Reflections of life in Spain

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I was asked to take a look at some promotional plans for a new event planned to showcase an area and its businesses, and hopefully attract new people along to experience the area. It was something that I was more than happy to do, but confess I approached the task with more than an element of trepidation at what I expected to find.

The plan did not disappoint. The launch and supporting material were excellent, the pre launch promotion a mix of the same old tried and tested methods, the post event follow up plan …… well let’s be polite and say it didn’t exist. It was a plan I had seen many times before, both in the UK and more recently here in Spain. Nothing wrong with it per se, it followed a standard formulae, ticked all the right boxes, but still felt that it had something missing.

It seemed a case of scraping the barrel: the same old participants, people, processes and promotions. IMy analogy was expressed more in sympathy than in criticism, as at isn’t possible to magic up more people, or put more money into existing people’s pockets.

It was tempting to leave it at that, after all there was nothing wrong with what was in the plan at all, and I am sure the event will be a reasonable success, that everyone will have a good time, and lessons will be learnt for next time etc but at the end of the day I couldn’t leave it like that. What was bugging me wasn’t what was in the plan, but what wasn’t.

There is that horrible phrase in the land of corporate speak called ‘think outside of the box’; well in this case I suggest that when planning people ‘think outside of the area’. It is all very well saying that one aim of the event is to attract people to the area, but it does help if the advertising plans include media from outside of that area. In additional there are some important consdirations. How are people going to get to the event? Anything that involves alcohol, which basically means any event ever in Spain, automatically has restrictions on how far people will travel, so how about doing something to reward the designated driver? Maybe they get entrance to the event free or their details entered into a draw to win a prize as example ideas.

People are creatures of habit, so for those living local to the event what can you do to ensure they visit new participants, try new venues, frequent different types of establishment? Shuttle buses to take people around the different establishments, themed nights to reward creativity, prizes for those that traveled the furthest etc.

By far the biggest omissions though were time, continuity and follow up! There is only so much people can do in a week, a fortnight, even a month if it requires going out and spending money. I was recently a judge in a local Tapas Week; it was a great success, but I am sure that if it had run over a month, only at weekends, it would have attracted more people. How many people have the time and money to go out mid week? A couple of tapas on a Friday and Saturday night is normal, so the decision really would have been where to go, not when and where to go. As for continuity I can never understand why people plan only one event at a time! Why not set out with the bold statement that it will be a annual, bi-annual or quarterly event? Set your stall out to get people thinking, that if they can’t make it this time then there will be another opportunity.

And finally, the omission that really baffles me ……. the lack of a follow up plan! How are you going to measure how many people came from outside the area to the event? How are you going to keep in touch with them to let them know about future events? How are you going to know how many people came into the area specifically as a result of the event?

As I said, if the event goes ahead, and I hope it will, I am sure that it will be deemed a success: it will have been well planed, the locals will all have got behind it, everyone will have had a great time, many ‘pats on backs’ will deservedly ensue but ………. will it in all honesty have achieved what it really set out to achieve. Time, I guess will tell …………… I hope it does, I suspect it will fall a little shy.

By Chris Marshall

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