Today?s Small Fringe Event May Be Tomorrow?s Valuable Marketing Opportunity

Deciding where to direct promotional funds is a decision that often takes a great deal of analysis and discussion since making the wrong decision can prove to be wasteful. To prevent wasteful spending, many marketers direct promotional spending at what they view as being the most efficient for reaching a large portion of their target market. This often means marketers will steer clear when it comes to promoting at small activities, such as special events, that appeal to a relatively small sub-culture. For marketers, such events either do not attract the target market they are accustom to or these events attract very few participants.

But it is wise for marketers to pay close attention to fringe events as these may someday offer rewarding opportunities. A good example can be seen with the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival held each March in Austin, Texas. In the beginning, SXSW was considered a niche musical event showcasing little-known musical acts and hosting small music workshops. Since 1987, when 700 attended the first festival, SXSW has expanded and has added film and interactive technology festivals. It has also grown in attendance with over 85,000 predicted to attend this year. In fact, SXSW now ranks as one of the most important cultural events in the U.S.

And while this event may not have started out as a marketing opportunity that big name companies would consider, this is no longer the case. As discussed in this AdWeek story, SXSW now attracts sponsorships from such major brands including Budweiser, Mazda, McDonalds and Samsung. And these are just a few. The SXSW website lists many others including Pepsi, Marriott and United. What is important to understand about sponsorships is that generally only one brand within a product category can be a sponsor. So being early to recognize the value of an event can give a company an advantage over its competitors.

Thus, the key takeaway from this story is that marketers should keep a watchful eye on non-mainstream events. What may start out as a gathering for a small group of passionate fans (e.g. Comic-Con) may become a popular event offering valuable sponsorship opportunities.