When I was in college, I worked at Victoria’s Secret. One of my first lessons in selling lotion was to stand at the cart at the entrance to the store and ask women if they wanted to try the newest lotion as they were walking by. If they said yes, we were to put some lotion on their hand and give them a hand massage as we sold them on the different flavor notes of the lotion and why it was the perfect complement for their skin.
It’s been a long time since I have seen a cart at the entrance to a Victoria’s Secret, but it was a simple yet powerful strategy in effective advertising. As consumers we are exposed to thousands of messages daily. From social media platforms to traditional advertising such as TV, radio and print, unfortunately the messages often become white noise. So why did Victoria’s Secret’s strategy work? First of all, we asked permission. Secondly, as we gave the consumer a hand massage, we had a captive audience to sell our products.
This is why events work. In a high tech society, it gives the consumer high touch. They are allowed to experience every sense as they learn about a new product or service. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in traditional advertising as well as digital advertising, but I believe that consumer events are often overlooked and can be a cost effective medium to create band wagon fans – after all, before they like you on Facebook, they need to know you exist. And as you look to large brands longing for their household allegiance, we forget that in order to achieve the trust of households, they made the effort through events to make sure their customers knew that the product existed. Seth Godin would describe this as creating the opportunity for the consumer to have a “brand crush,” which involves both magic and generosity, both of which can be achieved at an event.
So how do you achieve that magic moment through a consumer event? It’s not a one size fits all experience, nor is it as simple as putting out some brochures on a table and doing a drawing for an iPad. You need to pick the right event with the desired demographic you want to reach. Remember that quality is just as important as quantity. Don’t just go with the event that has the most attendees – obviously it is important to be able to expose your product to as many people as possible, but being realistic, not every person that attends will be interested in trying your product, so you want to make sure that those who do are a qualified audience.
Do you know what you are selling? This may seem a strange question to ask but you are not just selling a widget, you are selling a solution to a problem in someone’s life. So it’s not enough to place the widget on a table with a giveaway and expect consumers to know why it’s going to change their life. Likewise, obnoxiously shoving it in their face just means they will walk faster down the aisle. A business has seven seconds to make an impression on the consumer as they are walking down the aisle and it will determine whether or not they choose to stop and experience your product. Figure out your story and a creative way to tell it. And if the giveaway is a must, figure out how you are going to use it. I have seen countless businesses obtain information from thousands of consumers only to never use it which is the equivalent of burning money.
Want to see a great event in action? Mark your calendars now for the 2nd annual Taste of FreeMore which will be held on Saturday, October 5th. It’s a great nod to a neighborhood, FreeMoreWest, building community awareness and comradery through a fun event, while also allowing local businesses to create their own magic. The ducks will be there, we hope you will be too.
Jenn Wallin is a Branding Geek. Writer. ISTJ. Project/Event Management Guru. Connector.
Traveler. Undercover Introvert. Southern Belle. Pop Culture & Stationery Addict. Best of all, she connects us to brand advocates through social media outlets and event planning as a freelance Duck. Clients include Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Southern Shows and more..