Ralley to September

Over the last five months I've been working (beside my day-job) more and more on this years KUNST/MITTE. While the event is in early September, I aimed to go on vacation in early August. So I had to get most of my work done by the end of July.

It has been a real uphill ralley, with lots of new developments on the way.

We secured lots of new funding this year, which is really good for us and why we are able to work on all three of our main problems:

Advertising

We couldn’t afford any big advertising over last two years and we don’t want to waste huge amounts of money on big city-light campaigns with unsure outcome.

The main problem is that our event is only once a year, but we need to be in our visitors heads all the time for them to anticipate the fair.
This is why we developed this idea of a newsletter for people who want to learn/know about art.
We are using a blog to post interesting content from different authors. Aside from it we are asking for e-mail addresses, to send new post and more. And when the next art fair comes around, we have a direct line to our visitors.

This is our primary marketing solution. We consider it rather cheap and to be very efficient in the long-term.

In addition we can still afford a moderate advertising budget and wanted to test the following possibilities:

Advertise where people who seriously like art might also be
* Art magazines in print
* Art blog/sites online

Advertise near us
* Banners in the city
* Local magazins

Advertise in day-trip distance
* newspapers in cities around Magdeburg

I wanted to make sure, we can measure the impact on those advertisements (if possible). So we included special offers on the print ads and will use tracking for web. So we will have data to look at afterwards.

Most of our budget now goes to advertising, ’cause as I wrote earlier the event needs more visitors to stay alive in the long term.

Recognizing the entrance

We also had problems with artists and visitors finding the place. Our park was unused for decades (until 2012), that it has only a very small, unmarked driveway from a rather big road.

To hopefully finally solve this problem, we are going to
- place two 3,5x2 meter banners at the sides of our driveway - wrap 8 posters around 4 trees right by our entrance

We will find out how well this works out in a few weeks. I am pretty optimistic.

Btw: We also requested a proper sign from the city for the park in general, but this is something that takes ages.

Parking

But finding the entrance is not the biggest problem our visitors have. There is no parking in the park and only a few spots in the streets around us.
In the last two years we simply ignored it, because we had other, bigger problems. This year we are offering a parking lot; but it's 1,3 km away.

Sure there are many (old and unused) industrial areas around, but we couldn't secure a lot closer and big enough to fit.

So we thought about solutions for transportation. The easiest—from our perspective—was to offer a parking ticket, that would allow you and up to three other people in the car to use the tram/bus for 3 stops and get out right in front of the park. The operator wouldn’t make that deal. Why? I maybe go into this in a later post.

So we thought about a parking ticket that would allow you to use our shuttle service for free. A strongly discussed solution, but we decided to cut it, because of the costs (and possible great losses) for a service like this. But we (mostly I) consider this the best solution up to this point. If we have tons of visitors that make the parking even more horrible in the area, this is our premium solution. In addition to the shuttle we want to offer bicycles for the ride.

So what are we doing this year about it? A minimum. We are

  • offering a free parking area 1,3km away
  • let people who use it know, when the tram/bus goes into our direction
  • measure how many people use it
  • and just may be able to offer some bicycles for the ride (keep your fingers crossed)

The art fair happens in early September and I'll be making notes here (sharing insights) after that.