Keith Austin: On the road with mobile campaigning

Going on tour to meet people face-to-face is a great way to promote your charity's profile and campaigns, says the managing director of Event Marketing Solutions

With public giving falling and demand for charity services increasing, it has never been more important to make your organisation stand out. Taking your message on the move in the form of a roadshow that offers a face-to-face experience is the perfect way to raise your charity's profile.

According to research by the London Business School in 2005, 60 per cent of UK consumers are able to recall a brand they have actually experienced, compared with only 30 per cent of those who have seen it in newspapers and 23 per cent of those who have seen it on television.

As well as increasing your profile, roadshows can raise awareness of an issue or extend the reach of your service by taking it directly to your clients. They also deliver measureable results - the number of visitors and the amount of literature distributed can easily be recorded, and you can get detailed feedback through opinion polling. The modern roadshow offers a sophisticated, hi-tech experience - a far cry from the basic trailers that were once commonly used.

In a six-week British Heart Foundation roadshow this summer, 735 free heart-risk assessments were carried out on board a branded mobile vehicle and more than 16,000 healthy eating leaflets and booklets were distributed to shoppers. Forty-three per cent of visitors said they would eat more healthily as a result of attending.

By taking its roadshow vehicle to four Mela cultural festivals this year, Diabetes UK tested 842 people from the UK's south Asian community for type 2 diabetes. This community is at a higher risk of developing the condition. More than 5,000 pieces of literature were given out.

In a seven-year UK campaign for Macmillan Cancer Support (2001 to 2007), 39,812 people affected by cancer were reached, about 40 per cent of them men - twice the proportion that typically visit the charity's information and support centres.

When planning a roadshow, be clear about your objectives: do you want to raise awareness of your organisation, generate funds or campaign on an issue? Is the quantity of visitors engaged more important to you than their quality?

Understand your target audience: where will you find them and what will attract them to your vehicle? The British Heart Foundation generated demand for its free checks by taking its roadshow to supermarkets. Similarly, the Diabetes UK Mela campaign put its roadshow at the heart of popular community events.

Finally, make sure you find the right service provider. An experienced partner will save you money, increase your impact and help you overcome logistical challenges.

- Keith Austin is managing director of Event Marketing Solutions.

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