When P.T. Barnum, “the patron saint of promoters,” wanted to market an event, he didn’t sell tickets—he sold an once-in-a-lifetime experience you couldn’t afford to miss, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Pioneering strategies for attracting the masses made Barnum the foremost name in event promotion; commercial success made him legendary. Creativity, tenacity, and a knack for knowing what makes your audience tick are the staples of a successful event promoter.
The event promoter’s job is to generate buzz for everything from concerts to monster truck rallies, and get people in the door. Promoters develop strategic marketing plans to cover all available avenues of advertising in advance of the event. Budgets can vary greatly depending on whether you are working for U2 or a small local charity, but despite constraints, the event promoter has to use every imaginative trick in the arsenal to reach audiences through radio, television, print, and the Internet. He or she will also work closely with the event producers, ticket-sellers, and local vendors to ensure the highest possible profitability. Often an independent promoter’s fee is directly tied to ticket sales. Larger promotion firms will negotiate minimums based on the size of the event and promo budget.
In a large market with a sizable budget, the promoter can work with a production house to create radio and television commercials and buy ad time. In smaller areas or for low-budget shows, the promoter might employ social networking or recruit street teams to blanket the town with posters and generate word-of-mouth interest. The event promoter must understand the demographic he or she is trying to reach and the most appropriate forum to get the word out. Decisions on where and how to advertise have a significant impact on ticket sales; plugging Rob Zombie on hip-hop radio doesn’t do much good.
Skills & Education
If you want to break out on your own as an independent event promoter, you will not need a degree on your résumé. However, a strong educational background in marketing, advertising, public relations, entertainment business, or production will be expected to work in a larger promotion company, and preferred by high-end clients. You cannot overestimate the value of a firm grasp of demographic analysis in this career field. Excellent organizational, networking, communication, and people skills can make or break you. Most of all, you must be creative, aggressive, and have your finger on the pulse of your audience.
What to Expect
For most who enter, the event promotion field is not a long-term occupation, but some get addicted to the make-or-break adrenaline high. Careers rise and fall quickly on one big hit or serious miss. Remember that you are selling yourself each time you promote an event, so this is not a job for the timid; it requires taking constant risks. Careers in public relations, sales, advertising, and media buying are good transitions in and out of work as an event promoter.
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