Event Marketing Gone Wrong

2 Nov

Who would miss this?

My neighbor raised $1,000 for a charity in less than 5 days for the opportunity to rappel down the side of a historic hotel in downtown Austin.

I thought, “This is going to be awesome, the charity is going to receive amazing exposure.”  I could already envision the crowds of people that had made plans to attend and the  downtown foot traffic that would come to a complete stop when they saw what was happening.

Guess what? None of this occurred. Some people stopped, but only to look at the event MC to figure out what she was talking about (her voice echoed for blocks). One person even asked, “Is (insert the sponsor name) hosting a contest?” There was no charity signage, or very little, on the side of the street where the event sponsor, announcer and spectators were positioned.

Where did this event go wrong?

  • Target audience: volunteers for the organization, adrenaline junkies, companies that wanted free publicity, anyone interested in helping out a nonprofit should have been targeted as fundraisers, sponsors or attendees for this event.  The one ad I heard for this only requested fundraisers.  I never heard a schedule or request for spectators.
  • Promotion: every business within a 1 block radius should have known this was going to happen so they could hop out, grab a coffee and check out people rappelling 15 stories down an iconic hotel.
  • Awareness: it was not evident whom this event was for. The sponsor name was more apparent than the charity that was putting on this event. Some additional signage, event volunteers and charity participants would have made a difference. No one took the time to tell me, one of about 12 spectators, about the charity while I stood there for over an hour.
  • Voice: unfortunately the MC stayed on the microphone all day.  It would have been great to hear the voice of the individuals that had raised at least $1,000 and rappelled down the side of the building all in the name of charity.  It was a missed opportunity to hear from others what this charity and event meant to them.  It would have been great to hear from a couple of volunteers even.  Anyone that had a passion for this charity could have helped fill time (about 15 minutes) between each person rappelling.

The highlight of the event was my neighbor wearing a banana suit while launching herself down the building. For her sake, and the sake of the charity, I wish she’d had more people cheering her on.

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2 Responses to “Event Marketing Gone Wrong”

  1. Cribit71 November 3, 2010 at 1:26 am #

    I concur. I was at that event and while it was fun, it could have been so much more. Charities need some of your marketing and PR expertise. And a few more bananas!

  2. Akraybill November 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    As a nonprofit fundraising professional it pains me to know the time that was put in to this event and wondering what did it yield? Money should not EVER be the main focus of these events. You are missing the target if this is your plan. It must be a full experience. There are too many nonprofits in town vieing for our community’s attention.

    Several things must always be considered when doing an event like this:

    – What is the value of the event? Is it worth the time?
    – What is our focus / desired outcome? Mission awareness? Vision awareness? Fundraising?
    – Will you be gaining new friends / volunteers / donors through this event?
    – How will the community know about this event?
    – What will entice them to join us rather than another organization’s event? What is different than others?
    – Will they know your name and your mission after leaving the event?
    – What is the follow up? A lot of organizations have great events but no follow up!

    Hopefully this event realized the error of their ways and have figured out what to improve on for next year. Sadly nonprofits forget the importance of marketing/branding themselves and we depend on voices to help spread our word/our mission.

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