Monday, July 24, 2017

Advertising and Promoting your Medieval/Renaissance Faire

We have gone over some topics to help you put on a medieval faire; now it is time to get an audience.

We have a phrase in wrestling (sorry for the language); “Putting Asses in the Seats”.  It refers to that wrestling is not wrestling, its purpose is to get people to come and pay for the show. This concept is your goal to. What good is all the hard work you put into this faire, it if no one sees it.

Remember, you are not the only person that wants people to come to the faire. The reason that vendors, artists, performers have agreed to be there is so people will come and see them. The main step to carry out this goal is to promote, advertise and get the word out about it.

The following is a list of items which will help you promote your faire. There is no one answer or solution in promoting your faire; it is a tapestry of procedures that all come together to make a successful event.

Advertising/Public Relations Team- Early on you should have picked a team responsible in getting the word out about your faire.  They might be professionals, but if not, they need the skills allowing them to brainstorm ideas about promoting your faire.

You may decide to hire an ad agency to do this, remember this can be expensive.  The bottom line for either option, is to get the public interested in your festival.

Logo- A logo is a visual representation of your faire. Your logo will be placed on souvenirs, your website, brochures, poster etc., so make sure it is professionally created and produced.  A logo can make or break how people think about your faire, do not skimp on this item.

Social Media- You need to saturate your presence on the internet. This means a Facebook page, twitter, LinkedIn account, blah, blah, blah, whatever trend has become popular in the last few minutes.

The point is, this is a very inexpensive and a valuable way to spread the news about your festival.

Do not forget about Bloggers. You are reading this blog, so you are probably interested in what I am writing. Seek out bloggers who might want to mention your faire.

Your website must be professional looking. Make sure you have links for your entertainment and others, in this way, they will make sure to link back to your site.

This is another item that you must start early.  Get your social media accounts and start making contacts with others, interreact with these people long before your faire occurs.  There is nothing that is more irritating, then to have a stranger come to my site and want me to promote/review their faire. Where were they when I was writing my previous blogs?  Why didn’t they take the time to first comment on my site, before asking me to talk about them?

Other websites- there are many websites which lists festivals and events.  Seek them out, and get listed.  There are many faires I have attended where I found out about them out on one of these sites.

You can vary the type of sites you get listed on.  One may be medieval festival’s, another might simply be events that take place in your area of state. The more sites your faire listed on, the higher possibility a potential attendee will view it.

Here are some sites I think might be useful to you:

 A great list of faires. Also has a map to show faires nearby.

Another list of faires I often reference.

Meister's Realm: I also list this site below, because it has so much information on it.
This is a partial list, do some research and locate more.

Advertise- I know your budget might not be huge, but do not forget to spend some of it on traditional advertising (radio, TV and print ads).  This means you might need to produce a good quality ad, seek a professional out who might be interested in volunteering their time, or as a sponsor.

With advertising, start local and spread out. There migh be some people, like myself, who may travel couple hours to a faire; but, most of your attendance will be local. Pay more attention to the local market, and then widen out, with fewer ads the further distance away from your faire.

You may find if you pay for adverting at a local station, you will get some free promotion from it. Most stations have at least one program that promotes local events, or interviews local celebrities or newsmakers. You may find they will invite you on these shows.

Posters/Flyers- Not all advertising is traditional. Hand out flyers, or brochures about your event. This is another instance that places like a college or a local theater group comes in handy; if you cannot get them as actors in your faire, you may get them as customers.

A poster is also a great way to get attention to your faire.  These can be put in store windows and other locations.  Do not forget to give some to your vendors and other financial supporters; make sure you make enough so they can put them in their businesses.

Celebrity Endorsements- I mentioned this in my last blog. Now let us expand on this topic.

Having a celebrity come to the faire, automatically increases your audience. Now, I understand you cannot get someone extremely famous, but you can substitute world for local fame.

The local weather or radio personality is a perfect example. They will mention where they will be, not only do you get a local celebrity, but also free press.  It is another way to open the door for you to get a local news interview for your faire.

Do not forget local author’s either. They would love to be part of your faire, and may even rent a booth or tent to sell copies of their books.

I mentioned this in my last post, but do not forget politicians. Seek out those from local mayors to state reps.  If they know there will be more than 10 people in one spot, they will show up to do some campaigning. Have them officially open the faire with a ribbon cutting ceremony; at least, the local paper might cover you, and politicians love a photo opportunity.

Other Faires and Events- Do not overlook other types of faires and events. Rent a table at these events to promote your faire. I have become interested in a different type of faire (such as a comic or steampunk) because they were present at a medieval fiare.

This is where having your own personal medieval costume comes in handy. If you are in period clothing, you will gain attention. Once you got their attention, promote your faire.

If your local town or city has a parade (4th of July, Labor Day etc.), see if you can enter a float. If you cannot have a float, see if you can walk on the side of the parade handing out flyers (again, having a medieval costume would be valuable).

Word of Mouth- This will be more important as you put on more faires.  It also encompasses most of the previous recommendations. 

If you treat your vendors, and performers with respect, they will mention it to others in their field. Soon your will find they will contact you about being part of your festival.

This is the same with your customers. If you put on a good faire, something people will enjoy, you will find that their family and friends will be attending your next one.

So now we have a list of things to promote your faire, it is just some suggestions.  Get the word out about your faire not matter what, and you will be a success.

Some final words and recommendations.

Write down everything you are doing, and then create a checklist which includes what you need to accomplish this goal.  This is a good time to have your entire staff with you and engage them in a brainstorming session.

To show how much work is needed, check out this one example:

Are you charging an entrance fee?  If so, then you will need tickets, ticket takers. 

Schedule for ticket takers sifts.

Will you charge for parking? Same items apply to your parking attendants as for the ticket takers.

Will you provide receipts?

How many entrances will you have.  Is the area closed off, except the entrance?

You will need a hand stamp for people who are leaving and coming back. 

Rates for entrance?  Will there be discount rates?  If rates are based on age, what will be the ages be?

Before you even start selling tickets at the entrance, your ticket takers will need money there so they can make change? 

Will you have a lock box or cash register?  If cash register, your ticket takers will need training.  If not, they will need a calculator.

During the day, will someone retrieve the money?

How will you keep track of tickets sold? 

Is it only cash, or will you also accept credit cards?

Will you have a portable ATM available?  Should it be inside, or outside the gate (so people can pay for entrance).

These are just a few examples I thought of about one aspect of a faire.


Here is some links to some resources you can find helpful. There are certainly more so do some research and find as many as you can:

This is a wonderful site, and is run by the promoter of the Silver Kingdom Renaissance Faire. Your will find a lot of information about faires, and also medieval acts and performers (many of them I have described on my posts).

This site describes the costs of running a medieval faire.

Meister's Realm; My go to site for a ton of medieval faire information. Check it out, you will not be disappointed with the information listed there.

A webpage describing the step of putting on a medieval faire as a fundraising event.

Contingency Plans- Draw up a list of things that might go wrong, and what each person on your staff responsibilities are.  These might include injuries, sever weather (mentioned above), to vendors and performers not showing up.  The more you plan, the better your faire will be.

Some final thoughts about putting on your faire. 

When selecting vendors, try to limit the type (ones that sells shoes, or hats etc.) to two of each kind. In this way, your faire is not oversaturated with vendors selling only one product.

Make sure people on your staff are connected via cell phones, or radios. I know you are a medieval/renaissance faire, but sometimes you have to violate the timeframe for safety, security, and convenience. Your staff must be in constant contact in case of emergencies, or just to fix some last-minute problems that will arise.

In terms of cell phones, make sure there is at least two staff members with a weather app, and it on and is working.  Chances are your faire is outside, you will need to know when inclement weather might occur.

Always remember that Rome was not built in a day, and neither great faires.  I have been to very small faires that over the years grew and grew, and not they are major events.

In conclusion, in the military we had a phrase “Pay Attention to Detail”.  You will find out that if you take care of the little items, the big ones seem to take care of themselves.

Thanks for reading this series on putting on and promoting a medieval faire. 
Next week, we return to one of these faires, The New Massachusetts Renaissance Faire, formerly Market of the Moons.

W.A.Rusho is an Author, Historian, and Professional Wrestler. You can reach him on his website, or via email.

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  1. Good job on outlining all the various advertising avenues for a faire. That's a comprehensive list! Again, I really admire the people who do the work to pull this off.

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  4. Hail and well met again my friend!
    Thank you so much for mentioning my blog Renaissance Performers and Merchants.
    I do all the promoting for both of our shows (Silver Kingdom Festival as well as Abbadia Mare Festival).
    I will add my two cents:
    1) Know your advertising budget. If you go beyond that and can't pay your performers then you are in trouble. Know what your area is as well. For AM I try to focus on the North Shore area of MA and for SKF I try to focus on CT, RI and MA areas.
    2) Know your audience. Most of the audience that comes to these events are already Rennies or sometimes they are families looking for a fun day out (or hopefully a weekend). You need to know your target audience and reach out to them.
    3) Ask your performers/merchants/crew to also share your event. Sometimes performers/merchants will create their own event that they created. Be careful with this as sometimes the information isn't exactly accurate. Make sure that you say you are "going" to all those events but add any important information if need be.
    4) Yes, create a FAN page on FB and NOT a Group page. This is really important. Do NOT (I repeat) DO NOT - Create a PROFILE page for your business on FB. This is a NO NO and FB WILL shut you down! A FAN page is the best way to create buzz about your event and you can post pictures, create events, and plug other vendors/performers that are coming to your event. The more you plug them, the better it is for your show and they appreciate you plugging them. I actually wrote an article years ago on how to promote a Renaissance Faire on a very small budget. I'd have to search for the link, but I can post that if you like.
    Hope to see you at Silver Kingdom! (Oh look, a plug!)

    1. Thank you so much for you input.
      I cannot wait until the Silver Kingdom Renaissance Faire begins, I am looking forward to going to it.

  5. I'll be at the gate so be sure to say HI!