Giving A New Face to a Not-So-Old Name
First Fridays, Downtown Florence’s monthly arts and crafts exhibition, was established in 2006 and met a warm response from locals. But in recent years, the event had lost some
of its luster, with attendance down for both exhibitors and patrons. In winter of 2009/10, Downtown Florence Unlimited, the organizer of the event, determined that new efforts
would be undertaken to revitalize the event to unprecedented levels. It was ambitious.
But the event committee took up the task, and quickly set forth a plan to formalize the structure of the event – mirroring several other successful events in the area.
In tandem with organizational restructuring, VLA’s Clyde Beaver created a comprehensive marketing and public relations strategy. Beaver and Antoine also acted as consulting committee members. First was a new logo that reflected the spirit and whimsy of the
event. Next to come was the translation of the new brand into a new website that was comprehensive and informative for both exhibitors and the public.
VLA Public Relations efforts were well received by local media, and provided the platform
to announce the new event website and social media presence, with special focus on a Facebook fan page.
Concurrently, branding and marketing tools were rolled out. Hotel rack cards, banners, business cards and billboards introduced the new event branding. Organizational tools further demonstrated the new sense of professionalism, including booth diagrams, vendor information forms, event badges and the branding of a new information center.
The response was almost immediate. Exhibitors, who previously averaged 25-30 per event, jumped to 50-60 in the first two months, and shortly after scaled to an amazing 90-100 per event. With more exhibitors showing a dramatically increased diversity of local art, visitors found it had to stay away. The audience that once numbered in the few hundreds grew to
an average of 1,500 per event in the first two months – and grew to an unprecedented 2,500-plus per month from summer into late fall 2010.
The event’s website saw over 10,000 visitors in 2010, with nearly 28,000 page views.
And the Facebook page registered nearly 2,600 fans by year-end.
Throughout 2010, VLA continued its public relations efforts along with further website enhancements and special event promotions.
Someone famous once said, “A great idea is just words on paper until you can find
someone to make it real.” VLA is pleased to have this opportunity to serve the community while demonstrating its ability to build an event, or a company, using a well-tested holistic approach to marketing.