Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Ultimate Trade Show

Marketers instinctively know the power of events to introduce and promote brands.

The 2012 Antique Fair in Paris ranks among the world's most high end events.

Held in the Grande Palais, exhibitors such as Cartier and Bulgari have transformed this iconic Parisian building into a temple for luxury lines.

High end fashion mix with exquisite jewelry - and that's just what the visitors are wearing. On display are precious stones, antique objects d'art and paintings by famous artists.

The event planning and attention to detail are meticulous. The exhibition area is covered by designer carpet and display stands are architectural pieces in their own right.

The Paris show ranks as one if the world's great events where luxury brands meet the international jet set. But the principles of good planning, clever layout and stylish presentation could apply anywhere.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ironing Pants And Human Rights

You meet a lot of people while ironing pants.

On a recent visit to Geneva I was pressing clothes in a hotel ironing room and sharing iron boards - so to speak - with Hussien from Bahrain.

Hussien was in Geneva as part of a delegation to address the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He passionately outlined his hopes for more democracy and personal liberties in the Gulf States.

Rights we take for granted in the West, including the right to communicate about anything anytime, are not always available in other parts of the world.

I wished Hussein well for his presentation to the world body. And reflected that his presentation would be far more important than any I have ever made in my career.

Sometimes we all need wake up calls to remind us what's really important in life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Marketing Lessons From A Shopping Trolley

A COSTCO store recently opened in Canberra and already has established a loyal customer following.  Locally COSTCO is reinventing grocery shopping like Macdonalds reinvented fast food and The Body Shop redefined buying soap. 

COSTCO at Canberra Airport resembles a factory more than a traditional retail.   Bulk goods are stacked on industrial pallets and there are no signs to guide shoppers.  A first time visitor can easily get lost navigating the wide, unmarked aisles. COSTCO never advertises and apart from a burst of pre- opening publicity, the store never makes the Canberra media.   In fact the whole COSTCO approach to marketing seems counter intuitive.

Yet while Australian stores watch online sales erode profits, Canbera shoppers head to COSTCO for necessities, lifestyle products and the occasional luxury item. And they gladly pay annual fees to do so.

A recent CNBC TV report investigated COSTCO's global marketing which attracts three million customers each day.  The 28 minute program showed consistency, value and surprise play key roles in COSTCO's success. 

COSTCO routinely delivers prices shoppers are willing to pay.  Enormous attention to detail goes into the selection and testing of products and the chain regualry springs a surprise on the shopper.  While most lines revolve around staples (globally COSTCO's meat sales top $4.5 billion each year and toliet paper is a #1 seller) from time to time high- end watches, jewellery and other exclusive items are also on sale. 

The combination of value, consistency and doing the unexpected invites people to talk about their COSTCO experience with passion and keenly recommend it to others.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if others we routinely deal with, used the same highly effectively marketing mix to generate positive word of mouth. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Don't "Eastwood" Your Next Event

This month is Convention season as both major US political parties select their Presidential candidate for the  November 2012 Election.

Both Democrat and Republican gatherings are traditionally highly orchestrated and tightly run affairs.  So, it was quite the surprise when veteran  actor Clint Eastwood delivered a rambling 12 minute monologue to an empty chair, meant to represent President Obama.

Clint carried out the one-sided conversation with the imaginary leader of the free world (a long lost 60's phrase) that left everyone scratching their head.

It would have only been a few moments into the Eastwood monologue, when folks noticed the Hollywood tough guy was way off script.  The Republican event organizers, stage producers and other hands must have wished the earth would open and just swallow them up - or at least take Clint. The next day audiences of all descriptions- conventioneers and social media and TV audiences - were left wondering what Clint said and who checked what?

Events are a tool of the trade for PR people.  I have organised many in the last 20 years but fortunately never been Eastwooded in such the spectacular way Clint did to the Romney camp.  

I have witnessed the occasional speaker wander so far off their assigned topic, they needed a compass to find their way back to the audience.  And the more senior they are, the greater the potential there is for speakers to ramble and go off course.

If you are organising an event it is always wise to check beforehand: firstly that your scheduled speaker will show up but, more importantly to find out what they plan to say before they say it. So assure yourself the speakers at your next event will complement and not compete with the theme of your gathering.   

It takes diplomacy and persistent to tackle someone senior to find out what their pitch is.   Invariably you have to negotiate through the layers of ever-protective staff who surround VIPs and celebrities. 

But which would you prefer: making sure your speakers will reinforce the theme of your event or stand in the wings watching them Eastwood all your hard work.