Pyro-Picnic, the project I have been working tirelessly on for 6 months has come to a close. This blog represents my learnings, achievements and the skill set involved in promoting an event of this scale.
The big finale:
Approximately 4,000 people came to Pyro-Picnic over the Friday and Saturday nights, and they were treated to the biggest and best fireworks display that Lincoln had ever seen. If you don’t believe me, you can watch the official display video here.
As well as the fireworks they were treated to moto stunts from Stannage Stunt Team, delicious food, including divine pizza and amazing tacos, a fairground and a retail village of local businesses and traders which was sponsored by the local digital paper – The Lincolnite.
The DJ on the night was amazing and after the 18 months we have had, for me to stand at the front and look back at all of the families sat next to their cars with chairs, picnic blankets having a really good time was a real sight to behold.
The heart of a lion:
It was not plain sailing to get Pyro-Picnic to the success it was, even a week before the event there were discussions of cancelling. Even on the first night there were fears that there were not going to be enough tickets sold, but 300 extra tickets were sold between the Friday night and the Saturday night, more on that later. The bravery of the two owners Aaron and Andy had paid off, and no matter how long I work in marketing I don’t know if I will meet two more people with the same heart as these two. They literally put everything into the event, when many other events were cancelling (McFly cancelled their gig taking place just a week before), they looked for ways to go ahead and make their event viable.
A lion’s heart will only get you so far and without good marketing you are not going to get people to the event. So, it is now time to look back at the marketing of the event to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t.
Across the Friday and Saturday night we sold less than 20 on the gate tickets. The marketing plan therefore focused on driving traffic to https://pyro-picnic.galaeventsltd.co.uk/. The key strategies for this were a paid Facebook campaign, promoting across local newspaper websites, email, and organic social media posts.
The key thing with any strategy is realising that some elements will work better than others, and at different stages across the campaign. As a marketing professional the key things to work out are which tactics added to the success of the event and which drained resource. On the success side it was clear to see that the paid Facebook ads were a huge success. There were over 10,000 clicks to the website with an average of £0.13 per click. On the flip side we spent a lot of money with one local paper for about 400 clicks to the website, the toughest thing to accept at times is that we won’t get everything right.
As we got closer to the event, we started to do leaflet drops around Lincoln to get as much brand awareness as possible. With a digital ticket-based event I tend to stay away from too much non-digital marketing and have moved away from print advertising in local media, especially if the budget is tight. However, there has been evidence during the lockdowns of the last few years that leaflets still work, they are put in the house and people still view them, and it can be a few days before they are put in the bin, this evidence combined with the relatively low cost meant that we used the leaflets for brand awareness.
Despite all the marketing effort and all of the hard work, it appears the combination of Covid and a first time ever event had taken its toll. We got to the Friday night and the ticket sales had not reached our targets. But then something changed, people saw the show and people witnessed what an amazing event we had put on, and they talked about it. They posted it on social, they tagged Pyro-Picnic into the posts and I spent all day Saturday, commenting, liking, posting on social media channels, including links to the tickets. In that 24 period the extra 300 car tickets were sold. The key message here is – People buy from people!
Our Friday turned into a loss leader. The display and the event were critical in showing people what we could do and once people saw this and shared it we got more people wanting to come.
The key learning point – show people what you do, don’t be afraid to run the occasional lost leader, once people see what you can do they will tell other people. This is why networking is so powerful, the person you are speaking to might not buy from you but they might know others that will.
Looking to year two:
The enjoyment of a successful event can only last so long and now we have to look to year two, and the most important part of this is data, both for review and future marketing. We will look back at all elements of the campaign and make sure that we invest more in the areas that worked and less in the areas that didn’t. The second thing that we will do is use the contact details from those that attended both as spectators and stall holders to make sure that maintain visibility and regular contact and to make sure that they are aware of when the event is being run for next year so that we have an earlier ticket uptake to help fund the rest of the promotional activity.
Year 1 for any event is always the hardest, it is unlikely to make a profit but when done properly and when supported by a good marketing strategy it can