Creating a Buzz about the Didsbury Arts Festival

Louise Attenborough, Chocolate Collective

For the past few months we’ve been working with the Didsbury Arts Festival (DAF). As a local business we were really keen to be part of what has become a cultural highlight for the local area. Over the years the festival has grown, attracting over 5000 visitors, and as it continues to grow in popularity Queen Bee came on board as a local sponsor and supported DAF in the development of a marketing strategy.

The brief was to bring a fresh perspective to their marketing approach and help raise awareness of the festival beyond South Manchester.

So what have we learnt? Here are our insights so far…


Creativity Counts

Like all community, volunteer led events, the budget was tight and with only 3 months til the Festival we had to be creative! But that doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. The first port of call is research. Look at what has worked well in previous years and explore what others have done. There’s lots of information available online evaluating what’s been a success for other people, so take the best practise and see how/if it can work for you. Then is the time to explore new areas and local opportunities. If possible trial a few (well researched) new ideas. With some gentle persuasion and tough negotiation even the things you think are unattainable could be within your reach. These new tactics might very well capture the imagination of a new audience and make the difference. Think BIG!


People Power

One of the best things when working on a new project, particularly if it’s in a new subject area, is the people you’ll meet. From a marketing perspective we’ve spoken with lots of new suppliers and made some great contacts. Even those that haven’t worked with us on DAF this year are potential suppliers (and even customers) in the future. Every conversation makes us more knowledgeable and helps us learn and grow. This is only amplified by the people you meet along the way. In our case a passionate Board of DAF devotees and a dedicated group of volunteers whose community spirit, values and hard work are an inspiration.


To infinity and beyond…

During the blue sky thinking phase of developing the marketing strategy don’t throw any ideas away. There may not be the time, money or inclination this year, but ‘park’ those ideas as they may just be perfect for next time – waste not! Even more important is to think how the marketing activity you develop for one project can help build a platform or audience for the next one. In the case of DAF a survey, e-newsletter and social media, backed with incentives and advertising to drive subscribers, followers and fans, creates an audience that you can continue to engage with and build throughout the year.


And finally… monitor and evaluate. It comes full circle. When you know what works and just as importantly what doesn’t, each future project gets better and better. Just like this year’s DAF will be the best yet!


We’re counting down the days til June 20! Can’t wait!