No one person or organization can conquer addiction on their own. To be successful, both as a business and as an organization that fights addiction, treatment centers need to become leaders in their community. When we all work together, we make progress.
To this end, Circle Social, a leader in rehab and treatment center marketing, partnered with the local police department in Avon, Indiana, just west of Indianapolis, to raise awareness about opioids and other drugs while also raising funds for the police department itself to combat the issue. The result was the first ever Avon Officer Appreciation Day & Opioid Awareness Fundraiser.
Small Budget, Huge Impact
With just $137 in Facebook ad spend over 2 months, we raised over $2,500 for the PD, had over 80,000 impressions, had 300+ people attend the community event, got featured on two local media outlets and Fox News, and helped a number of people get into treatment.
All that with just $137 total spent in ads? You bet. That’s what happens when you build strong relationships in your community and work together to get things done. Let us tell you how we did it and hopefully you can use our guide to do something similar in your own community.
Getting the Right People Involved
First off, the key to raising community awareness is to engage community leaders. Since our CEO lives in Avon and is very involved there, this made things simple.
First, we sat down with the Chief of Police and discussed what we needed to do. Now, it’s important to mention here that we didn’t just choose opioids out of a hat. It’s a pressing community issue. If it’s not impacting your immediate family, you probably know someone who it is impacting, or, at the very least, you’ve heard about it on the news.
So we didn’t name the event “Drug Awareness Fundraiser,” we named it “Opioid Awareness Fundraiser.”
Next, we decided which community leaders would be best to engage. We wanted a strong cross-section from various areas to really reach everyone. To this end, we decided to engage with the judge presiding over the county drug court, a legislature from the state house, the county deputy prosecutor, the head of emergency services for the hospital, the director of a local outpatient, the direct of a community mental health center, the sheriff, an inmate, , the leader of the local Parents of Addicted Loved-Ones, a school teacher, and the director of a non-profit serving those struggling with addiction and homelessness.
These video interviews all focused on a different aspect of the opioid issue, helping raise awareness of the multi-faceted nature of the problem across the community. Throughout the campaign, and afterwards, many community members reached out to us to let us know just how useful they found it.
The outpatient center, Parents of Addicted Loved-ones, and one other therapy center received an influx of new patients and members after key interviews. So many people didn’t even know help existed in the community. It was extremely rewarding to see them find the help they needed through our efforts.
To view the interviews and videos, check out the Video Page for the Avon Police Department Facebook Page, posts from December through January. You’ll notice that these videos don’t have to be super professionally done with slick editing. In fact, the live aspect of them is part of what makes them so powerful. From running countless ad campaigns, we can tell you that more and more people are preferring real over polished.
Using the Right Medium
With community leaders chosen and participation confirmed, we then needed to decide how to get the word out. Our marketing budget was only $500. That’s not much for 2 months, but it turned out to be more than enough as we only had to use $137.
As a marketing agency, we knew direct mail and newspaper ads are ridiculously expensive and rather ineffective. Nobody was searching for this event, so Google Ads were out. The PD had no email list to speak of. That left Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Well, Twitter is not a good platform for short-term results. Instagram is OK, but Facebook is far better with its larger user base and strong video components.
So we decided to focus exclusively on Facebook. We did video interviews using the Facebook Live feature, which the algorithm pushes out more than standard video uploads.
In addition, we monitored which videos were getting the highest engagement and then made the strategic decision to run ad campaigns using those videos to push further into the community. With that approach, we were able to reach every single resident in the community with an active Facebook account at least twice over.
We also knew that most journalists are on social media these days, so we made sure to target journalists in our area, which is what alerted them to the story and got us featured on Fox News as well as other local outlets.
Now we all know that nobody takes action after seeing an ad only 1 time. For this reason, we created retargeting audiences off of those who watched a high percentage of the videos. This way we knew we were focusing our ad spend on those residents who were most interested. So they got regular reminders and encouragement to sign up for the event on Facebook and even got special messages sent to them from the Assistant Chief of Police asking them to attend.
This retargeting, whether off of website visits, video views, or page engagement, is one of the most powerful features of Facebook. When used right, it greatly lowers costs while increasing conversion objectives, whether that’s admissions, event attendance, donations, or whatever other action you’re asking people to take.
One other thing we did was get the involvement of all relevant community organizations to have an information booth at the event. This way, all the residents who attended would be able to learn about various services available in their own community.
In addition, we regularly communicated with these organizations to make sure they were sending out info to their email lists as well as liking and sharing our Facebook posts. This high level of collaboration was a big key to our success.
And we didn’t just involve those related to addiction and law enforcement. We also invited in local churches, restaurants, and kid’s vendors. This made the event both informative and fun for all attendees.
With these kinds of events, you never know who’s going to finally show up, if anyone. The normal attendance level for a first time event in Hendricks County is less than 50 people. Plus, just our luck, we had an unseasonable snow storm hit the day of the event. Suffice it to say, we were all a bit nervous about attendance.
But it turns out that we didn’t need to be. People started coming in right away at the start of the event at 6pm, and we ended up having over 300 people attend. Had it been good weather, it would likely have been 100 to 200 more and we may not have had enough food, so it all worked out.
Event prep was nothing special. Volunteers had been pre-arranged to help with setup as well as food delivery. Signs were put up at the entrances with a big thank you to sponsors, and a large donation box was set up prominently near the entrance. As usual with an event, there were a couple snags like the bouncy house having a hole in it, so it was good everyone got there early to find a fix for the problem.
Other than that, things went off without a hitch.
Reflection and Plans for Next Year
For a first time event, it was a rousing success. The elements that made it a success were those discussed above:
- Involvement of community leaders
- Choice of an important and relevant topic
- Use of the right medium – in this case, Facebook Live Video & Ads
- Clear planning and preparation
We also made sure to document everything to keep on file for next year. While we didn’t have to spend much money to get the word out, obviously a large commitment of time was needed to do the interviews, run the ad campaigns, get volunteers, and run the event. But it was definitely worth it.
And, with events like these, they always start small and grow. So if we turn it into an annual event, we can expect to see more participation, more donations, and more overall awareness.
This event is just one example of ones that we help our clients do in their own communities, be they Open Houses, CEU events, Lunch & Learns, or larger community involvement projects like this one. If you’re looking for an expert team to help you get involved and make an impact, get in touch with us using the form below.