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Here’s one of the toughest marketing challenges you’ll ever face – promoting community involvement. What can you do? (20 Nov 08)

How do you promote an environmental event to young people without boring the pants off them - and when you don’t even have their names?

Some weeks ago I sent you an article with 19 things that you should think about before you put pen to paper when promoting a community event. (If you missed it you can see it by clicking here).

I hope you found it useful.

It’s easy though for me to dish out all this free advice to you all the time. Your job is so much harder because you have to actually create messages that get people involved in community projects.

This is such a tricky thing because direct marketing, which is what you are doing, is based on the premise that you first have to identify the prospects for what you offer, then what its benefits are to them.

These are not always easily defined. Community involvement doesn’t always bring clear, immediate benefits. So how do you “sell” it?

So that I practice what I preach I sent the checklist to Andy Cave of Helena Partnerships and asked him to fill it in, so I could have a go at doing a letter based on what he told me – his brief.

Andy was a great help, but I had to send it back and ask for more information. Poor old Andy has been absolutely flat out these last few weeks which is why he probably just ran out of time.

This makes one important point.

You really must find the time to sit down and think through the benefits of your projects to your residents well before you start to promote them.

And just as importantly you must be able to answer all their concerns and worries about why they should or shouldn’t attend.

I am attaching Andy’s answers here (Click here) so you can see what I had to work with. Please don’t tell him, but I wanted to go back to Andy a third time for more information, but as beggars can’t be choosers I didn’t have the nerve.

It was a quite a tricky letter as the audience was young people and the event was an environmental project which is hardly going to float their boats.

But the trickiest thing of all is that we didn’t even have their addresses.

We are often asked about this problem of marketing to young people. Well, the same marketing principles apply. Make sure what you are offering is relevant, get their attention with a good headline and answer all their concerns and reasons as to why they shouldn’t do what you want them to do.

But in this case, we had to do it through other people – influencers.

Any way here’s the letter. Please tell me what you think and how you would have done it.

Feel free to use and adapt it anyway you want. All I ask is that you let me know if you have any success using it.

And if you think a letter is a rather old fashioned way to promote something just remember that everybody likes to receive a letter.

In fact if you are just considering a leaflet for your community events - think again. It might seem easier to knock up but a properly written letter will always get a higher response.

This is because it’s a more personal style of communication and people always respond better to a personal approach. They like being spoken to as individuals.

Read the letter, then I’ll show it again with comments, so you can see how simple, yet carefully thought-out such a letter is

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