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03 October 2008 @ 01:47 pm
 
Hmmm. Maybe someone out there will have some good suggestions.

A friend of mine has, in partnership with another woman, sponsored a local event this Halloween, the Albany Masquerade, a Masquerade Ball at a local venue that will include live music, etc, with proceeds to benefit SMART - a literacy program here in Oregon designed to help kids better learn reading in schools.

The problem is, if they don't start selling some tickets, they won't even be able to cover the cost of the event, much less actually donate something to SMART. They are on an extremely tight budget, but they have done some things for promotion, including dressing up and handing out flyers to local businesses, putting an ad on Craigslist, the website, the local radio station is chatting about it and giving away a couple of tickets - but so far, only ten people have actually purchased tickets. And of those ten - me, my sister, our husbands, my friend L's sister and her boyfriend, her Mom - that leaves, what, three tickets that are not in some way directly linked to L? She is starting to panic and think that she's going to lose a lot of money on this, not to mention have no one show up. Any ideas on how to better get the word out? Tickets are $20, and this doesn't seem like too much when people can write it off on their taxes. They need to sell something like 140 more. Surely there are 140 adults in the area willing to dress up on Halloween and go out and have fun with a bunch of other adults. We just need to find them.
 
 
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almost entirely sexy: movie: nevending story OWNZ JOO.shadesofbrixton on October 3rd, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
My initial thought is - costume contest with a prize! Preferably a prize DONATED by some company, otherwise that's going to add to your overhead. But people are totally willing to come out for some costume contest action - it's weird, if you get them competitive, they're always happy to help.

For the prize, talk to your local bookstores - I think we usually turned most people away at Borders and told them to call our corporate office, but there's also been a big outreach from the larger corporations to do community things lately, and that would probably help. If anything, assuming you HAVE a Borders, call their CAFE, not the bookstore, and talk to the cafe supervisor. We used to put together massive gift baskets of our coffees and chocolates and stuff for charity.

As for the advertising - are they putting up flyers in actual literary locations? Libraries, bookstores, etc? Possibly going around to poetry slams and local college creative writing/english classes to talk up the event? Offering a slight discount if a couple buys two tickets instead of one - say $35 instead of $40? If there's a local free newspaper, get them to do a talk piece on the event. In fact, if there's a local MAJOR newspaper, call them up and see if anyone's currently doing an article on child literacy, and tell them you've got a not for profit event that they could do a sidebar on. Remind me what city you're located in, and I might be able to come up with some more. Shall continue to brainstorm, as this is far more interesting than doing real work.

Ooh, is this event on/for halloween? I mean, it must be, really. You could go to halloween costume places and chat the event up there, as well, for people who are looking for more halloween things to do. Maybe a facebook/myspace brigade? I know the budget is small, but it sounds like what you guys need is more TIME to devote to the promotions themselves.
rhienellethrhienelleth on October 3rd, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Things are not helped by the fact that the group of people who originally promised to help and expressed sooooooooo much interest have pretty much bailed on my friend and her partner, leaving them to do all the legwork, when both of them work full time, and my friend L is buried making costumes for this event when she is not working. In fact, not ONE of these previously enthusiastic people who wanted to do so much to help this happen has even purchased a ticket yet! My friend is mystified as to what they all thought would happen - that maybe they could just sit back and the masquerade would put on itself?

Oh, calling Borders is an EXCELLENT idea! I know they are having a costume contest, and they talked about getting someone to donate a prize basket, but I'm not sure if the prize basket has happened yet. I'll have to ask. They have put up flyers at the local Halloween stores, and ironically enough, they both work for the local newspaper, which MAY be giving them a full page in the Entertainer insert, but I'm not 100% positive. The paper is not doing so well, money-wise this year, and so their budget for doing freebies has really tightened. They tried contacting the local college paper, but couldn't get anyone to return their phone calls.

The masquerade will be in Albany, about an hour and a half south of Portland, and approximately ten minutes from Corvallis, the local college town (OSU), and forty-five minutes from Eugene, the other university town (UofO). Corvallis has a Borders, and perhaps I will give their cafe a call!

Perhaps putting flyers up at the local schools would be good, too. Community college and university. Sounds like a possible weekend project for me.
indieindiefic on October 3rd, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
I'd pimp it on gothfash or SeaGoth (though I'm not having great luck finding that site right now). Given that it's Halloween and a Masquerade, I'd think the goth community would be pretty into it. And since SeaGoth is sort of the goth mecca for the Pacific NW, I'd imagine some people in your area might be active there.
"Connoisseurs of Difficulty": Big Daddy - Little Sisterkistha on October 3rd, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
Gamer geek hangouts, any RPG'ers you know, look up your local Camarilla chapter (if you dare!) or the local SCA or equivalents. Those people who run the Ren-Fair. Contacts from the Pirate Festival...
L.A.frenchroast on October 3rd, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
You need to get local businesses (clothing stores, restaurants, banks, cafes, hospitals, doctor's offices, country clubs, gyms, etc.) in on this. Instead of going door-to-door in costume, which is time consuming and potentially disorienting for people not expecting it, call them up. Tell them you're holding a masquerade ball fundraiser for SMART and you were wondering how many tickets they'd like to reserve for their employees, and if they'd like to make any donations. Don't forget schools--teachers like to dress up for Halloween, too. Heck, hit up assisted living retirement communities if you've got them; I'm sure old people like Halloween just as much as the rest of us.

DEFINITELY put flyers up and around those university campuses. If there's a theatre department, make sure you hit it with flyers.

It might also help to call up SMART and see what suggestions they might have; perhaps SMART has some of the networking already in place that you'd need to get the word out about this, especially if they're going to get the money.

The other problem you might be having is that if those adults have small children, they might not be able to find babysitters on Halloween night, since presumably the teenagers they'd hire to do it will be out at parties of their own. So that could be a contributing factor to the lack of ticket purchases. I don't know how feasible it is, but if there was some way they could have a safe place to leave their kids (and you talked it up), I bet you'd get more tickets sold.

Also, as you talk up the event, emphasize that volunteers are more than welcome to help make the event a success. You'll pick up a couple of people, I'm sure, and that will take some of the heat off your friend.
lizardbeth: Derek with gunlizardbeth_j on October 4th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
I don't know how feasible it is when it's already Oct, but perhaps partner with another charitable organization? Or something like a PTA/School support type group? They could provide volunteers and an organization that could reach more widely in exchange for a portion of the proceeds?

And I agree that bookstores seem like a really good place to put up flyers/signs. Perhaps if you can, set up a table for a few hours to sell tickets inside/in front of the biggest traffic bookstore in town? Seems to me that unless you have a good mechanism to take people's money in advance, seems to me you'll probably have the general public show up at the door, so the issue is getting the word out so they remember to come.
J.K.Richárdneutronjockey on October 4th, 2008 08:21 am (UTC)
Libraries.
High school and college English depts.
College and Univesity Lit/Writers clubs.
Other Oregon Lit/Writers clubs (online presence, email).
Treat promotion like a full-time job up until the day of the event...