More Meaningful Marketing, Part 10

Last topic in this series: Event Marketing.

This is a type of marketing that can be very productive if it is planned in advance and thoroughly followed through to final execution.

I remember working at Woodard Chevrolet and the general manager planned a Corvette show. He invited various Corvette Clubs to sanction an event at the dealership and he put together a number of other draws. The most expensive and best of them was the Darth Vader Corvette. It was quite an elaborate display and a stunning show car and people came from miles around to see it because the event was well advertised and well planned. There was also food vendors, a square dance club, live music, trophies for the corvette show and many more touches that made the event spectacular. It was a huge success. This was in 1983 and it coincided with the announcement of the long awaited totally redesigned 1984 Corvette.

The entire 2 acre front lot was cleared for the event and from the freeway it was quite a site. It was the first event of that magnitude that I have witnessed at a dealership. With the volume of people and activities, it was extremely difficult to try and do any business, but we sold a few anyway and several more the next few days from the event.

Ever since that time, the event became an annual event, but it never reached the level of participation and excitement as the very first one. I'm clear on what the difference was: the man who planned the event. It was the only one that he planned. He was a master at planning this kind of event and knowing what to add to it to increase the draw. All of the Corvette Shows we had until I left in 1997 were a shadow of the first because they weren't planned with any real expertise, interest or budget. There were always things missing or not enough of this or that--and always not enough of the public coming to the event which is the most important ingredient.

I've seen and participated in a number of events over the years and the planning of the event is critical to the success of it. The most important question to ask your planning staff is this: Why are people going to interrupt their busy lives to come to this event? In other words, what is the draw? Is it hot dogs and Coke? Is it the fact that you've invited all of your suppliers to come and be there? Is it your inventory on display? Free food is cool, but a lot of people won't walk across the street for a free hot dog and Coke. I'm guessing that nobody really cares about your inventory, or your suppliers. It needs to be way better. Keep asking the questions until you find the answer that is sure to bring them in.

I know this from my experience as well--event marketing can be a huge benefit from immediate and after event sales and even more is the public awareness and having a lot of people come into your store that have never been on the lot before. One of the reasons that you run ads in the paper is to make immediate sales, but the other is to have name recognition. The event has a thousand times the name recognition that an ad would have. Make sure that everyone that comes in takes some coupons, or information about your store away with them. It is a huge marketing opportunity.

I've described one event done in one way. There are untold opportunities to do events, whether they are on your lot or somewhere else. You can also tie into other events like County Fairs. Getting you, your products, your services, your messages into public awareness is the goal and there are hundreds of ways to do that effectively. Try some.

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