I was recently asked to help a volunteer organization get started and to market their Holiday Boutique. The woman asking for help had never done it before and she was scared to death. So, I offerd pro bono advice. Here's what I have told her so far:
What I need to know to get started are the basic W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why!
So, for starters, when is the event?
Where will it be held?
Who benefits from the sales?
What form of payment is accepted (cash, credit card, checks)?
How many different vendors/crafters will be at the event?
What types of items will be on sale at the event?
How many years has the event been taking place?
Are there any really unusual products offered at the event?
Are all items hand- made? Or are resale items allowed?
What is the price range of items for sale?
Why should people attend the event and spend money? List some things that the money earned can/will be used for:
Is there a marketing/advertising budget? If so, how much is allocated for literature, signage, promotion, etc.?
Have you gathered names, emails or addresses of past customers? If so, how many names do you have?
Who have been your best customers from the past? Hospital visitors? Volunteers? Staff? General Public?
What “free” publications can you advertise in? Are there newsletters? Volunteer Mailings? Etc. ?
Is there a theme or title for this year’s event? Some times a catchy name helps—like “White Christmas”, “Holiday Shopping Made Easy”, Etc?
Any other info that you feel would be helpful like what signage you are allowed to do at the hospital, what other forms of marketing/advertising has been done in the past, etc?
So, although this is obviously JUST THE BEGINNING, the overall advice for those of you doing something (this applies to a business problem as well as a marketing problem) is to start by identifying what you are doing, what's the goal, when are you doing it - this will drive deadlines for activites leading up to event, who cares about what you are doing - this will help you determine your stake holders or potential targeted customer list and advertising sources, what is unique about what you are doing (or trying to solve) and what obstacles are in your way to accomplishing your goal.
If you START here, you will see in very short order that a natural plan of what needs to be done, how many people you need to do it, who needs to be involved and what tools you will need. It really is a universal starting point for all projects...and you don't need complicated project plans to do it --- although-- if you are involved with a technology project-- it is almost a given that it will be expected -- so suck it up and get a good grasp of the most widely used project software;)
Happy Holidays and Holiday Boutiques;)