9 Ways to Market an Event in a Small Town

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Branding is so much more than logos. Every time a customer interacts with your business, they interact with your brand. This is true online and in print, but it’s also true in person—all the way down to the details of your events and how you get the word out.

When planning an event, you need to brand it just like you would your business. Give your customer a glimpse of what will happen, why they should go and what they’ll miss if they don’t.

The good news? Marketing an event doesn’t have to be scary. This nine-step process will help you think through all the details of getting the word out.

Every month, the Purveyor House team uses this process to coordinate Bakersfield Second Saturday, encouraging residents to spend the day on the town getting to know our amazing local businesses. We use social media to spread the word and create FOMO (Fear of Missing Out (in case you need that tip)) to make sure people know what they’ll miss out on if they don’t come.

In August, we used these ideas to promote our Be in Bakersfield event and sold out in one week—much to the disappointment of those who wanted to buy a ticket at the last minute.

So what’s the secret? How do you market an event, especially in [what feels like] a small-ish town like Bakersfield?

1. Define the goals of the event + how they impact your brand.

Before you can tell others why they should come to your event, you need to make sure you and your team understand why you want them there. Sit down and answer a few questions: What is this event about? How does it support your brand? Why should people come? Who are you hoping shows up?

2. Set a schedule + plan in advance.

In a small-ish town like Bakersfield, people often don’t come to events because they don’t know about them early enough. Make sure you share early and often. Share in unique ways. Let your community know about the event with plenty of time to get it on their schedule.

3. Design custom graphics.

All the visual elements of your event and event marketing should be consistent with your brand. Hire a designer or use a site like Canva. Make several different options so you aren’t sharing the same graphic over and over again. Have fun with it!

4. Show up in the same places as your target demographic.

Once you’ve defined who you are trying to reach with your event, think about the best ways to get the word to them. Post fliers in local hangouts, create an Instagram or Facebook campaign or, if your demographic is older, take out a newspaper ad. Knowing who you’re talking to will help you focus your marketing efforts.

5. Make it easy to purchase tickets.

If your event is ticketed, use a service like Eventbrite so people can easily sign up and pay online. You can also use this tool to communicate with ticket buyers so they are always aware of what’s going on + become increasingly excited with each update.

6. Share + use social media to build FOMO.

Help your audience understand what they’ll miss out on if they don’t come to your event. Tell them about the food, the drinks, the fun, the networking opportunities or the insightful speaker. Be as specific as possible, but make sure you’re sharing things that are important to your audience and that they will connect with. Invite them into the conversation + talk to them rather than at them.

7. Share often, but don’t overwhelm people.

Make sure your social media calendar not only includes announcements but features about other aspects of your business as well. Let your audience know about your event, but try to avoid sharing too much. A few ideas:

  • Focus promotions on certain days rather than every day.

  • Post stories on Instagram to remind people more often since they disappear after 24 hours

  • Go live to share about your event + the heart behind it.

  • Get out + about by sharing your flyers around the hotspots you visited before + engage in conversation with those interested.

8. Don’t rely on others to get the word out for you.

If you have an event on the horizon, now's the time to build brand awareness. Make sure your community knows who you are and what you do so that, when it comes time to promote, your audience is ready and waiting to support you. The work NOW will help you LATER.

9. Share photos during + after to build interest for your next event.

Share live from the event to remind those who aren’t at your event about everything they’re missing out on, and use the photos you take to let your audience know how your event went and why they should come next time. This is also a great time to get those interested in future events to join your mailing list for updates and announcements so they don’t miss out next time.

Promoting an event in a small town seems daunting, but, by applying just a few branding principles to your event marketing, you can knock it out of the park every time.

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How A Focus Group Can Change Your Business


A while back, Purveyor House lead a focus group for a startup. We were looking for clarity about if the service offered was needed, how our target market felt about it and what we should call it.

We were amazed at the incredible feedback our group gave us. It was insightful, thoughtful and, most importantly, helpful. At the end, we were able to clearly see that we were on to a great idea and had a clear list of things to update as we moved to implementation and launch.

Not sure what we're talking about? Read on to find out what focus groups are, why they can help you and how to facilitate your own.


Focus Group 101

What are focus groups? 

  • Focus groups are a gathering conducted by a founder, marketer or third party to facilitate a guided conversation regarding a particular product, service or new business idea. They happen prior to launch with people from the product’s target demographic who have diverse perspectives.

Why are they important?

  • Many business founders are so close to the product or service that it makes complete sense. Advice from loved ones is helpful, but it can still be too close. 

  • When a group of people who are in your target market speak freely and without reservation, they can help you see the value of what you’re bringing to market, what holes you need to patch up and what questions you may hear from others (and how to answer them) as you launch.

When is it a good time to set one up?

  • Anytime! It’s never too late to get outside perspective. Ideally, focus groups occur after a vision, mission and business plan have been set up. At this stage, you know what your product or service is going to be, have enough detail on logistics on how it would work and can define who should be the end user. Being able to answer detailed questions is helpful to guide the conversation.

  • If you haven’t figured out those pieces, that’s ok. You can either wait until you’ve put in some more work or set up a group with people who haven’t heard your idea to see if it holds weight with them. You may find their insight is just what you need to form the idea more fully.

  • If you’ve already set up shop, it’s not too late for a focus group. Having a different perspective can be huge when you want to shift gears in your business, offer something new or rebrand. 

Who gets invited?

  • We’ve found the optimal size of a group is anywhere between 5-8 people. This gives a diverse pool of experiences and perspectives but is also small enough that everyone has a chance to speak. 

  • It’s important to invite people who would purchase what you have to offer—in other words, your target market. By inviting and engaging with your target market, you’re able to see if your idea is one they’d purchase, what their reservations are, the types of questions you need to answer in your marketing and website, and what resonates with them in how you describe it.

How does it flow?

  • Ideally, focus groups are lead by a facilitator. This person can either be the founder or someone like a marketing lead or hired agency. By using a third party, the founder is able to watch the interaction, answer logistical questions and take notes. The goal is for the facilitator to keep the conversation on track and press on attendees for deeper and richer answers when appropriate.

Set The Stage


    • Who’s here?

    • Why did you invite them?

    • Introduce the facilitator if they are a third party.


    • What do you want to achieve at the end of the conversation?

    • What are everyone’s responsibilities while here?

      • Founder - Their goal is to gather feedback, answer detail questions on how the service works and to take notes. If they are facilitating, they will also to ask the questions.

      • Facilitator - If they are used, they keep the conversation moving, make sure that everyone has a chance to speak, and ensure that the answers are in line with the goals of the gathering.

      • Attendees - They are here to provide honest + thoughtful answers to questions while keeping respect for the idea, founders and other attendees.


    Share who this product or service is build for using your target or ideal demographic.

    • The target market for this offering is...


    Lead off with your vision + mission statement to provide a framework.

    • The vision + mission for for this offering is...

Ask Away

These are the questions we asked our recent focus group. You can fine-tune and tweak to get the results you desire from your gathering.

  1. What are your immediate and unfiltered thoughts on hearing the vision + mission statements?

  2. Are you interested in this offering?

  3. How many people can you name that would be good quality candidates for this service?

  4. Would you share this offering with someone you know?

  5. What would motivate you to insist that a loved one check out this service?

  6. What are your reservations about a service like this? 

  7. What assurances or answers to questions do you need ?

  8. What type of marketing would motivate you to get more information regarding the offering?

  9. The name of this service is _________. Does that resonate with the offering?

Tips for A Great Conversation

  • Probe for more detail and deeper explanations & experiences. Ask leading questions to get deeper into why attendees feel how they do about your product or service and how you are describing it.

  • Have something tangible. If you have an offering that can be seen or felt, bring it!  For example, if you’re looking to rebrand and have a mood-board or rough logo designs, print them out and go through a series of questions that ask for attendees’ first impressions. 

  • Record the session. Use your voice memos if you have an iPhone. Just be sure that everyone knows they’re being recorded and are OK with it. That way, you can focus on what’s being said without furiously scribbling.

  • Bring a friend who knows your offering. An ally who knows your plans can help by asking extra questions and facilitating a unique conversation. Just be sure they are still open to giving constructive feedback.

  • Be sure to lay out expectations on the privacy of the conversation. If you’re OK with those in the group telling others about the conversation and your offering, let them know. If you want them to keep it a secret until you are ready for them to share, then be sure you say that in the very beginning. Understand that details may still leak out, so be prepared for that.

  • Keep it casual, simple and open. Let the attendees know you value their time and feedback.

  • Resist defense + be open to feedback. You may hear things you don’t like, don’t agree with or find upsetting. Remind yourself that it’s better to hear this now than to find yourself months down the line wishing someone had said it sooner. However, this is still your idea, so, while attendees’ input may be helpful, you are still the captain of the ship.

  • Send a thank you note a few days after the group. 

Remember, this is a conversation! Interact + have fun with it.

How to Use the Holidays to Reinforce Your Brand


The holidays are here and, with them, the temptation to post that really cute-looking cartoon turkey wielding a “Happy Thanksgiving” sign written in Comic Sans. Unless your brand is a clipart website or a preschool, avoid that turkey. The same is true for those really lame stock photos that don’t in any way represent you.

Keep your brand voice, mission, and visual atheistic in mind as you approach the holidays. It’s a great time to post well wishes, discounts and special events. However, like any post you create, holiday posts should be on-point with your brand strategically and visually—even more so because you likely have more eyes looking your way.

If you typically communicate with gifs and jokes, go ahead slip puns into your holiday posts. If you normally have swirls, twirls and clipart in your graphics, go crazy. But, if you don’t typically do that, it’s best to keep your sentiments and graphics in line with how you normally speak and what you look like. Veering from who you are in any post makes you appear to be unorganized and inauthentic. During the holidays, it will also keep your message from being memorable. Bottom line, be who you actually are.

I want to show you some examples of good and bad holiday posts. Let’s start with the rough ones.

Neither of these are great options for pretty much ANY brand, but they absolutely do not represent Purveyor House. Besides the quality of the images, they do not capture our brand at all. The colors, graphics, lines and fonts are NOT part of our brand story. In addition, the captions are not our standard tone of voice, there doesn’t seem to be any thoughtfulness to what was said and there really isn’t any value to either of these. If we were to post them, it would look like our account was hacked.

Now, some great examples of holiday posts.

Better, right? These posts show you can be authentic and relevant at the same time. The colors, fonts, logo usage, photo and graphic quality and genuine captions thoroughly represent these two brands.

Here’s how to stay on brand and be you this holiday season:

  1. Plan time for you. Schedule your posts. Take some time and look at your calendar. What is coming up and what do you want to say? Taking time to schedule will help you stay on brand, and it will save you a lot of time in the long run. We like using later.com and planoly.com.

  2. Look like you. Keep to your brand’s visual atheistic with colors, fonts and logos. Don’t go off the rails. Use your planning time to take and edit great photos or to source amazing stock photos. For editing, we like VSCO and Snapseed. For stock photos, Unsplash.com is our go to.

  3. Talk like you. Don’t confuse your audience by sounding like a totally different brand. Use your normal writing style, tone of voice and vocabulary.

  4. BE YOU. Only you can be.

Peace, Ashlee