So you’ve planned your awesome food and drinks event. Congrats on getting this thing off the table! You are now in blueprint mode. But how do you get from plan to party?
That’s exactly what we discuss here: The sizzling tips you need to draw those guests to your platters. We’re all for nights in, but there is a reason event organisers don’t put, “Made chilli dogs and watched The Dark Knight alone in my basement” on their resumes.
If they want to succeed, event organisers have to draw those crowds.
For some, a good crowd equals a handful of friends, peers, neighbours, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that! We’ll be going over event promotion for a wide range of dazzling dinners, luscious lunches, and bountiful breakfasts.
Whether you are feeding the London Philharmonic or a small group of local string students, our guide can help. We’ll be covering:
- Physical and social media ads
- Connecting with the right advertisers
- Ticket sales (if applicable)
- Vendor cooperation
Even seasoned food event promoters might learn a thing or two by reading below. (Get it? “Seasoned”? Maybe we should drop comedy and stick to event guides. Oh, well.)
Let’s get started!
Food and drinks event promotion: Getting the word out
To begin, there are different mediums for drawing event-goers to your culinary extravaganza. Let’s talk a little about the modern marketer’s main methods: Physical and digital (social media).
Ah, the old-fashioned method. This advertising was your grandfather’s only option. However, that doesn’t make it irrelevant. The real world is still chock-full of people going about their business.
That being the case, physical advertising still has a place in the world of promoting food and drinks events. In fact, one study suggests that physical ads are more memorable than their digital cousins.
The golden oldies aren’t done yet!
Hunger can strike at any time. Above all, you have to capture interest with posters and flyers featuring strong images of tasty food. Make those ticket buyers’ stomachs rumble with bold, colourful pics of savoury chips, refreshing beverages, and anything else that might call to a stranger’s lonely gut.
Tip: Take a look at this awesome guide to taking gorgeous pictures of yummy grub.
It is crucial that your posters and flyers contain necessary info for attendees. If they can’t find your event, they can’t attend—and good luck getting a positive review from the foodie who couldn’t find your food!
On your physical ads, you should include:
- Name of the event
- Event date
- Time at which the event will take place
- Event location (with directions or a link to directions)
- Social media info
Additionally, you may want to include:
- Sponsor/vendor info
- Ticket purchase options
- Advance sales
- At-the-door sales
- Ticket outlets
Phew! All of this can look like a tall order. While it’s important to include these details, you must be sure the ad is not overwhelming.
Importantly, don’t skimp on the “should include” list above. These points give viewers the core information they need: What the event is, where and when it takes place, and where to learn more. (Facebook, Instagram, and so on.)
Moreover, combine these points with some drool-worthy images of food and drinks to cook up the perfect physical ad.
Tip: We like this list-guide to designing cool and effective posters for snagging attention.
The sweet spots
Next, you will need to find just the right locations to place your physical ads. Surprise, surprise—since you are promoting a food and drinks event, the best places will be food-oriented.
Some wise folks will warn you not to shop for food when you’re hungry. This is good advice. However, as a marketer or promoter, you’ll want to capitalise on just that: Placing your ads where hungry people go.
Consider some of these location types:
- Near restaurants (If you can manage to get your ad inside the restaurant waiting area, kudos to you.)
- In or around grocery stores
- Around farmer’s markets
- At bus stops and stations.
- Travellers may have long, hungry travel times. During these, an exciting poster or flyer can ease boredom. Ideally, they can lead a hungry commuter to investigate your event.
- Other events
- If you can get your ads up within another food and drinks event, you know for sure you are appealing to the right audience.
- Near or inside culinary schools
- …any relevant operation that is likely to be full of hungry people or foodies. Get creative!
Tip: This page has a solid list of general places to place posters and flyers.
While flyers can be positioned in all sorts of places, there is one thing to avoid: Don’t fly-tip!
Handing out flyers is a surefire way to see the streets littered with loose paper. For that matter, it can be a tad invasive. You have to stop people and give them your ad.
Trust us on this one: Most people are not going to get amped up for your event if they discover it on a dirty, crumpled ad. After wrinkling in the street for a week, those food images will look less than digestible.
Another thing to be wary of: Flyers in the letterbox. Not everyone appreciates strangers inserting items into their personal property. Depending on where you live, it could even land you in a bit of legal trouble.
You may want to stick with telephone poles and display boards.
Social media advertising
Today, social media ads are the real deal. It only takes seconds to click on an ad or a Facebook page. Compare this to standing around and squinting at a flyer. Not everyone likes to stop and smell the roses, know what we mean?
Get net-savvy and reel in foodies using our tips for social media ads below.
Know your network
Basically, this is just demographic hunting. You’ll need to know where to hit your main event-goer targets. Which networks do they frequent on social media?
There are a ton of options for social media advertising. Consider some of the following:
- Tweeting about your food and drinks event
- Posting your event details to a Facebook group or creating your own
- Building Facebook ads
- This is actually really easy to do if you have an account with access to Facebook Ads Manager. You can monitor ad reach, clickthrough, and more.
- Advertising through an Instagram group
- For food and drinks events aimed at younger audiences (college, teen), Instagram is about as hot as it gets.
- Posting to a subreddit for foodies and other digestion enthusiasts:
- Any subreddit dedicated to your city or surrounding area
- Try entering: www.reddit.com/r/[your city here] (e.g. https://www.reddit.com/r/glasgow)
- Uploading images of tasty food to Pinterest (and linking to your main page with event details)
As you create page content for your food fest, make sure you interlink all of your social media pages. On Instagram, link your event page to your Facebook page and vice versa.
Using social networking sites and apps, it’s pretty easy to search for the style or “genre” of food you’ll be serving. For example, if there will be a solid selection of flavourful wines and craft beers, well, you know where to look.
Sometimes you’ll need permission to enter groups like these, so don’t hesitate to ask! But always make sure that event advertising is not against any group rules. Reddit, in particular, can be a little touchy about what sort of posts it allows.
The same rules for imagery apply to social media promotion. Just in case you missed it, the images should be delicious-looking and eye-catching. However, posting the same images over and over may end up backfiring. In fact, people can quickly tire of seeing different ads for the same event.
Make sure you are paying attention to the timing of your posts. This includes promoting your event:
- At the right frequency
- At the right time
- On the right sites
- At the right time for the right sites!
Yep, there are statistically better times to promote an event online, and it depends on which platform you are posting to.
Also, when it comes to promoting food and drinks events, consider common mealtimes. Get ‘em while they’re hungry!
You will also want to think about your posting ratio. For example, what is your ideal ratio of food-image posts vs. buy-a-ticket posts? You’ll want to find a good balance, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer. You’ll have to use your best judgement.
Hashing things out
Whether you like it or not, hashtags are all the rage across social media. One of the best ways to promote your event is to search for relevant hashtags. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar–it’s a pretty simple process. You’ll want to include good hashtags along with posts that promote your event.
Hashtags began on Twitter as a way to index keywords. Of course, lots of sites and platforms now use them to connect people with their favourite content. You will definitely not be at a loss for food-related hashtags. Here are just a few of the more popular ones:
- #food (We know–shocking!)
- #foodporn (Safe for work, we promise. Just images of beautiful food.)
Using one of these will include you in the results of everyone who clicks on that hashtag. It doesn’t guarantee that people will see your food and drink promotions, but it doesn’t hurt.
And it has a solid chance of helping. Just don’t use more than a few different hashtags, or you might look “spammy.” Or worse, hashtag-deranged! (We just made up that last bit, but do take it easy on the hashtags.)
Tip: Take a look at this general guide to smart hashtag usage.
Align the stars
The internet has totally changed the fame game. As a result, celebrity is not limited to actors and politicians anymore. Plenty of social media stars have become renowned for all kinds of things–including eating.
Obviously, this is good news for food and drinks event promoters. You can reach out to public figures online to spread your message. This way, you instantly reach a large audience.
Many internet celebs have large fan bases of trusting followers. Their fans may take it seriously if your celebrity contact endorses the upcoming food and drinks event. But while a famous A-lister may be your first thought, they can ask for a much higher fee.
Thus, it might be in your best interest to go with a more affordable niche figure in the foodie world. Someone who is known for evaluating the sorts of food you’ll be providing, if possible. A craft beer connoisseur or a sandwich guru, perhaps. In fact, a social media foodie starlet might just look into your event for free! (Provided they have behind-the-scenes access, of course.)
This can be a win-win though. They get to experience what you’ll offer, and you get them to promote it all to a fan base. A particularly sweet deal.
Tip: Here is an insightful list of some highly influential foodie stars on the internet. Try not to get hungry when you look at those pics. Of the food, not the social media stars.
Wish you were here!
One of the options you have as an online promoter is day-of updates during the event. This won’t do much for folks who missed out on their tickets, but hungry and regretful viewers may just keep you in mind for their next food adventure.
Basically, keep a running image journal of fun, food, and friends enjoying your event. All in the name of tasty treats. As always, quality images of the provided food are a must-have.
Let’s look at some of the important things to remember as you sell your tickets. Certainly, food and drinks event promotion isn’t as simple as sell tickets, make money. (But we wouldn’t complain if it were.)
Selling in advance
Sometimes, event managers and planners sell their tickets at the door only. Sure, this is a simpler way to do things. But it runs some pretty serious risks, including a lack of insight.
If you don’t sell tickets beforehand, you don’t know how many people will show up. Then you have to reckon with:
- Potential event-goers making their minds up on the day of, according to the whims of their stomachs.
- Other events vying for your time slot (and getting event-goers on board for their shindigs in advance)
- Forecasting food supplies, which is not something you want to mess around with. Food spoils, so it often represents a limited-window investment.
- No advance revenue, which means less to invest in marketing, vendors, and suppliers.
There are a ton of platforms out there designed to resolve just these issues. Tickets can be advertised and sold in advance through groups like Billetto, Eventbrite, and plenty of others. In short, these are vital resources in the world of event promotion.
Tip: This is one very specific promotional site we like. It is aimed at food festivals, so if that’s what you’re planning, you can try to get listed there.
Selling tickets to groups delivers a better return on investment than selling individual tickets. This is true for most events, but group attendance is especially important for food and drinks events.
Have you ever felt slightly sad for someone eating their lunch all alone in a restaurant? Certain eating rituals are naturally social. Which is kind of weird, since you can’t talk with your mouth full. But groups will likely have a better time at your food and drinks event than solo attendees.
To that end, you can price your tickets to reward group purchases. As a result, event-goers will rope their friends into foodie adventures. And this means more revenue for you. Group attendance also means fun pictures on social media and free advertising for your future events. Where’s the downside?
Tip: For specific ideas, here is a guide to selling tickets to groups.
Working with your vendors
If your food and drinks event will feature some vendors, they may have their own social media followings. Don’t neglect to use them!
You can ask vendors to advertise for you and automatically reach that vendor’s fans: The perfect demographic. Not all vendors are advertising masters, so you may want to provide them with some creative options like:
- Pre-written tweets and Facebook updates
- Professional food images (of their food or the same kind they sell)
- Posters and flyers
- Email templates
Additionally, you can incentivise vendors to advertise by offering benefits. Whoever sells the most tickets can be rewarded with a discounted stand or similar.
Room for dessert?
That’s a wrap, readers.
If you have anything to add to our delectable guide, comment below with other suggestions and tips for promoting a food and drinks event. Bon appetit!