I recently attended Silverton’s own Canterbury Renaissance Faire, watched the jousting and enjoyed the merriment. It was great fun, and for anyone in the Salem area, I would highly recommend attending it next year.
As is my personal tendency, I couldn’t help but think about marketing the whole time. The original Adam Smith concept of market analysis was based on an open-air market similar in many ways to the cottage-industry capitalism of a Renaissance Faire.
Marketing done well
The Faire’s management does an excellent job, I thought. They managed to put the word out through multiple channels in a way that reached my family well in advance, and repeatedly, up to the time of the event itself. Suspense was built, and with it an interest in the event and an active desire to attend. Then at the gate, someone asked us how we heard about the event, which shows that the organizers are measuring the effectiveness of their own marketing activities: a very wise step.
One booth gave away free popcorn to passing children. I thought at the time that this was excellent marketing, although on reflection it did not induce us to buy anything there. The free gift engendered goodwill. It was not sufficiently tied to the actual product offering to motivate purchasing behavior for my family; but it may have worked well with some others.
One booth in particular sold leather goods products of high quality. One of the best ways to win customer loyalty is to pay attention to details in design, workmanship, and presentation. The products at this particular booth were produced to exacting standards, and nicely displayed as well. I was so impressed that I tried to convince the proprietors that they should carry a friend’s line of similarly handcrafted goods on a consignment basis; and they were so concerned about the quality of their products that they had serious reservations about my proposal. They were wise in this, for I had no immediate evidence to back up my claim that my friend is a skilled leather worker. But in the course of the conversation, the proprietor gave me her business card; and this is perhaps my favorite detail of all, because the “business card” isn’t a card at all: the company’s logo and contact information are branded onto a leather fob on a key ring. Nobody is going to throw away a business card like that. As evidence, you can see that that I still have it, and because I have it, I was able to link to the company’s website above. (On a side note, if the website owners ever had any questions about website design, I’d be glad to offer them some advice.) This type of specific idea is not necessarily suitable for every company: each “card” would be quite expensive, and only the dedicated few customers would carry it for long; but creative and unusual ideas like this are certainly a nice touch if it’s appropriate to your business, and goes a long way to differentiating your company and making it memorable.
Marketing that could improve
The above stories were examples of good practices to follow. This next one is a cautionary tale.
Like most consumers, I am most strongly impressed by negative experiences. The interaction that made the deepest and most lasting impression on me was at a food stall. It was more than adequately staffed, but their production system seemed to have serious organizational flaws. As I waited a long time in the hot sun for my order, I watched the staff repeatedly hand food to the wrong customers. This made some other customers wait an extraordinarily long time. The wait was so long that several people asked for their money back. The stall also ran out of an essential ingredient before the lunch rush had even peaked yet, necessitating still more refunds. When my own order finally came up, the person delivering it to the line of impatient customers would have again given it to the wrong person if I hadn’t practically snatched it like a thief. At the back of the food court, people were warning each other about this particular booth.
All of this made me think, there is more to marketing and branding than a logo and some signage. Your reputation is part of your brand. If you can’t actually deliver the product that you’re selling, then your business will soon run into serious problems. Business planning is essential to marketing. If your business is issuing refunds due to service failures, it may be time to analyze your operations. Resolving the issues that lead to customer complaints could have a much more substantial and long-term impact on your business success than any amount of advertising or website design.
And with these thoughts in mind, it’s time for me to go write a project proposal and offer somebody an innovative solution. Until next time, best of luck with your marketing!