Orlando’s Taste of the Nation event is a tantalizing foodie’s dream come true. This annual fundraiser, comprised of 35 restaurants, is on a mission to raise money as they work together to strike out childhood hunger.

This massive cause, supporting a varied crowd of participants, requires strategic event marketing coordination that maximizes both the number of attendants and long term donation pledges.

In preparation of marketing the event I have identified a strategic plan that builds momentum from one social platform to the next. Each tool was chosen for it’s ability to identify and interact with the niche audience currently looking to participate in this type of event.

For that reason I would concentrate on the following three social channels to promote the event. Before we dive in I would like to preface that I have no affiliation with Taste of the Nation; just a grad student having fun with this week’s assignment.

1. Recommended Marketing Platforms.

4 months before the event, start a marketing campaign with Foursquare/Swarm

“Our phones should learn about us – our tastes, our social connections, and our preferences. And, using what they know, they should help us better explore the world around us…We built the all new foursquare to realize this vision.” –DFJvc

For that reason I have chosen this channel to strategically spread a branding message in line with this events offerings; clearly foodies are already using this platform. Now we just have to find the ones in the vicinity of the event and begin community building in classic “Thank You Economy” format. We can then use foursquare’s analytics to re-target a look-alike audience on Facebook.

Foursquare ads could start running as early as April and continue through June to find new, passionate, foodies already looking for trending events. Once the interest is built, each restaurant can create challenges that offer exclusive “swarm” deals such as coupons, free drinks, appetizers; or any other creative ideas you can come up with. When they leave with their “doggie bag” each product will have a catchy message and the QR code that alerts visitors of the event with a powerful message that also links to the registration landing page. More about this in another step.

Creating challenges builds communities!

The Swarm function allows users to identify friends who are in close proximity of their physical location. So, coordinating “swarm parties” for this kind of networking is actually the function that users are already hoping to partake in. Participating restaurants can then use this desire to coordinate meet ups with friends to “swarm” a location that is recommended based on data discovered in foursquare food preferences.

“Targeting with swarm reveals re-targeting abilities based on interest and audience segments; allowing marketers to use the data to run ads across Facebook.” –by DFJvc

Migrate to Facebook Ads

April through June’s community building marketing campaign on Foursquare will populate some rather pointed analytics allowing us to run highly targeted Facebook ads. “According to a recent report from content marketing hub Shareaholic, social media is now responsible for driving the largest share of overall traffic to websites” –B2C; specifically Facebook.

For that reason alone it would be a mistake not to use this function in the buildup around the event. Now that we have discover who the target customers are and what (food) jargon motivates them, we can use it to create an engaging ad that funnels to the registration page/landing page.

Make some noise with Thunder Clap

A crowd sourcing platform used to amplify the message of any cause. To rise above the clutter use this crowd speaking tool to share your message of change to make #NOkidHungry present on a large scale.


This platform is built to help organizations speak up about causes they believe in and allows backers to help amplify the intended message. The tool is the most powerful way to get the message of this cause out in a meaningful way that inspires others to action through its social proofing properties.

A page is easy to set up and really only requires you to include a video or write a description, link to registration page, chose a # of backers you wish to reach and the release date. Once the goal is met the message is blasted out across the social accounts of those who signed up. The message is then blasted out in unison across the web. It’s viral-ability in its most valuable form.

The analytics in the platform then allow you to build up a base of supporters that can be contacted in the future; to make your next event even bigger.

2. Partner up in a mass marketing campaign.

“There’s safety in numbers” is a nice thought, but “There’s power in numbers” is a bit more accurate!

Here are two ideas to further the marketing campaign in a more traditional format that still packs a powerful punch!

Email Campaign

Since email is still a powerful sales converter of customers in a relationship with the restaurants I would suggest a cohesive email campaign to be sent to current lead lists of all 35 event participants. This is an effective way for current restaurant advocates to join in spreading the message of the August event. A total of 5 emails can be sent with the same overall message, and landing registration page; written and branded for each individual restaurant.

That way each step of the overall event campaign will also get loyal supporters to act as “sneezers”; spreading the word. Depending on results, this will eliminate the amount that will need to be spent in overall advertising.

Printed Packaging

Decorate those doggies bags! Use a QR printed on “special edition” take out boxes for all 35 restaurants for the month of July. Each code will lead to the same video and landing page that tells a story and has mobile friendly compatibility to easily register and/or donate right from the landing page.

The QR code should present an overall video message of local kid’s struggles. It should be emotional and inspire viewers to take action.

Fortunately, I found a great one on the YouTube page:


At this point participating restaurants can bring the campaign full circle and include prompts to sign up on foursquare for exclusive savings for “members” leading up to the event.

Here’s an example of Chipotles trendy packaging idea; built around “cultivating thought.”

Before you get started speed-racer, first check out the reasons why QR Code Campaigns Fail.

3. Track. Track. Track.

Every marketing campaign requires tracking. How else will you know what works and what doesn’t?

Track the landing page

Track conversions (registrations)

Track QR code plays

Track Thunderclap analytics

Track foursquare check-ins

Track Swarm badges

Track email opens

All of these not only help determine the ROI of this campaign, but most importantly offers valuable insight on followers; boosting engagement that leads to lasting connections.

People don’t buy from a brand, they buy from people they like and feel they can connect with.