Hayes Valley Farm is an urban farming project in San Francisco whose mission is to serve as a community and agricultural hub for residents to connect with one another, grow their own food, and learn about sustainable ecological systems. We put their question about how to utilize experiential marketing in promoting their events to our industry panel.
Notes: While the short time before the event happens makes marketing the Winter Wonderfarm more difficult, there is still a lot that can be done. Also, while these suggestions are event-specific, many of can be tweaked to apply to future seasonal events.
Here’s what our industry panel said:
1. Create a mobile garden showing the life-cycle of gardening from planting, to seeding to harvest to your plate. Take this mobile experience on the road to parks, rec centers, libraries (to coincide with kids librarian book reading times), and even daycare facilities. Target the communities in close proximity of Hayes Valley initially then expand out.
2. In addition to your for-pay program, start a 1 hour session that happens during the week as an introductory to childrens gardening. Publicize this as a free event to the SF publications and mommy/nanny networks. This should increase buzz about your organization, get more people through the door and will ultimately bring more paying patrons through the door as well.
3. Partner with local restaurants to have some of the food that is produced be used by their restaurants, with the hook that they list you as a source on their menus.
4. Have existing patrons take photos with their children in front of a Hayes Valley Farms branded sign or backdrop. Encourage them to post to Facebook about the great experience.
—Christian Jurinka, Managing Partner at Attack!
Tap into seasonal sentiment and connect with families while they’re out on holiday-themed activities.
Try this: Partner with local Christmas tree lots/vendors to see if you can set up an information booth or hand out colorful fliers on upcoming workshops. Help tie the trees to the cars (this will save the lot money and give you a captive audience). Engaging with families in this setting will help them think of your community workshops as a holiday tradition, and not just as a “one-and-done” event. If you can get Mom, Dad and the kids associating Winter Wonderfarm with buying the Xmas tree, sledding or other holiday “sentimental” activities, you’re looking at return customers and positive community word-of-mouth all year round.
— Andrew Loos, Attack! Managing Partner
I go by Hayes Valley Farm on my way home from work every day and always enjoy reading the signs on their fence made by kids.
A) PULL-TAB POSTERS
I would make up a few Pull-Tab Posters using the artwork from those signs to play up the fact that the camp is for kids. Hang the posters in local merchant windows on Hayes Street (they’ll all say yes to something for kids) and as close to the French American School as possible, as well as the park in Hayes Valley. If they have extra volunteers, place posters up in Noe Valley stores (lots of parents), Natural Food Stores (Whole Foods, Rainbow Foods, etc) and Gardening Supply Stores.
- The posters should quickly explain the Event, Dates, Ages and a great call-to-action like: “Sign Up Now for our seasonal day camp for KIDS, inspiring connection to growing food, community, and compost piles of fun! (Space is Limited so Call/Email Soon!)”
- The Pull-Tabs should contain as much info as possible: Event Name, Dates, Ages, Web URL, Email, Phone #.
- Always tear off one or two of the tabs in the middle.
As soon as possible, send out a quick email to those who have signed up to get them excited for the event, but also to let them know that space is limited, so if they have any friends who are interested to have them sign up as soon as possible. An existing customer is your best way to spread the word, so ask for their help.
Plus, parents are busy people, so there are bound to be some who meant to send info to a friend they told about the camp and forgot. This email is their reminder and opportunity to forward it on. Remember that by making the email exciting to those who are already attending, you’re selling all of the excitement to those who are getting the email forwarded to them. Make sure the subject line sells both the excitement and a helpful hint to forward it to friends.
— Noel Chandler CEO/Co-Founder, Mosio