At the beginning of the year I had a very interesting dinner conversation with a friend and local business owner. He had previously owned a very popular sports themed restaurant. Our dinner conversation revolved around various promotions that he would dream up to get people into his restaurant and bar. Some of the promotion ideas would be considered too ridiculous by most people. The irony was that the more outrageous the promotion idea, the better it worked. To clarify, when I say ridiculous ideas I don’t mean offensive anyone. I mean ridiculous in the sense that most people wouldn't thinking of doing something like that in a million years. We humans have a nasty habit of not doing things because we've thoroughly convinced ourselves that an idea will never work. There is a fine line between gut instinct on something and self deprecating deception. How many times have you thought to yourself "I can't do that because it isn't going to work"? Yet, when you actually do "it" none of the bad things that you thought were going to happen actually occur. That same mentality prevents most event organizers from hitting a home run on their events.
The ridiculous promotions my business friend shared with me were actually pretty entertaining. But more importantly the promotion ideas worked to bring people in the door and keep them thoroughly entertained. In classic P.T. Barnum style the hype matched the value of the experience. Some of the promotion ideas included holding events like live crab races. The crabs would race down a track to the encouragement and cheers of the onlooking crowd. The owner said he never laughed so hard in all his life and many of his patrons on that night share the same sentiment. Other events included things like indoor horse shoes with unlikely world champion horseshoe throwers and knee volleyball. I'd go on, but you probably wouldn't believe me.
The Bikini Contest
My friend decided to hold a bikini contest. Yeah, I know, real original idea. Yet, for whatever reason they promoted it as a big deal. Two very beautiful sisters entered the bikini contest. One of the sisters won the contest. Ironically the sister who placed second went on to become Playboy Playmate of the Year. Perhaps only the guys could appreciate that one, so I apologize if I offended any women. The contest filled the restaurant to the point where the fire marshal was almost called in. You can still take seemingly ordinary events and take them to the next level with a little imagination.
The bottom line is this . . . If you have a really out of the box “ridiculous” promotion idea consider running with it. Most people say to themselves “oh, I can’t do that (insert excuse here)." The lesson my friend shared with me was this, some of the promotion ideas he considered least likely to succeed were by far his biggest winners. Are you holding yourself back on a great idea?
Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:
- P.T. Barnum on Advertising
- Online Marketing Like P.T. Barnum (Part I)
- Online Marketing Like P.T. Barnum (Part II)
- Why Well Planned Events Fail
- How to Get Them To Your Event
- Getting Them to Buy Tickets Early
- Turn Your Event Into an Experience
- The Event Promotion System
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