A Guide To A Successful Concert
TOOLS FOR SUCCESSFUL CONCERT PROMOTION
If you are hosting a concert, the key to success is to promote, promote, promote. Utilizing every available method of communication to get the word out will ensure that your concert is well-publicized and that you have the largest crowd possible.
When you are promoting a concert, you may have months to plan or you may have weeks or days. Depending on the situation, you can still find a plan to promote your concert effectively, using multiple methods to insure that you have reached the largest number of people with your message.
Advertising on radio is a MUST, especially if you have Christian radio available. Work with the station to put together an ad package that is the most effective for your audience and within your budget. Make sure you DO allow money for a good radio commercial package at least 3-4 weeks prior to your event, even more weeks in advance if you’re event is ticketed. Make sure your ad includes date, time, location, address, ticket information or love offering, and a phone number and/or web address for more information.
It is important to note that some dates are pass through dates, and you may not have a lot of time to promote. The time frames spoken of throughout these tips may not be realistic for you. Promote anyway, even if it’s just a few days or a week. Get the word out as soon as you can, as often as you can, the best ways you can.
Radio is one form of advertisement you cannot afford to forego. People may not always go to their email or read the newspaper or check Facebook regularly. But in their car, listening to the radio, they’re a captive audience to the advertisement the radio broadcasts. Many listeners are loyal to a station, especially gospel stations. Take advantage of this and advertise on radio.
Even if you pick up a concert date on short notice, having even just two or three days of radio coverage will make a big difference in your crowd attendance.
Many radio stations offer “Community Bulletin Board” or “Church and Concert Update” announcements and spots for FREE. Take advantage of these! These spots air frequently and are often something a listener will pay special attention to.
BE SURE that the information you provide to the station is complete! This sounds obvious, but many times stations have incomplete information and didn’t have the answers to questions people are asking.
- - the name of the artist(s) performing
- - the name of the church or other venue
- - concert start time as well as what time doors will be opening
- - admission information (i.e. ticket prices, whether a love offering or donation is requested, etc)
- all other relevant contact info for the event
Ask about some live mentions—they go a LONG way! If the DJ is mentioning the event often, it keeps it in front of people. Several weeks ahead of time, if a concert is mentioned once per show, it gets people interested. The week of the concert especially, if it can be mentioned once or twice per hour, the results can be tremendous.
If you have an advertising budget and can afford it, purchase commercial airtime on the stations. While community bulletin board can be (and are) very effective, a purchased 30 or 60 second spot will often be more attention-getting and air more often. Many stations offer very reasonable advertising packages for such events. Take advantage of this!
Finally, make sure that if you promote events often (or even just once a year or so), you establish a good relationship with the station. Helping you promote often helps give them exposure as well. It is a win-win-win for the promoters, the stations, and the artists. It will go a long way to help you get your event on the air, especially on short notice!
Many stations love to be a “co-sponsor” of events and will exchange advertising time for the opportunity to set up a table in the lobby or have a few minutes of stage time to greet your audience and tell them about their station. Again, everybody wins!
This is a great, inexpensive way to get the word out about your concert. Most everyone has email these days. It’s merely a matter of sending out a short letter, copy of a poster, or a brief notice about the concert–AND ask your friends to forward it to THEIR friends, which will reach more and different people. It’s the "ripple effect" and it works. You can send 2-3 mail outs at various times before your event–even also the day of the event as a reminder. A good rule is three weeks prior, then again two weeks and the week of.
This is one of the very best ways to advertise your concert, because, like e-mail, it’s free! And it reaches a lot of folks. You can post a photo of the group, list all the details, and tag pertinent people on your friends list and reach an enormous audience. This has become the fastest-growing way to inform people about events in recent years, and you can promote multiple times, including each day and up to the day of and even a few hours before the event. Also, most every group has their own Facebook page. Work with the group to promote your event at least two-three weeks prior to the event date. You can also, for a small fee, do what is called a “sponsor” of your post that will reach many more people.
There is still merit in good old-fashioned posters. Select the highest-traffic areas to place them. Ask permission first–always! Grocery stores, restaurants, discount and department stores, gas stations, convenient stores, and Christian bookstores are the best places to start. Post 3-4 weeks prior to the event, if possible. If you don’t have that much time before the event, still put them out there. People will see them and come out to your event because of them.
POSTCARDS AND MAIL-OUTS
If you have the budget and mailing list or contacts, a postcard mail-out or flier mail-out is also a great way to promote your event. This can be done 6-8 weeks prior to the actual date, particularly if your event is a ticketed concert, so people can plan accordingly, ask friends, arrange baby-sitters, get a church group or group of friends together, etc. Also, if the group you’re hosting has a mailing list, ask them to work with you in making sure all their fans get notified that they’re coming to your area.
It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many artist pull up to a church or concert hall with a huge sign or marquee, only to find that their name is not on it. What a wasted free opportunity to promote your event! Make sure that you list your concert on any sign, church or building marquee, or billboard available. If possible, renting a portable sign or use of billboard for your event may also pay off. If you sign a contract for a building you’re renting for the evening, make sure sign usage is a part of that agreement and get it in writing.
Advertising in the local paper is another great way to get the word out. People do still read the paper, or they wouldn’t be still printing them. Newspapers are also accessed on line at an astounding rate. Advertise at least two weeks before if possible, and if you can work out a two-week run, that would be even better. People won’t attend what they don’t know is occurring. Many times if you purchase an ad in a local paper, they will also run a story free of charge, so make sure you submit a short essay-type article and photo with your ad. You can compose a story using the group’s bio, press materials, photos, etc. Many newspapers have special free space for church and religious events. Take advantage of their generosity!
OTHER ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES
You can also invest in other opportunities to promote your event, such as advertising in Singing News Magazine and website, Gospel Gigs, or Gospel Gab, other forms of social media, or your local cable or TV station.
ODDS and ENDS
Perception is everything. If you are having a concert and a love offering will be received, state it as such. Love offering "received" sounds so much better than love offering "taken." It’s all about perception.
Likewise, have greeters at the door to welcome visitors and attendees. This is your church’s chance to shine. You may be welcoming your next church members just by being friendly.
If you have ongoing events at your church, particularly concerts, and you know that you have some scheduled in the future, make a small handout to give to attendees so they will have advanced notice of your future events. Do not let a captive crowd leave your building without knowing what future concerts you are going to be having. Announce these events at the beginning, middle, and/or end of your concert from the stage, too.
Does your church have screens? USE THEM! Before the concert, announce your event before church services on the computer screen. At the concert, promote your church’s events and those events in the future. If you have two concerts booked in the next six months, put the group’s photos and dates of the events on the screen. Folks are just sitting there waiting for church or your concert to start. Give them useful information they can take with them, so they will know to come back the next time you promote.
If you have regular concerts, you need a regular contact list, whether you call, mail, or email folks. If you don’t have a contact list, start one. It could be a sheet of paper with name, address, phone, and email on it. But if the crowd is asked, they will provide this information, and you can contact them about future concerts.
Have staff ready to assist concert attendees with things like directions to the restrooms, help in finding seating, and extra seats, if needed. Do not put out extra chairs until you see they are needed. Why? Because if the chairs are not filled, it looks like you didn’t plan and prepare effectively, you over-expected and under-promoted, and, again, it’s a perception and image thing. But, if the venue starts filling up and then your staff is ready to assist with extra chairs in an efficient and orderly manner, the crowd will be a buzz with excitement, and will go off saying, "They had such a great crowd, they had to set out extra chairs!" You want them talking about a GOOD problem and not a BAD one.
Hopefully, these things will help you have a successful concert promotion on any level–the ticketed event or the church concert.
If you cannot utilize every method above because of budget or time constraints, use the ones that are best suited to your advantage. If you have a great radio station within 30-60 minutes of your venue, this has to be a must in promoting at whatever stage you’re in. But if you don’t, you may choose to invest in more posters and local newspaper ads. If you need help in planning a promotion plan, contact the group your hosting, their booking agency, or someone you know who has hosted a concert before. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When one person is successful in a concert promotion for the glory of God, WE ALL WIN!