I was catching up on Grey’s Anatomy and realized Christina Yang is awesome. Yes, I know she’s just a character on a TV show. Maybe I should be thanking the Grey’s writers, but I wanted to give a shout out to the character. In last week’s episode, Christina tells a man what he needs to hear, even though it’s not what he wants to hear. This was refreshing to me, because so often we tell people what they want to hear and not what they need to hear. I’m a pretty tell it like is kind of person, sometimes maybe too much. I guess that makes me, Dr. Phil, and Christina Yang kindred spirits.
This is my second year running our local walk. The walk site has been up for weeks, but registration and fundraising are slow. We’ve sent emails to last year’s participants, but we haven’t seen a spike in registrations. Any ideas on what we should do?
Not sure what to do next in Pennsylvania
Dear Not sure what to do next in Pennsylvania,
Thank you for your email. In my best virtual Christina Yang voice I’m about to tell you something you need to hear, but probably don’t want to hear. Having an event site is great, but it’s just one part of the event puzzle. Sending an email to past participants is good, but not good enough. If you want to generate event activity you need to do more. From what you shared in your email, it sounds like you need to create a multi-channel marketing plan. This sounds more complicated than it really it and I’m here to help.
So often folks make the mistake that simply launching a website (any kind of website) will generate activity, but does a tree falling in the woods make a sound if no one is around? That tree alone in the woods is just like your website alone waiting for someone to happen upon it. Marketing your website is equally as important as creating one.
Here’s what you need to properly market your upcoming event:
- Audit Your Resources: What communication channels are available to you? Email, Facebook, Twitter, organization website, Blog, local media opportunities, good ole’ USPS mail (I have to say I still appreciate an event mail piece), the phone (call past participants). Once you’ve outlined your available resources the next step is to expand your reach.
- Expand Your Reach: Board members – do they have connections to help promote your event. Your committee – who do they know? Have committee members hang posters around town. Are any of your participant’s bloggers? If so, ask them to help promote your event?
- Work Internally & Cross-Departmentally – Do you have a marketing person on staff? If so, make this individual your friend. Find out what other communications are being sent and make sure the event is included. Work with other departments to promote your event. Talk to program services staff – maybe they have an event coming up and will give you a few minutes to speak about the walk. They probably also have a list of people you could email. Do you have an advocacy program? Advocates make great fundraisers, be sure to contact them.
- Create Thoughtful Messaging. Before sending a blast to your Past Participants, Advocates or Program Services list, create thoughtful messages for these segments. You’ll want to acknowledge their involvement with your organization, educate them about the event in a way that connects with their current involvement and don’t forget to ASK them to sign up. Be forward in your ask. It’s important that the ask, does not get lost in the email
I hope this helps. The most important thing to remember is that if you want people to sign up for your event, you need to tell them about it! Ok… Billy Joel’s Tell Her About It is now stuck in my head. Happy TGIF blog-o-sphere!