An Adventure in Marketing

Marketing opportunities are all around us. Some of us see them when we close our eyes and some of us see them when we go on vacation. We let our Graphic Designer leave for a week this Spring, and while we managed to survive, she was making some marketing observations.

“To Overland Expo!” That was I told them. Driving to Arizona and back in a 50-year-old vehicle with a tent perched on a trailer. What sorts of things did I see on the way? Well, of course everywhere there were billboards and storefront signs trying to outdo one-another with something clever or no-nonsense, but I noticed a three key things underneath the surface of my destinations:

icons vs bad punctuation Wayfinding. Ways for people to find your business. A small but practical application of this could be simply having your business address on your business card. A larger way is signage and maps on our way to and at the Overland Expo. People need to quickly get around, and along this route, there were many people from out of the country who needed a universal icon to guide them (think of symbols for showers, camping, eating, hotels etc.).

Help people navigate even once they arrive at your place of business. Once at the event, I took in all the ways that the crowds were directed, and the ways that they weren’t. Aside from trying to find food with my brain and not my nose, there was the only other navigational hiccup: from the roadway, where people were walking in from, there was no indication of needing to navigate farther than the nearest person’s back, thus everyone ended up in one long line rather than the 4 that were open for check-in. Perhaps there could have been a few roadway signs directing people to pick the line pertaining to their intentions. Thankfully, there was a really great guy weaving in and out with a clipboard, helping people get to where they should be. What a trivial thing, but somehow it was very important.

Each destination was keenly tuned (or not) to an ideal customer. From beef jerky on the side of the highway with signs that promised to not be “scary”, to the last gas station/campground on the edge of Death Valley that tossed such hints at would-be drive-bys, businesses were spending time understanding their ideal customer.

A leisurely stroll through the vendor area at Overland Expo revealed who really was in tune. For example: of the two solar companies present, one really stood out. They had a free charging station (with chairs!) for cell phones and other devices with all the hookups ready to go, free water and sunscreen and of course the ever-present bumper stickers of all kinds (overlanders love these. It’s like non-digital Instagram). Most of these items encouraged people to interact with the seller, sit, relax, and take in the promotional signage. This potentially increased view time from 15 seconds to minutes and more.

Ask yourself this: “what needs do my customers have?”, not “what needs do I want my customer to have?”, and the thing you really need from them (let’s face it, it’s money), may come easier.

Turning first-time customers into repeat customers. Not before they give you money, and not because you have to, but because you want to (or at least it looks like you do!). I had only had my feet on the ground for a few minutes and somebody was handing out free chapstick to every participant. The employees had high opinions of the product and stated it was made in their state and had natural ingredients. And it did! It smelled great, wasn’t too greasy and didn’t even melt all over my pocket on the way back home through the Mojave. Of course there are more reasons to come back: free showers, complimentary small food items, and the event itself. I didn’t have to pay for quite every educational opportunity and that was pretty cool, since I spent a lot of money to get there. They also allowed my dog in almost every place on the property, which was quite a relief.

Would I go back? Yes. Next time I would watch some of the documentary films and talk to more of the people who came there from all over the world!

So in summary, help your potential customers find you and navigate once they arrive, get to know your customer and what he or she is in need of and provide the solution, and keep them coming back by offering a little extra interactive experience. Looking for ways to make that happen? We can help! Just give us a call and set up a meeting to talk about your marketing needs.

view overlooking Saline ValleyIf you want to read the trip report without the marketing advice, click here.

Published by

Danielle Apple

Danielle is head of our graphic design department. A self-proclaimed "sponge," she is addicted to learning about marketing and to eating chocolate.