This installment of “Summer of Niche’” is from Heather Dowdy of Nashville Paw magazine.
Her great idea? Get creative in finding a new way to serve a niche to get the most bang for your buck with events. It’s a win for the readership AND the magazine.
Heather launched Nashville Paw magazine in 2006 with about 5,000 copies. Seven years later, they now print 23,000 and, combined with their online readership, serve more than 50,000 pet lovers across Middle Tennessee. Heather credits their fabulous events with much of Nashville Paw’s success!
“I realized early on that in order to really be an active part of the Nashville community,” Heather told us. “I wanted to create fun and unique events for pet lovers and their pet pals, offering our readers a fun way to network and meet one another through our platform. What I did not realize then was that these events would also prove vital to the financial success of the magazine.“
“Our annual Barktoberfest is a “Howl-O-Ween” costume festival for dogs and their people. It is free to attend – ROI comes from vendor space and costume contest entries. I started the event as a small patio event with 45 people and it broke even. Last year, our 4th annual festival welcomed more than 3,000 guests and had 50 vendors, live music, and food trucks. We gave out over $3,000 in costume contest prizes with a healthy profit left over for the magazine! This year, we have a Convention & Visitors Bureau on board promoting, we have moved to an even larger venue, and we anticipate a crowd of 6,000+ attendees and will have craft beer available for the first time as a new revenue stream. Our goal is to make this an event that supports our magazine throughout the year.”
One of the secrets to this events success is that Heather found an un-served niche – there were lots of dog events in town, but nothing for Halloween. Barktoberfest offered something unique to the community. Heather also got creative with vendors to offer something different – instead of just the standard pet supply and service companies, she invited party-based companies like Pampered Chef – they loved the chance to sell to a larger audience, and guests loved a broader array of vendors, some of which they normally wouldn’t have access to! This win-win mean participants and vendors come back year after year.
Nashville Paw doesn’t settle for just one event or just one revenue model, though. “Our second annual Cover Dog Search contest and event just welcomed 121 canine contestants on May 11th, and our annual Canine Summer Splash (which offers the chance to bring your dogs to swim at the YMCA outdoor pool) welcomed more than 250 dogs with their families last year. There’s no room for vendors, so we charge admission. The YMCA was reluctant to try the event, but after two successful years (last year we welcomed 220 dogs and gained tons of news coverage), they are thrilled to be hosting something the community is so hungry for.”
With each year Heather and her team have found more revenue streams to incorporate into the event and find ways to attract more people. In just 5 years this publication has transformed its break-even, labor of love events into profit powerhouses for the publication that readers and the community absolutely love. “The events have literally saved the magazine,” says Heather. “Unlike many magazines, I did not begin with any seed money or loans, and I wear many of the hats. When the economy fell many advertisers had to jump ship, but folks still wanted to come to our events. As ad sales plummeted, our event profits actually soared!”
“In a nutshell:” Healther tells us, ” find a unique, fresh and fun angle on your event, something that no one else is doing, and the community will flock to it. Here’s to happy and successful events!”
About this blogger: Diana Landau is Content Wrangler of Niche Media. A former corporate marketing hack, she has now found nirvana in writing and wrangling quality content. Diana is a food, wine, art and SF Giants enthusiast who sometimes gets carried away.
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com Check it out!