Learn how the Greater Easton Development Partnership uses the power of text messages to foster a stronger sense of community.
When it comes to the events that Jared Mast and his team at the Greater Easton Development Partnership (GEDP) plan, it’s not always about increasing attendance. As the Executive Director, he believes it’s also about enhancing experiences.
GEDP is a volunteer-driven NPO focused on Easton Pennsylvania’s economic well-being, historical integrity, programmatic development, and vibrant culture. Throughout the year they host dozens of events that bring together locals, students, and small businesses alike.
As many nonprofits know, event management is all about juggling. Vendors, volunteers, media, and most importantly, attendees.
We connected with Jared to see how he uses texting to manage all these variables and make sure each event is a success.
Creating Community Spaces With SMS
Jared originally sought out a text marketing solution because he wanted a better way to get in front of folks on a more regular basis. Because GEDP works with so many different groups, he decided to set up keywords for his different audiences.
A keyword is a short word or phrase that your customers can text to a 10-digit number or short code. When they do, they’re signing up for future SMS marketing campaigns and messages from your organization.
With events being one of GEDP’s biggest areas of focus, the obvious first place to start was to target attendees. He set up the keyword ‘eastonevents’ and advertised it everywhere.
From posters, social media channels, and table tents at the Easton Public Market, to email campaigns and digital displays. “We sprinkle the short code and keyword in with all of our marketing channels to help get people to sign up,” notes Jared.
This marketing blitz gradually resulted in hundreds of new subscribed eager to receive updates. But as the GEDP’s biggest event of the year, PA Bacon Fest, drew closer, GEDP decided to take it a step further.
Makin’ PA Bacon Fest Great With In-Event SMS
PA Bacon Fest is GEDP’s biggest event of the year for two reasons. First, it brings in the largest crowd across its two-day span. Secondly, it covers a lot of ground. Similar to a county fair, there’s a lot to do at PA Bacon Fest—hog calling, rock climbing, and bacon eating contests to name a few.
For that reason, GEDP decided to set up a dedicated keyword for just the event to ensure attendees got the most out of their experience.
“It’s a big event and people can lose track of what’s happening,” notes Jared. “So we sent out updates throughout the day when a certain event was happening from a band starting to a hog calling contest, just to call them out, because if you’re in a different area you could miss them.”
With flexible pricing plans, Jared and his team were able to scale their message volume up to account for the surge of attendees before it was back to business as usual.
Building Texting Cohorts
Jared’s bacon fest-specific keyword gave him the idea to create more keywords to address all the different audiences GEDP caters to. That way, people can subscribe to a channel that deals with the information they’re most interested in.
This type of audience-specific segmenting became a steadfast part of GEDP’s overall SMS strategy. In addition to their event-specific keywords, GEDP now has keywords specific to their local college network and small business partners.
“We recently created the small business group because we have all kinds of small businesses’ that say they can’t keep track of what we’re doing and that email is too hard to manage. So we wanted to be able to reach out to them directly via text.”
Of all the things Jared likes about this kind of audience-specific communication, he noted that it was the automation of joining that stood out the most.
Not only does his team save time and avoid manual data entry, but they no longer waste resources communicating with people who won’t attend their events or who don’t want to receive their updates.
Future Plans For SMS Marketing Within GEDP
For now, GEDP plans to continue to grow their keyword advertising around the community in the hopes he captures more attention (and more phone numbers). He and his team plan to continue to create segments, perhaps for businesses in different neighborhoods.
With a mission to create and preserve community, it’s important that GEDP is able to do this through SMS alongside other outreach.
“People are receiving information of all kinds all the time. So we thought text messaging would be good for both the repeat customers but also the folks who came here once and want to come back.”
We’re excited to watch GEDP continue to foster a strong sense of community through their awesome events, and killer text campaigns! If you’re a nonprofit who’s interested in text marketing, we offer a 15% discount on all monthly plans.
Sign up for a free trial and see what the buzz is all about!