It’s Wise to Advertise
February 26th, 2019
Years ago, I heard that McDonald’s spent .50 cents on every dollar they made on advertising. Fifty percent of their revenue on advertising?!? That statistic may not be accurate, but clearly, they do invest a lot of money on advertising. Honestly it makes sense, after all someone in America has no idea that a Big Mac contains two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. Granted I have no idea, other than a newborn, who that person is but they must exist otherwise why would they spend so much money to repeatedly get their name out there?
Actually, that is a rhetorical question. McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Subway and so on are in a very competitive market space. Fast food is a multi-billion-dollar industry that serves millions of people every day. Along with the money and who they serve, many of these companies are publicly traded and have shareholders to answer to. Fear not, this is not a blog about corporate America, it’s a blog about advertising. So why do these companies really need to advertise? It is because they are in a competitive environment and people have choices to make and they want people to choose them.
We are a company that provides entertainment, speakers and full-service event planning to a wide range of clients in the corporate world, colleges, high schools, private parties and non-profit organizations. This topic has become front and center for us because many of our clients have adopted the Field of Dreams attitude; “If you build it, they will come.” In other words, lots of our clients believe that if they provide an event, people will simply show up. Twenty or thirty years ago they may have been right, but that is no longer the case. People have more options for social interaction than ever before. Many of those are available without ever leaving the comfort of your home or room. You are now competing for attention with a ridiculous amount of other distractions, virtual and otherwise.
Many companies put on holiday or employee appreciation events and advertise by sending out one very basic email or slapping a poster or two up in the company café. That is no longer enough. In addition to those standard techniques, today you need to add additional components. For example, put a TV monitor up in a public place with employees talking about what a great time they had at this event last year or other company-sponsored events. There is nothing wrong with the personal touch either, it doesn’t hurt to make phone calls or send personalized emails to co-workers inviting them to the events. People want to feel special and wanted.
College and university campuses are no different; some would even argue that they are actually worse. They understand the technology as well as a myriad of social networking platforms, yet often their marketing is a flyer on an overcrowded bulletin board that no one reads. On campus there are so many high traffic areas that could be utilized for promotional engagement that are never used. Academic buildings, dining halls, sidewalks, parking lots and bathroom stalls are perfect places for giant posters, painted sheets, sidewalk chalk and video monitors, just to name a few things that could be used. These areas are also available to corporations and high schools as well.
Often with the high school post-grad and post-prom parties, parents want to keep the theme or special features a secret from potential attendees, so they are reluctant to give out details. That is understandable, but in some communities, the raw number of students as well as the percentage of available class members who attend is dropping. Once again there is competition for these events including private house parties and hotel or hospitality suites. There are many creative ways to advertise without giving away the theme. As a matter of fact, keeping things shrouded in mystery is itself a hook. Perhaps putting up a poster or posters with previous years themes and then the current year with a giant question mark will spark curiosity as well as generate conversations. There are so many ways that high school students can be engaged, it just takes a little time, planning and effort.
People spend countless hours planning incredible events, but far too often the attendance is less than expected and that is a shame. It does require additional time to increase your marketing, but it is clearly worth it. Advertising is also a great way to get additional people involved. Perhaps there is a friend, classmate or colleague that has a love of design work, graphics or promotions and marketing, but may not love the planning or onsite volunteering components. This is a great way to get them on your team. If you have a great idea on how to advertise events or you need some help promoting your events please contact me at 781/436-3187 or [email protected].
About the author:
Ken Abrahams is a 30 plus-year professional in the entertainment industry. He has worked in the music side of the business, booked speakers and worked with novelty/variety entertainment as well. Over the years, he has seen a wide range of publicity and marketing tactics and is glad to share them with you. One of the things he loves about the business is hearing new and different ideas. He would love to hear from you.