Event marketing is hard work …
…That’s one hell of an understatement. These days, the event market is more crowded than ever before. You have to do whatever it takes to stand out from the pack. A big part of that is keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing so you can:
(a) take advantage of holes in their strategy
(b) take the things they are doing well and improve on them.
But how do you peek into a festival’s marketing strategy? How do you know if your strategy is working better than theirs? While there are a bunch of ways, I compiled 4 easy ways to start looking at your competitors. This will allow you to understand the landscape and get an edge in your marketing.
1. GOOGLE TRENDS
Google search data is public and can be browsed at https://trends.google.com/. This is a GREAT way to look up competitor info. Some reports I use:
You vERsUS a Competitor
Google Trends is a great way to see how much buzz you receive versus a competitive music festival. This will essentially show how much share-of-voice your marketing efforts are getting you. Should you even be concerned about another festival or event, or is it inconsequential to you? This report will tell you that.
Your competitor’s performance Year-over-Year
You can also use Google Trend reports to see how a festival is trending year-over-year. While not 100% accurate, this highly correlates with ticket sales. How much buzz did the lineup announce this year generate versus last? On average, is the festival trending down or up over the years?
Compare which lineup announcement got more attention
Similar to the first report, but Google Trends lets you zoom in on a particular time frame. If you have competing announcements (e.g. a lineup announce) you can use this tool to see who got the most market share and buzz.
See what your competitor’s most popular markets are
Scroll down beyond the “Interest over time” report and there’s a bevy of tools to play with. One particularly useful one is to see what markets are popular for your competitor. You can then position your marketing efforts around that information, for instance by seeing if you can take over share-of-voice in less competitive markets.
And much more. This is a HUGELY useful tool in seeing what your competition is up to.
2. THE BIT.LY TRICK
Want to know how many people clicked on a link of a competitor? Many people don’t realize bit.ly short links are public for all to see. Simply add a “+” after the link, and you can gather its click data.
Take this link that Bonnaroo posted to get tickets:
Simply add a “+” to it and you can see it received 147 clicks, 94% from FB, and 98% from the USA: http://bit.ly/2IBkQ8d+
I even keep a running total of Bit.ly data so I can compare how competitors perform on certain announcements (e.g. Lineup announces, on sales, etc) year-over-year. You can use this in conjunction with Google Trend reports to determine whether they are trending up or down year over year.
3. FACEBOOK ADS
Here’s a quick and dirty trick to see your competitor’s social ads. In an effort to increase transparency, Facebook now allows you to view the ads that any business is running (yes, even yours).
To peak into their strategy, simply go to their page and click “Info and Ads” and you can see all of their creative.
You can even click the ads and analyze the UTM parameters to see their targeting. For example, for the Voodoo ads above, I can see this URL: https://www.voodoofestival.com/?utm_campaign=2018-paid&utm_source=tbits&utm_medium=facebook&utm_content=20181005-post-on-sale-retargeting
That tells me that they are using Tradeable Bits to serve up remarketing ads and that the ad was created on 10-05-2018.
Here’s another quick trick to determine how competitors are structuring their campaigns — If you get their ad, click the upper right corner and go to “Why am I seeing this?”
It’ll show you the basics of their targeting strategy:
4. FIND BLOGS/NEWS SITES THAT WRITE ABOUT YOUR COMPETITION
This is a simple & powerful trick I use to find all the publications that cover the competing festival. Getting this information allows you to do a wide variety of marketing against it — from reaching out to those writers to get coverage on your festival, running display ads on articles written about competing festivals, analyze their PR strategy, etc
What you want to do is pull a list of your competitor’s backlinks, which are all the websites that link directly back to the fest. Once you have that list, you can easily sort through all blogs and news sites that have written about your competition.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Sign up for any web tool that allows for ‘backlink analysis’. Here I use the Raven Tools (They offer a free 14 day trial, no credit card required): https://raventools.com/
2. Go through the onboarding prompts to get your website added as a campaign, until you hit the main screen:
3. Go to Link Building > Backlink Explorer, enter your competitor’s website, and click “Explore”:
4. Wait a few minutes for the report to run, then click into the report under the “History” section:
5. From there I export it to a CSV:
6. Open the file up in Excel, highlight the first row and to go Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cell Rules > Text that Contains
7. Type in “Blog”, then repeat step 6 and type in “News”. Now you should have any URLs with those words highlighted in red.
8. Finally, go to Sort & Filter > Custom Sort, and set it so that the first column is sorted with all cells that are highlighted in red on top
So now what we have is a list of Publications that have written about our competitors:
What can you do with this? A lot. Here’s some ideas:
- Find out the writer for each article and message them asking for coverage for YOUR festival.
- Reach out to the popular blogs on the list and work with them on a promotion for your festival (you already know the readership is targeted if they are reading about your competitor!)
- Put all those URLs into Google Ads to run display ads on articles that talk about your competitor.
- Read and research their P.R. strategy — what is their positioning? How can you differentiate your festival in a way that is better? Are you more hip? More intimate? No overlapping sets? More focused on experience? Etc. Make your message different from what your competitor is saying.
How do you keep an eye on your competitors? What other reports are there? Leave a note in the comments below or email me.