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« Get A Free Event Marketing Education | Main | P.T. Barnum's Tenets of Super Effective Marketing (Part II) »

P.T. Barnum's Tenets of Super Effective Marketing (Part I)

Another one of my favorite historical business heroes is P.T. Barnum.  He was the greatest marketer on Earth during his lifetime. Like Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum would be an Internet "Rock Star" if he lived today.The advice below has been proven and tested over the last 150+ years. Technology has changed, but the fundamentals remain the same!

In Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's Book, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, he describes many of the techniques Barnum used to become the world's "King of Marketing."  Most of what Barnum learned about business and marketing happened, before he started his circus.  If you're an event promoter or event organizer, you're going to want to pay careful attention to Barnum's tenants. He achieved all this in a time without radio, television, or the Internet.

In Vitale's book, he outlines Barnum's "Rings of Power".  These "Rings" were the keys to Barnum's amazing business success.   These keys can be slightly reinterpreted and applied to most businesses and events.  Hopefully some of the suggestions below spark an idea or two.

P.T. Barnum's First Five "Rings of Power"

  • "He believed there was a customer born every minute."
    One of the largest misconceptions is that P.T. Barnum said "there is a sucker born every minute."  He never said that - you won't find it in any of his books, writings, or speeches.  Barnum virtuously believed that the world was his marketplace.

    Vitale points out that Barnum considered anyone with .25 cents in their pocket a potential customer.  Each day that goes by more and more people go online. You need to think well beyond your local market. If you are online your market is worldwide.  Use that massive audience to your advantage.  At the same time, don't be afraid to narrow down your target market. Less can actually be more.

  • "He believed in using skyrockets."
    People described Barnum as a master of public relations.  Barnum would push the limit to get huge public and media attention.  Pushing the limit often involved publicity stunts . . . Both P.T. Barnum and Thomas Edison used elephants to attract media attention.  In Edison's case, he executed Topsy the elephant.  Both men received an amazing amount of media attention because of their antics.  I don't condone their actions (Edison's animal cruelty), but there is something to be learned. Ultimately the public attention trickled down to the masses and created an amazing buzz.

    Is there something you can do to stand out from the crowd?  With every business trying to get consumer attention you need to be different. Try to be passively unique. Think of what will help you move to your audience's center of attention

  • "He believed in giving people more than their money's worth."
    Barnum traveled to the ends of Earth in order to find what fascinated people.  He would bring the most unique entertainment and awe inspiring artifacts to his audience. Regardless of what he thought was fascinating - his focus was always on his customer.

    The same analogy can be painted in regards to your event or web site.  When someone shows up to your site are you presenting them with high quality content? Few people are disappointed when your web site delivers what you promise. The same analogy applies to events - are you giving your patrons WHAT THEY WANT? (Not what you think they want - there's a HUGE difference.)

  • He fearlessly believed in the power of "printer's ink."
    Barnum knew how to get the most out of the media. Because of his ability to provide interesting and unique stories the media became Barnum's prized resource.

    Provide the public with unique stories on your web site.  Perhaps you can tell a compelling or powerful story to sell your product, service, or event. Are you getting the most out of your public relations campaign?  Regardless of how good the message . . . If nobody knows that you exist or why they should care - you'll never be noticed.

  • "He believed in persistent advertising."
    His use of free and paid advertising ensured that his marketing message was delivered around the world.

    You need to actively get your message out to the public. Harness the power of free advertising: high quality back links. In today's world you can use SEO and PPC campaigns to help get your message out.  Don't forget that positive word of mouth is still one of the best free forms of advertising. There are so many channels to get your message out today - don't leave any stones unturned.

Source: Vitale, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, pp.11-16.

Throughout his life Barnum keep to his systematic methodology.  This proved immensely successful. Anyone promoting their event or a business should carefully study P.T. Barnum.

Learn about Barnum's Next Five Rings of Power.

Have you ever considered including some of P.T. Barnum’s concepts into your own event marketing and promotion?

Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event.

Take the time to read through a few posts.




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