It’s officially summer! You know what that means; it’s festival season! For the next three months, it’s time to enjoy fairs, festivals, outdoor concerts, firework displays, outdoor markets, and more. Even though I listed a variety of different types of events, they all have one thing in common, which is they all have local vendors. If you’re a local business owner or artist and have only gone to these events as a spectator, you are missing out on a great marketing or public relations opportunity. Think about it, have you ever gone to one of these events without seeing a local business selling their goods or promoting their services? Alternatively, even if there are no local vendors in sight, prominent displays acknowledge the sponsors. At a concert for example, you can see a banner with a list of companies that financed the show. If you’re a small business, you may want to think about sponsorship or having a booth at a local summer event. If you’re an artist, a local summer event might be a good place to showcase your talents. I myself have seen firsthand the positive effects of having a presence at local events. While in college, I interned at a nationally syndicated talk show. The talk show I interned for backed a major concert series in the city where they tape shows. As part of their sponsorship, the production company’s name appeared at the concert shows. In addition, the talk show hosted a tent, in which concert attendees can sign up for TV show tickets. Interns like myself, handed out promotional items such as bubbles, coozies, facemasks, sunglasses, etc. This is has been an ongoing successful venture for the production company. The production company not only gets to show that it is a part of the community in which it tapes in, but also convinces locals to come to a show taping. You don’t have to be a nationally syndicated television show to reap the benefits of sponsoring and/or having a booth at a local event. Sponsorship and/or participation can help get your name out to those who don’t know about you in the community. If you sell goods, having a booth is a great way to move merchandise. If you’re a singer or a band, what better way to get your name out for future gigs. No matter what genre of music you perform, don’t rule out performing at a festival. You never know who is on the lookout for say a wedding performer. Sponsorship can also help raise awareness in similar ways, by showing community involvement and getting your brand’s name out there. Sponsorship might be a better way to go if you provide services as opposed to goods. If you decide to participate or sponsor an event make sure you do your homework first. Sponsorship and participation don’t automatically equal more customers. Think about your key demographics and theme in relation to the event. For example, it might not be a good idea to have a booth at a pirate festival, if your business can’t even touch on the pirate theme. For the record, I have been to a pirate festival in the summer. Here’s a list of some summer food festivals that take place around the United States: http://www.buzzfeed.com/robfranklin/awesomely-weird-summer-food-festivals If you’re thinking about sponsoring an event, try to get an informational packet before hand, if they have one. If you can, do a little research to see how prominent of a placement your business logo will have. If you provide a service, but do decide to go with a booth instead, hand out something memorable. For example, a face mask of a famous talk show host. You can also do a little preparation. Make sure you have plenty of business cards and fliers on hand to pass out. Finally, let your current fan base know about your participation. This is where social media comes into play. Announce via Twitter and Facebook where you will be and when. Or what event your sponsoring. If you can, try to tag, like, and/or follow the accounts of the event. Social media also means that the benefit of participating in an event doesn’t end with the event. You can always follow up with a status and/or tweet about what a great time your business had at the event, even if you really didn’t. Posting pictures is another great follow up. This alone makes the case for an Instagram account for your brand. Going back to the idea of passing out fliers, make sure to list the links to your social media accounts. Lastly, remember to relax, have fun, and promote. Oh and try to snag a treat.