Online Events Marketing for Your Small Town in Five Easy Steps

by Joanne Steele on December 10, 2010

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Events are the lifeblood of small towns. They are great for getting the town together, and their fantastic ways to attract visitors.

Three Bears Table Setting

The Three Bears for Tea entry in the McCloud Fantasy Christmas Table Decorating Contest

Today, I’m going to use a little event in the nearby town of McCloud, California, to show you some ways to improve the marketing for your small town events.

McCloud, a town of 1300, does events very well. There is something going on all the time, from their “Dog and Pony Show” parade after Thanksgiving to their annual Lumberjack Fest in the summertime.

This weekend you can come to McCloud and visit all their stores to vote for your favorite Fantasy Christmas Table Setting.  A fun little event to encourage traffic in their wonderful gift shops and galleries.

The problem is, it’s hard to find out about these wonderful treats in the place that most people are looking for fun these days, on the internet.

Sound familiar?

Here’s a Five Step process for getting more online attention for your events.

1. Get your latest event up, front and center on the most popular page of your website, your homepage.

Make it big with a great picture of your town’s ideal customer having fun at the event. Don’t have events pictures? Start this year by getting some. And they can’t be pictures of stuff (like the picture I’ve posted right here). It needs to show people having fun.

Make your homepage event headline clickable to your interior events page for all the details. On the events page, include another picture with the details. And, remember, you don’t have to write those details like you were posting a newspaper events calender listing. You’re not paying by the word! There isn’t a space issue. Write it like an invitation to your ideal customer.

… and by the way, if you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “Your Ideal Customer,” take a moment and get the free e-book in the right hand column. Ideal Customer is explained in there, with a worksheet to help you identify who your ideal customer is. Marketing for Free in 2010 will be coming down in a week so don’t delay – it’s free, in exchange for your email address, which will never be used for anything but to check in once a week with the latest from RuralTourismMarketing.com.

2. Go to your town’s Facebook page and link to your website events page.

The little link icon is next to  “attach” in the Share box at the top. Use the “what’s on your mind” space to write a personal note to your fans to come, and to let their friends know about your event.

Next create an events listing on your business page. If you don’t have an events tab yet, just click the “+” on your dashboard at the top, and Facebook will walk you through setting one up.

3. Go to your Twitter page, and tweet about your event.

Tweet with a shortened link to your events page in 120 characters max so people can retweet you without content dropping off.

Twitter is more immediate than Facebook, so plan a series of invitation posts over the week before the event:  Day 1. Plan to come next weekend with a shortened link. Day 2. Who’s going to love this event in 120 characters. Day 3. What’s going to happen. Day 4: What you’re going to miss if you don’t come. Day 5: One more fun, enticing detail. Day 6:  Another enticing detail.  Day 7: What they’re missing and a final invite. Always include the shortened link to your events page on your website.

You can actually write these tweets ahead of time and schedule them. At Hootsuite, you can do it through your composing box at the top of your screen. Want to know more about Hootsuite? – I just wrote about it:  Rural Businesses: Get your Social Media Organized With Hootsuite.

4.Talk about your event on your blog.

Make this entry fun by talking about behind the scenes preparation, or what’s planned for each day of a multiple day event, or a profile of a key townsperson responsible for some part of the event.

Again, you can schedule this if you’re using WordPress for your blog…. which is the all around best blog and website program for small towns and businesses.

5. Ask every other business in your town to follow the same marketing steps.

This entire online marketing process can be written and scheduled in a few short hours, maximum. The return on that investment for your town will be huge. Think about how exciting it would be to attract 200 or 500 or 1000.. or even 50 more people to your event with a small time investment.

How is your town using the internet to market your events?

Here are three previous posts with more info on Facebook and Twitter:

Is Facebook a Good Marketing Tool For Rural Tourism Businesses?

How Facebook Is Helping a Successful Rural Tourism Business

How to use Twitter for Small Town Tourism Businesses

1 Nichole McCown December 16, 2010 at 9:34 am

I really like your seven step tweet strategy. It’s my new plan of attack for my not-so-rural event marketing.

2 Joanne Steele December 16, 2010 at 10:28 am

Thanks Nicole, Track your click-through rates on each day of your campaign and let us know what you discover.

3 Joanne Steele December 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

Hi Nicole, Track your click-through rates for each of the 7 days and let us know what you discover.

4 Jessica December 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Another excellent article!

5 Joanne Steele December 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

Thanks Jessica! Nice website – stonesthrowcafe.ca.

6 Herb Lawrence December 10, 2010 at 10:32 am

Joanne thanks excellent recommendations for my small rural towns, their chambers and small business folks on easy to use tips that will get their events noticed. In rural Northeast and North-Central Arkansas we have a number of towns with tourism related themes they just need to start thinking about how to get the word out. Understand you may be coming to Arkansas in 2011 to work with our network. Look forward to meeting you.

7 Joanne Steele December 12, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks Herb, Yes, I’m going to be working in seven locations in Arkansas in April. I hope folks from your rural towns can make it to one of them.

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