Guide to Planning a School Carnival: Marketing Edition
What is the best way to spread the word about a school carnival or festival?
For your carnival to be a big success, you have to take a multi-faceted approach to getting the word out. The three main communication channels are:
Print Marketing – Flyers, Banners and Posters to Promote a School Carnival or Festival
There is a basic marketing principle that you have to “touch” your target customer a minimum of 7 times before someone will remember and act. Displaying banners & posters all over the school is a great way to get those touches. Start putting these out about 2 months before the event, and plan to replace them as they fall down or get worn up until the week of the event. You can get the student council or other school clubs to help you make the signs. Or, if you have a bit of a budget, you can design one on Canva for free and then have them printed. If you design it for free, you could also ask to print it at school on a color printer. I’d definitely recommend hanging several banners where parents can see them as they go through the carpool line.
Posters can be placed in the cafeteria, gymnasium, library, by the office, entry & exit doors, and other prominent locations throughout the school. Just ask the school secretary about any rules pertaining to size and location. For instance, at my school, flyers can be taped to any glass, but not to the paint on the walls. Don’t be that mom who gets her flyers all pulled down ends up in the principal’s office! 😉
The other thing you need to have printed is a flyer to go home with every child. These should go out 2-4 weeks before the event. Again, Canva has some great templates to use. I especially like the one that looks like an admissions ticket.
Digital Marketing – Email, Social Media and Website Announcements to Promote a School Carnival or Festival
First, get all of the Websites updated with the event dates so you can remind parents every time the log on. This includes your schools website and calendar as well as the Booster Club or Parent Teacher Organization’s site. Some teachers also have classroom sites and may be willing to update with an announcement about a fun school event.
Most schools send out a weekly or monthly email to parents. Make sure the announcement about the carnival gets in those emails 2 months before the event and stays there until the day of the event. Most parents don’t read all of the emails; so, you have to make sure it is in all of the out-going communications so you can catch them when they do read it. You can also ask Homeroom Parents and Teachers to include details in their email communications.
Lastly, let’s talk social media. Most schools, booster clubs & PTOs have social media channels they use frequently. Request at least a weekly post for the month or two prior to the carnival. Also, most schools have parents that are part of a Facebook group for the local school or neighborhood. Ask the moderators/admins of that group if it would be okay to make occasional posts in that group. Make sure you have captivating photos as that is mostly what grabs peoples attention as they are scrolling through. Here is an example of one that got a great deal of attention at our last school event.
Live Marketing – Take Advantage of any Live Opportunities to Promote a School Carnival or Fair
There are numerous opportunities for promoting your event in person, but you just need to get a bit creative to avoid sounding like a broken record giving a sales pitch. At our school, it is not uncommon to include the school mascot during assemblies, and if you write up a cute little skit for some students to perform, it can be an entertaining and memorable way to encourage ticket purchases. We also enjoy utilizing the mascot as well as some fun-loving kids to decorate posters and get dressed up to dance around and make noise during car line drop off and pickup, drawing attention to the posters and banners sharing information about the event. Finally, if another event happens shortly before this one, don’t shy away from tagging along and pre-selling there. Our most successful carnival pre-sales occurred when we set up a little table outside the school book fair and sold wristbands to the upcoming carnival as parents were going in and out of the fair. Parents noted their appreciation at the ease of getting it checked off their list while they were already at school with credit cards in hand, and the carnival team was thrilled to have some funds come in to help cover deposit costs in advance of the big day!