Monday, June 17, 2013

How To Become a Marketing BARNACLE

In The Surfer's Guide To Marketing, we discuss different ways to utilize another organization's on-site event, promotion, or activation to drive your brand.   I refer to partnering with a larger exhibit or trade event as becoming a BARNACLE.  Your goal is to drive awareness and interactions for your product or service without disrupting the flow, causing too much attention from the host, or spending significantly more resources than the value you gain in return.

The BARNACLE, those little animals that live on the chin of a large whale, are the perfect surf-analogy example of how you should position yourself to be successful as an addition to an existing organization's activation.  The mollusk's main job is to subtly attach to a larger host and leverage their partner's existing efforts while sucking in plankton and getting a free ride.  They don't cause too much of a distraction and are able to have noticeable gains without expending much effort.  And that mentality directly transfers to the marketing world when creating an on-site partnership.

Having created activations at high traffic locations ranging from trade shows to shopping malls to the Super Bowl, I always approach the opportunity with the same philosophy of becoming a BARNACLE.  I want to ensure my brand gains incrementally more exposure and value than if we did a stand-alone effort and we do not disrupt the host to the point where we draw negative results or controversy.   

On-site activation for a major network premiere.

While some promotions, tours, or locations can have sponsorship packages ranging in the seven figures, most of the BARNACLE activations are established because your brand has smaller budgets with large expectations.   That's where The Surfer's Guide To Marketing becomes a valuable resource as we dedicate an entire chapter to the best approaches and proven techniques in this arena.  We discuss proven cases and provide a how-to for operating and thriving as the marketing version of the little critter on Shamu's face!

And for every successful case study in my book, there are also real-world examples of what guerrilla marketers do wrong  Recently, Ouya tried to crash the E3 video game expo.  Rather than pay to be included in the show, they thought (like many marketers do) that they could circumvent the official relationship by setting up in the surrounding area for less.  Instead of going through the front door, Ouya tried to go through the back door... or more accurately, the parking lot.  E3 wasn't too fond of this type of grass roots activation and the attached link describes the battle that ensued.

As a veteran of on-site marketing, I have been exposed to countless situations surrounding the "right" or "wrong" way to approach it.  The Surfer's Guide To Marketing explains my strategy for being a successful BARNACLE and Ouya definitely didn't approach it the way I would have.  What's your take on how to create a successful activation and what do you think about the article and E3 vs. Ouya battle?  Please leave your comments!

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