This year, we’re all saying adios to traditional event marketing. No more event booths, community festivals or neighborhood fun runs. But that doesn’t mean event marketing cannot or should not happen.

 

Here are seven ways to shift your community marketing events to fit a COVID-19 world.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #1: Pay it forward

 

Community events are expensive, and often take up a good chunk of a marketing budget. Don’t scrap that budget item entirely. Instead, take the funds you would have spent on a massive community event and pay it forward. For example, partner with a local coffee shop and put a certain amount toward paying for customers’ coffee, like this Florida credit union did.

 

Tip: Make sure the employees at the local business know exactly what to say to promote your credit union or community bank. Give them coasters or cup sleeves with info on how the consumer can do business with you. Even better, offer an incentive for loan refinancing.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #2: Take the event virtual

 

No, people aren’t likely to log into a live virtual event. They’re screened out (and so are you). But, if you let them participate in the event on their own time—with some tangible incentives—your participation rates may even be higher than normal.

 

Tip: Give everyone a set time window, like one week, to complete the event. Ideas for winning virtual events include a virtual race, virtual scavenger hunt or virtual campout.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #3: Capitalize on staff talent

 

What buzz-worthy skills or hobbies do your team members have? Have they done anything in their past lives that would be useful for community engagement? For example, maybe someone was a teacher before joining your staff. Get them in front of a camera to teach parents how to teach their kids at home.

 

Tip: Involve team members from the top to the bottom of your organization. This gives your credit union or community bank personality and reminds consumers you’re human too.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #4. Create at-home fall festival kits

 

Put all the favorites of a Fall festival into a box people can purchase for a donation to a local charity. Partner with local companies for extra exposure and a more cost-effective initiative.

 

Tip: Include items for the whole family. Face paint, mini pumpkins to decorate, apple cider, local jam and baked goods are all good things to include.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #5: Utilize local “celebrities”

 

No matter how big or small your town is, there is no doubt a host of local celebrities. Have one of these beloved hometown heroes take over your Instagram or Facebook page with live cooking demos (could be hilarious), reading a book to kiddos or teaching a life skill.

 

Tip: Make the social media event short, weekly and predictable. No more than 30 minutes, and always on the same day of the week.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #6: Team Up with Local Partners

 

What other organizations in your community can you team up with to unite people around a common goal? Maybe friendly competitors you could work with to build a bite-sized virtual financial literacy program?

 

Tip: Don’t partner with just any organization. Your community partners must match your brand vision and strategic goals.

 

2020 Event Marketing Idea #7: Focus on target markets more than traditional events

 

Simply recreating your traditional community marketing events virtually isn’t going to work. It will feel forced and people won’t engage. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of your target consumer. What do they need right now? What do they want? Give them those things in a fun, out-of-the-box way.

 

Tip: Never just give without getting something in return. Even just collecting email addresses gives you a window to follow up with people after a community event.

 

Your 2020 marketing plan is in the trash, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop all marketing. Community marketing events are still possible, and—if done correctly—could be better than ever.

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