How One Sweet Festival is Reaching Thousands of Dessert-Loving Foodies

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By Carson Whitlock

When I was younger, I had a passion: sugary sweets. Growing up in the Southern Californian desert with one of the nation’s largest producing date areas, resort-styled desserts, a nationally-renowned toffee factory, and Halloween nights filled with candy bartering between close friends and family, I was privileged to be around a lot of great sweets.

Baking when I was younger (left). I don’t bake as much now that I have all these great desserts and sweets vendors to try out!

Baking when I was younger (left). I don’t bake as much now that I have all these great desserts and sweets vendors to try out!

With such great roots, and now living in Utah and seeing all the different dessert artisans and entrepreneurs here, I realized that there must be something greater than just trying out all the different places every time I went on a date. There was something more to it all than merely dessert shops vying for coupon space on an annual calendar that my roommates and I hung on our fridge. I thought there must be some sort of event that brought all these fantastic products, people, and their stories together to showcase something that made Utah’s food culture stand out from others. In all my time looking at other events, all I saw were specialized chocolate, or donut, or keto conferences that had elements of these various dessert places, but never celebrating the industry as a whole.

The birth of One Sweet Festival

During the summer of 2018, I was hired by a marketing firm that focused on sports and political clients. The state’s professional rugby team, and the largest Utah rodeo, were two clients I spent the most time with, helping them market and build great events. While the rodeo had been around for 175+ years, the rugby team had just started its inaugural season. Working side by side with these two clients helped me to catch the entrepreneurial spirit as well as see how a larger event ran itself, dealt with vendors, and convinced sponsors to participate. With this perfect match, when the idea came to run my own event, the decision was not hard. I felt like I had enough basic experience to proceed further. That’s when One Sweet Festival, Utah’s premier dessert/sweets festival, was born.

Balancing the two types of event experiences

While working with the marketing firm, I realized the importance of two types event experiences: the experience a business has when it participates and the guests’ experience. Many other events I had attended focused on either one or the other, with the exception of a few. The events were either too business-focused, or they just tried making everything free for guests to where businesses were better off not attending the event as opposed to remaining involved. This seemed wrong to think that most events needed to focus on one side rather than trying to find the relationship between both. My belief is that if you can create a great experience for both parties, then that is what strengthens communities more quickly and where you will find greater success.

With One Sweet Festival, my goal is to establish these two types of experiences simultaneously. For vendors, we want to make this a great marketing event where they are more intertwined with the festival’s narrative and make money to sustain their businesses. For guests, we want to provide opportunities to discover, support, and enjoy different businesses and activities. So far, the response from both parties has been great. The festival’s goal is to have 5,000 guests attend in the first year with more than thirty dessert and sweets-specific vendors ready to sell and interact with these guests. My team has been working earnestly to intertwine the guest experience with the vendors’ experiences so that each feels like they are contributing to something greater than just the transaction around a cookie, brownie, or slice of cake.

Involving relevant industries

We have also been working with a local culinary program to use the event as a platform for their students to learn more about the industry, what the market is like, how to deal with customers, raise revenue, and inspiration for their own future creations. For their involvement, we will be setting up a scholarship for a student who wins our taste-off competition that will be put to the higher level culinary school of their choice.

The influencer marketing hustle

In terms of marketing, we know that desserts naturally get Utahns excited. Even with that natural instinct, we have plans to promote and brand the festival to the immediate area’s citizens. With our social media, we have focused on highlighting local foodies who are already contributing to the Utah food scene. We work with a lot of micro-influencers to get their ideas on what they would like to see at the festival and how they got started promoting restaurants and other food products. With their highlights on our pages, we have personalized our social media marketing so that guests can see all those who are excited about coming. Inspiring these foodies with my ideas has also been an enjoyable experience, as many have been invested in sharing their ideas to make the event more successful.

While we are still in the earlier stages of the event, our personalized social media that promotes businesses and our attendees has built a community that I know will grow and be strengthened in time for the festival the first week of September. Follow us on our Instagram account @onesweetfestival or on Facebook to see the exciting things that are happening as we grow and continue to engage in the community.

Learn about Social Media Marketing from these Podcasts

Listening to podcasts on social media marketing. Apiarity

By Stephanie Leishman

Learning from others’ experiences and perspectives is one great method of obtaining knowledge. It’s helpful, as a marketer, to hear what other marketers are trying and what experiments have failed or succeeded for them. Then, when you do undergo your own marketing experiments, you have at least an idea of what might happen, some warnings, and even some plans to iterate on others’ experiments.

This type of learning—learning from others’ experiences—can be obtained through interviews, discussions, books, attending conferences, and more. One favorite medium is audible material, such as audio books and podcasts. You can do menial tasks (like washing dishes) while listening to a podcast.


Here is a list of podcasts I’ve found that have some helpful content related to social media marketing. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have more to add, comment on this post!

General social media or online marketing:

Social Media Marketing by Michael Stelzner (social media marketing)

Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield (online marketing)

Social Media Lab by Agorapulse (results of social media experiments)

Swipe Up (influencer marketing)

The Science of Social Media by Buffer (social media marketing)

SocialPros by Convince and Convert (online marketing)

Instagram:

Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher (Instagram)

Hashtag Authentic (Instagram)

Twitter:

Character Count by Twitter (Twitter)

YouTube:

TubeTalk by VidIQ (YouTube)

YouTube Creators Hub by Dusty Porter (YouTube)

Video Marketing Madness (YouTube)


There are also many podcasts that aren’t solely about social media marketing, but have single episodes about topics that are helpful for social media marketers. For example:

“The Past, Present, and Future of Facebook Advertising with Dennis Yu” by Marketing Speak (on Facebook advertising)

“How Michael Stelzner Grew Social Media Examiner WITHOUT Paid Traffic” by Perpetual Traffic Podcast (turning readers into customers)

Also, on the podcast Positive Feedback Loop, my co-hosts and I have discussed different aspects of digital marketing in episodes such as:

“The Power of Influencers” by Positive Feedback Loop (on influencer marketing)

“Public Apologies” by Positive Feedback Loop (on PR crises)


What podcasts are you listening to, and which episodes are your favorites? Share your favorites in the comments!

Use Batching to Be a More Efficient Content Creator

"batch"

Today's tip is called "batching" (as in, the verb "to batch").

Identify repeating content types

In order to "batch" content, you will first need to identify buckets, or types, of content that you might repeat (or have repeated in the past). For example, you often share recipes that involve new kitchen products you're selling. Or you have identified that to get people to your website, you want to share links to your blog posts. Yes, you have content that breaks the mold as well and gives surprises here and there, but today, we're focused on the "buckets" or types of content that recur to help you meet specific goals. 

What is batching?

"Batching" is the act of creating one "batch" of content at a time, meaning one group of content that is of the same type. In manufacturing, batch production allows a company to make many products on one machine, rather than buying several machines that run continuously. With cookies, for example, you can make all your chocolate chip cookies first, then move on to macadamia cookies, then oatmeal. The idea is to do a whole set at once.

How to batch effectively

In your social media content marketing efforts, consider your "buckets". Perhaps you've identified recipes, tips for kitchen tool maintenance, and spotlights of new products. Instead of creating Monday's recipe post, then the next day's product spotlight, then Wednesday's maintenance tip, then starting over with a recipe again, try batching. This means creating all of your recipe posts at once ahead of time as a batch so that then you have a few months of your Monday posts already done. Then move on to the next type of post and create multiple of that type of post in one sitting. 

Batching is a more efficient use of time because it creates less of a cognitive load. When you switch from one task to another, your mind has to acclimate to the new task, or "get in the groove." You will likely be slower the first time you do a task than the fifth time you do it in one sitting, even if it's a task you perform often. Once you "get in the groove," you are more efficient at the later iterations of the task. So it is with content creation. Reduce the number of times you have to switch from one task to another by doing many of one type of content in a series.

You can't do this with in-the-moment, live, or other unique posts, but at least with your repeating content you will become more efficient. For example, with an Instagram series, I created all of my "universe" images in one day (the stars and galaxies you've seen throughout the series). For me, this reduced the cognitive time and energy it would have otherwise taken to switch from one task to another. I became more efficient and reserved more time to spend on the serendipitous engagement with my community. 

Create a Simple Content Calendar

Apiarity Content Calendar

It's time for our Content Calendar exercise. You're going to need an actual calendar (physical or digital) or a 7x4 grid on a blank piece of paper. 🗓🗝

Alright. Lots of "social media gurus" talk about content calendaring and yes it is critical that you do this. Critical to your success, but also to your peace of mind.

Remember that list of types of content you made yesterday? Today, we're going to use that list. 📋

1. Consistency

Consistency is something that brings calm to your community. You can build in some consistency. So, take one content type that's going to help you reach your monthly goal (sales goal, signups goal, whatever your goal is—remember, it should be quantifiable). Now assign it to a day or multiple days on your calendar. For example, you decide every Tuesday and Thursday you'll publish posts about new inventory. 📅

2. Repeat

Go through this process again with another content type. Perhaps every other Monday you'll link to a blog post that will be published on your website. ⏰

3. Is it realistic?

Ask yourself if your calendar is realistic. Can you publish a social media post on each of those days? If you decided you want to publish a live video every Monday, do you have the time to do live video every Monday? If you have images you want to publish every day, but don't have the time every day to do so, consider using third-party software that will let you schedule ahead. 💻

Reduce Your Stress By Planning Ahead

Apiarity - Plan

By Stephanie Leishman

It feels so good to plan ahead. For example, I planned a month-long marketing strategy series for Instagram ahead of time, so publishing each post is a dream. I already know what is being published each day. It's great! I also did this with a friend last week who knows what content she needs each day, lessening the stress in her life. 

I shared two simple steps on Instagram for how to plan ahead.

1. What will you create?

Take your list of content and think of what you need to do to create that content.

Do you need images? Are you going to create those images or find stock images? (Please do not just take images off the Internet—that is usually a really bad idea unless they are public domain, licensed for your use, you paid for them, or you got permission.)

Also, do you need to write captions, and how detailed do those captions need to be? 

2. When will you create?

Plan on your calendar when you are going to have the time to create this content. It's that simple. If you don't figure out when you physically can make this happen, then you need to pay someone to make it happen. 

Planning ahead in simple ways like this takes a lot of the stress out of your work. Imagine if you are starting each day thinking about what to do, then writing and creating it, then getting it out there.

In your business, do you start each day trying to decide what to sell, then go out and buy it, then get back in time to put it on the shelves, price it, and sell it? Uh, no. That is ridiculous. You start the month, or the week (depending on the business) with a plan for what you want to sell, what has been selling well, how much to buy, when to put it on the shelves, etc. Why would you do any differently with social media content? Yes, there are times when something surprising comes up and you want to post about it, like an award or a trend, but living day to day not knowing what's going on with your social media... that's a lot of stress.

What methods do you use for planning ahead and reducing the stress in your life related to marketing activities?