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Promoting Your Car Show

Promoting your car show or auto event in the community is fundamental to its success! There are many different ways to advertise and promote your show, and in this article, we will explain a few basic marketing ideas and principles. We hope you will be able to build upon the information presented here to devise your own unique marketing plan.

Determine the Specifics of Your Event

Before you can effectively promote your show, and devise an effective marketing campaign, you need to be absolutely certain about the event's specifics. These specifics include, but aren't limited to, the following:

Aerial view of a car show

An aerial view of a car show.

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Judging Categories
  • Registration Process, Fees and Deadlines
  • Fundraising Beneficiary (if applicable)
  • Activities (if applicable)
  • Food Options (if applicable)
  • Sponsors (if applicable)
  • Entertainment Schedule (if applicable)

Once this basic information is finalized, you can begin brainstorming ways to spread the word to local car owners and auto enthusiasts.

Begin Promoting Early

It is important to remember that promoting your event, and generating awareness in the community, takes a great deal of time and effort. This is especially true if it is a brand-new show - or if you host your event during an especially busy season (think county fairs and fall craft festivals), when you'll be "competing" for attendees.

We recommend that you start marketing your show two to three months in advance. That means you'll need to begin planning your campaign, and designing marketing pieces, approximately four to six months before the date of your show. The next section of this article will guide you through the process of creating a marketing campaign, and it explains a few basic promotional strategies that you may want to consider utilizing.

Planning Your Campaign

Print Pieces

ANPAC Car Show for Kids Postcard

ANPAC Car Show for Kids

The first step in any car show marketing campaign should be the creation of a series of print pieces, which can include fliers, brochures, posters, postcards, magnets and more. You'll want to pick the pieces that make the most sense for your budget and your promotional goals. Print pieces are portable, relatively inexpensive to produce and easily displayed. Such pieces allow you to offer a tangible reminder of your event to interested parties, which is important if you are promoting several months in advance.

To create a professional product, these printed items are best developed using the latest graphic design or publishing software. If you don't know anyone who can help you with the layout, you might see if a local graphic designer would be willing to donate their services in return for being promoted as an event sponsor. The same goes for paper and printing companies. You can offer to incorporate company logos in your print pieces, or offer other such "sponsor incentives," in exchange for free or low-cost products and services.

Reaching Your Target Markets

It is extremely important that you take the time to promote your event to local auto enthusiasts, particularly through clubs and local auto-related businesses.

Research local car clubs in your area and put together a packet of information for each of them. Include an invitation letter, a flier and a registration form that they can copy for each of their members attending. You can either mail the packets or arrange to present the details of the show at a meeting. Also, encourage clubs to add your show to their yearly calendar, so individual members can still attend even if the club does not.

Local dealerships, auto body shops and restoration shops can also be useful in promoting your show to the local collector car community. Take your print pieces to these local businesses, discuss the show with the staff so that they can relay the information to clients and request that they display your marketing pieces.

Online Calendars

If you want free promotion for your event, look no further than online event calendars, particularly car show-exclusive calendars. You would be amazed at the number of owners who rely on online show databases to help them pick the events they will attend.

To find calendars dedicated to car shows, use Google. Search terms like "online car show calendars" and "free car show calendars" will return many different sites where you can list your event for free.

We also encourage you to list your show on local, city- or region-specific event calendars. You can search Google for local calendars with terms like "(city name) calendar of events" or "(city name) online event calendar." Don't forget that Craigslist also offers an "events" section where you can post the details of your show.

Social Media

Social Media

Social Media

Another free way to promote your show is to set up a Facebook page for your event. To help promote your Facebook presence, be sure that you include the Facebook icon on your print pieces.

To help generate awareness of your page, send invitations to "like" your page to your own friends and family. In an ideal world, if your friends/family "like" the page to help support the show, the interest of those in their networks will be piqued - and you'll see an increase in the number of "fans."

To help generate excitement about your event, and engagement from your "fans," post regular updates about your planning progress. Topics might include new sponsors, sneak peeks of your trophies or awards, activities you are planning, etc. You'll also want to create a Facebook event with the details of your show - and invite "fans" and friends/family to "RSVP."

Local Media

Depending on the size of your city, local media outlets might be willing to help you publicize your event. Write a short press release before the show and distribute it to local reporters and news anchors. Offer to help arrange interviews with show organizers or representatives from the organization(s) benefiting from the show's proceeds (if applicable). Pitch unique stories about the planning process or the cars that will be attending - think about the aspects of your show that would be interesting to readers and viewers. That will help to increase your odds of receiving coverage.

Your local radio station, newspaper, magazine or television station might also be willing to run PSAs in return for publicity in your marketing campaign. Before pitching a PSA sponsorship, though, be aware that you will likely be required to follow stringent graphic and/or video design specifications. You'll need to be sure that you can meet the requirements - either through knowledge within your planning committee or by consulting with a professional designer.

Local Businesses

Local businesses generally enjoy the opportunity to help support events in their town. Talk to owners to see if you can display posters or fliers at their businesses to help promote your show in the community. Businesses may also be willing to donate small gifts (branded pens, pencils, product samples, fliers, stickers, magnets, etc.) that can be used to create gift bags for car owners or participants. Not only are these promotional items great advertising for local businesses, they also help to make your show participants feel appreciated and welcome.


Building a website for your show is also a great promotional tool. That way, those interested in attending can find all relevant information in one place. While social media pages are great, they don't allow for much customization. If you have the means or resources to build a website specific to your event, we highly encourage you to do so. Offer visitors elements like the details of your show, electronic registration forms, online registration, a schedule of events, a list of sponsors, FAQs, etc.

While car show promotion probably sounds like a daunting task after reading this article, keep in mind that these are just suggestions. You need to consider your specific goals and resources when putting together a promotional strategy for your event. Each and every show is different.