Success with a Special Kind of Special Event
by Frank Gromling
Ocean Publishing is a traditional book publisher doing nontraditional things to succeed in a difficult economic time. Sure, we do our best to produce high-quality books of interest to readers in our chosen fields—nature, marine life, environment, and conservation—but in today’s market, that might not be enough.
So, in July 2010 we created a bold new world, one that we hoped would do five things:
• introduce Ocean Publishing to audiences beyond book readers
• educate people about important conservation subjects
• produce additional income and create new markets
• garner media attention
• allow us to have more fun
We started our journey by creating an art gallery in our offices, planning art shows in each quarter of the year, and bringing in talented artists who agreed to produce gorgeous paintings of marine life. Our by-invitation-only opening receptions quickly made our gallery a place to be, and to be seen.
Granted, where we are is not Hollywood, but attention is attention, and we were getting lots of it. On top of that, we sold original art, giclées (high-quality ink-jet prints), and, of course, our featured books (and others), which were on display in the retail store we had opened a year before.
The journey expanded into what we call “Ocean Fusion,” the blending of informative talks, art, and film. Because we want to attract a large and diverse audience, we offer a lot in these events. While there is always a central theme—in this case, sea turtles—the content is available in a variety of ways: through presentations, art shows, and movies.
To attract all targeted audiences, we designed the very full flyer you see here. It might even be too full, but we wanted to tell a story with as much detail as possible. For a special event of this sort, it is critical to have a flyer that answers all the questions a reader might have and that will serve as a reference as the time of the event approaches.
It is amazing how often people will keep an attractive flyer around, even after the event it describes. And when they do keep a flyer, it continues to serve as a reminder of your company.
You will want to brand your flyer with your business name right at the top in large type. Get your URL right up there too, because you want people to go to your Web site. Often. Maybe even to buy stuff.
The special event title has to be front and center in still larger and grabbier type, to attract readers’ attention. Of course, it’s important also to include pertinent facts about the event, such as dates, times, and so forth, all in smaller type.
Present the ingredients of the event clearly to maximize reader interest. These key items are what you should use to hook people. Mention aspects of the subject, credentials of the authors and artists, and anything else that tells readers why they really need to get to this event and give it priority over the 10 other things demanding their presence at that time.
Partnering with related businesses helps us make our events successful. For this one, we teamed up with Cinematique of Daytona, a wonderful theater that shows foreign and independent films. The partnership adds to the event’s credibility and brings some of the partner’s customers to it. And as your partner becomes familiar with your business, its customers may become your customers. Plus, your customers may become customers for what the partner has to offer. A classic win-win.
Our particular kind of event has become so successful that we are planning a couple of new ones to keep the energy level high and to reach even broader audiences. One of our next Ocean Fusion specials will feature the popular “eco-duo” Saltwater Cowgirls, who will perform their original songs about nature, whales, turtles, and such. We believe it will attract an entirely new audience of music fans to Ocean Publishing while providing entertainment, information, and fun that will result in expanded sales of our books and art.
While you might not venture into the types of special events we enjoy, I suggest that you look at your community to see what might work for you. Is there a promising partner? Do you have a venue that would work well? What else do you have—and need—for a special event that would serve your purposes?
Turtle Day and Other Promising Starting Points
Maybe you could even do something on the spur of the moment. With only one day’s notice to all local businesses and to people we could reach via phone and email, we once held an impromptu party in our retail store to celebrate World Sea Turtle Day. We had Jimmy Buffett on the CD player, drinks and refreshments, and plenty of signage out front. Net result? Over $500 in book sales in two hours. And people–including some who had never been in our store until that day—had a great time.
So, think about it. Is doing a nontraditional special event right for your business? Why not give it a try? If you plan it right, keep your costs low, invite enough people, and give them a great time, you just might find a new tool for succeeding in today’s economy. And have fun at the same time.
Frank Gromling is the founder and publisher at Ocean Publishing, a traditional publishing house that has found success by building a niche business and taking every opportunity to attract audiences across all demographics. He is currently publishing a four-book series with international ocean protector Jean-Michel Cousteau. To learn more: oceanpublishing.org or HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com.
Anatomy of a Special Event Flyer