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 By: Rosaria Cain, CEO

Festivals are part American life and when marketed correctly can be tremendously successful. Fountain Hills puts on two huge events each year, Festival of Arts and Crafts and the Great Fair, both drawing in nearly 150,000 people. This is the top draw among the many arts festivals in Arizona. The Festival of Arts and Crafts is free and offers over 500 artists from around the country a chance to sell sculptures, paintings, ceramics, jewelry and crafts in the idyllic setting of Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Sharon Morgan is a good friend and the event producer for Fountain Hills. She has relied on a formula that has created these results but continues to fine tune it. Here are her five fundamentals for Festival Marketing:

  1. Fill your festival with quality artists in a range of prices and merchandise, creating great ambiance and enthusiasm. “This has taken me years to do and I take great pride in honing the list and keeping the festival high in talent and variety,” said Morgan.
  2. Be consistent with the level of quality so that the festival goers know what to expect and look forward to it. This builds a certain buzz. According to Morgan, “word of mouth” is her top marketing vehicle. “We want people to talk about their experience and bring back friends,” she said. “It’s one of the things I hear all the time”.
  3. Create a presence in the news with a public relations effort. Morgan suggests getting in the local event directories – online and offline, as well as securing traditional PR like the newspaper. “It makes the event part of everyday conversation,” I want people to ask each other, are you going?” Last year, Morgan received over $40,000 in media value from her public relations program.
  4. Build a good marketing program that will serve multiple purposes. First, to get new people to the festival, and second, to remind local residents that it is “that time of the year” again. Morgan has employed a media mix of :60 messages with artist interviews, and :30 television messages. These look like live television broadcasts, complete with a newscaster. This year, she also added a paid Facebook campaign to the mix. According to Morgan, the right media mix is an important part of the festival planning process. “You need to make sure you are attracting all ages,” she said. “This diversity requires different media, which we review and adjust every year.”
  5. Make sure there is good signage so that people can find the event. Morgan adds that she uses dozens of portable sandwich board signs directing people to the event and its parking.

Morgan has an additional fundamental for Festival Marketing, but it’s one that’s not exactly in her area of control. She says great weather is important, “but then,” she adds, “that’s up to the man upstairs.”