No Cost Cat Show Advertising in the Age of Social Media

We are all aware that cat shows are expensive to produce and make money. Show hall costs, cages, judges, and supply costs are constantly rising. One of the largest revenue streams besides entries is gate. For a club to be successful they need to attract a gate. Who is your gate, where are they, and how do you reach them? Understanding these questions will make your show a success.

Many clubs cannot afford the rising costs of advertising. Here's the good news, you don't have to spend a penny to attract gate and have a successful show. We are all connected to the internet and are on Facebook. Facebook is a great, free tool to reach thousands in your target area.

You will have to know how to write a Press Release. A Press Release is a statement distributed to the media to generate press coverage of specific news. A good Press Release starts with a headline, includes specific details in the body, and is finished with contact information. It runs 100 to 300 words. If written correctly, it is a fantastic tool to gain brand visibility and we all have a unique tool to attract attention: a cute kitten or cat picture. The Press Release can be used in all free social media. There are many examples and templates available online, just Google free press releases.

Here are the ways you can reach thousands of people without spending precious show money.
    1. Facebook Group pages
    2. Online Calendars
    3. Radio Public Service Announcements
    4. Local newspapers
    5. Signs
    6. Television
    7. Email lists

1. Facebook Group pages: Step one is identifying the geographic area that you want to target. Once you know where your gate is, step 2 is contacting them on Facebook with a short, concise attractive, eye catching Press Release. From your Facebook Homepage, look at the top for "Search" on the blue line. That is your gateway to reaching thousands of people, simply type in a name or group to go to that page, obviously, group pages are best because they may have thousands of members.
Here are some of the key words to type in the search bar along with your target city or area: I Love (your city's name), Totally (your city's name), My Kind of Town (your city's name), What's Going on in (your city's name), Events In (your city's name), Friends of (your city's name). You can also type in your city and see what turns up. There are many Facebook groups in and around your area to contact. It will take time, but It will pay off. Facebook Groups can have as little as a few members to many thousands. Facebook Group Press Releases are simple, easy to use and deliver your message.
The first Facebook Group press release goes out 45 days before the show date and follow that up with a different press release every week after that. Each press release will obviously contain the same basic information but differ in style, cat pictures and video. The more interesting and eye catching the better.

2. Online Calendars: Many local newspapers and magazines have an online website. Just go to their website, see if they have a calendar, and if they do, type in your show information, and many of these websites will allow you to post one or more pictures. This is a good opportunity to use pictures of club member's cats, new breeds or exotic looking cats.

3. Radio Public Service Announcements: This is one of the easiest ways to reach your target audience. Every town has a radio station, some have more than one. Contact the station manager and send or email them a Press Release and ask them to use it as a Public Service Announcement (PSA). Here is a chance to get creative. Ask the station manager if they can have a cat trivia contest and offer free passes to the winners. This is a good way to create interest and encourage the station manager to work with you.

4. Local Newspapers: Newspaper advertising is costly. You need to be creative and try something different to get in the paper. Our club invites a local animal rescue group and when we contact the newspaper with a "contributed article" we write about the rescue cats that will be at the show and available for adoption. It is also a good idea to send the news editor a couple of free passes so he/she can come to the show and see first hand what a cat show is and hopefully do something for you the following year.

5. Signs: We make 8.5 by 11 inch color show flyers on the computer and bring them to local hair dressers, barbers, veterinarians, restaurants, food marts, and ask to have them to hang them up. The more flyers you hang up the more people will see them.

6. Television: Television advertising is very expensive but you can still appear on TV with your cats. Contact the local station morning shows. Look online for the executive producers of these shows and email them that you would like to appear with your cat(s) and talk about the cats and the show. Remember, it doesn't cost you anything to try. We have appeared on TV the last 4years at no cost because we asked. TV shows often need short fillers and cat show information is the answer. Sometimes, for whatever reason, sponsors pay for time but are unable to appear. We fill in.

7. email lists: Keep a sign in book at the front gate where you collect admission. You can use a "wedding sign in book" for this. Have a sign by the book asking people to leave their email addresses and that you will contact them via email with information about your next cat show. You also can send them a $ 1.00 discount on the same mailing. If questions may arise as to what you will do with the email addresses, just say the addresses will only be used by the club to send out yearly reminders. Transfer the email addresses from the "sign in book" to your computer and you will have an ever growing list to invite every year to your shows.

Cat show social media advertising as listed above is a lot of work but will add to your gate. Remember, there is no cost to any of the above.

Good luck with your TICA Show and we hope we have helped you make it more successful.

Written by Michael Rothfeld

Member and Treasurer of Empire Cat Club in New York City, 1980 to 2000.
Was show manager of cat shows at Madison Square Garden, Jacob Javits Convention Center, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Passenger Ship Terminal, and on Staten Island at several large colleges.
Treasurer and Club Member Ancient City Cat Club, St. Augustine, FL 2015 to 2019.

People Bio: 35 years High School Special Education Teacher for Emotionally Disturbed Teenagers in a Brooklyn High School.
Producer of Five documentaries all broadcast on WJCT TV, the PBS affiliate in Jacksonville, FL and located in museums, colleges, and libraries in several states.


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