for anyone else who's considering running an open day in conjunction with a Nationwide Promotional Event / Week or independently. Please comment if you have any other great ideas :)
As soon as you decide on an open day:
add the event to your website with all the critical info - date, times, location, where to get more info. Include search engine-friendly keywords.
add your details to online event directories. In NZ eventfinder is one of the best as media use this to find things to cover. Local newspapers may also have "What's On" sections so contact them too. Link to your website.
add your details to any alpaca association database, facebook page, forums. Link to your website.
The earlier you do this the better from a SEO (search engine optimization) perspective. The more hits you are getting on national directories and the more links through to your website, the more Google's algorithms like you!
Three months before:
contact local breeders to see if they want to collaborate on advertising or run a joint "alpaca trail". Ideally each farm needs a different focus. We worked with Elysian Alpacas this year and they ran demos of what you can do with the fibre and we ran workshops on alpacas as pets and for breeding, plus had alpacas to take for a walk.
set a budget for paid advertising (ours was $100 this year - $27 on Facebook and $75 on a newspaper ad in our local free newspaper the Friday before the event).
check when advert / editorial copy needs to be submitted. If you get it in earlier than the deadline and the newspaper is anything like our lovely Tauranga Sun you might get free mentions in the weeks running up to the event too.
start using every free online promotional tool available: facebook, blog, twitter, google+, Pinterest, email newsletter if you use them - and always link back to your website.
One month before:
get copy to newspapers
finalise posters and put them up around the area. I did our vets, Farmlands, Wrightsons, RD1, library, creative fibre groups - all of them free. I usually do a few kid-friendly venues too but those posters just seemed to sit on the passenger seat of my car for a month this time...I was always running late!
keep updating your online promotional tools
set up your facebook campaign. I ran mine three weeks before the event this year to see how much interest I'd continue to get once the ad finished and it steadily built for the two subsequent weeks as well
One week before:
check that you have been contacted by the newspaper to sign off on their artwork and copy
make up your flyers for the day and print them prior, giving you some leeway if you notice that you've run out of toner at 9am on the morning of the event :) [who me? never!]
check you've got everything that you need for your displays, including things like business cards, clean table cloths, tape, marker pens, drawing pins - all the kinds of things that you think you have until the day itself!
make up your name badges, freshen up any promotional clothing you are planning on wearing
keep updating your online promotional tools...
and then just pray to the weather gods :)