Lessons From our Most Successful Festival Partners

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Nothing like a (distance) walk with a friend on a beautiful spring evening to cheer one up. This virus certainly comes with ups and downs. One day I’m ready to conquer the world; the next I’m questioning all my choices. It feels normal with the extreme level of uncertainty. And I have it good. I feel blessed with family, creativity, a team and a purpose. But I am definitely still having these “what’s it all for” moments.

I want to help. I hope I can, and I think we are — a little bit. At the very least, we’re facilitating good experiences for small groups.

The highlight of my day was meeting with representatives from our top 5 Film Festival Day festivals. We wanted to ask them what they did to draw guests.

The answer was clear — a resounding “relationships”.

The logistics and methods were simple — email and social media.

But the real answers were:

We are in a season of care and relationships. The businesses who will thrive are the ones who have already built, or who will build, businesses based on relationships.

We interviewed these festivals because we wanted to offer tips to future partners. The main theme is that these leaders think first about their patrons. They are careful with messaging — taking care not to overwhelm their audience with “asks” and being sure to offer an enjoyable event which also gives an opportunity to support the festival.

We heard things like:

  • “They trust us to curate content that is a good fit.”
  • “For 20 years, I have committed to responding within hours to my patrons. I take notes to remember their first names and details about them.”
  • “We monitor the flow of information so we’re consistent but do not overwhelm the inboxes of our guests.”
  • “They’ve been asking about me and how I’m doing. They are committed to us surviving and are looking for ways to support me and the festival.”
  • “We appreciated the pricing as it was accessible to guests who may be struggling but still want to support us.”
  • “We liked having the streaming available on a specific day to give our guests structure and help them remember.”
  • “They are getting streaming fatigue, so it was important to make it easy and clear.”

While offering technical specifics of how they ran their campaigns (email, social media), each curator kept circling back to talk about their audience. Their comments were audience-focused — how they could best support their audience while giving them an enjoyable and easy way to support the festival.

We are all tired.

I have moments of wanting to lash out. I get frustrated and disappointed.

Nothing is as expected or hoped.

It is unavoidable to still feel grief, even in the midst of goodness.

Thankfully, in moments like this morning, hearing how much people sincerely care about one another, I feel uplifted and am hopeful. It is getting me through. This and sweet conversations with friends.

♡ Annie


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