Back in the 1800’s P.T. Barnum earned his fame and fortune by promoting “P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome. The show eventually merged and became Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, famously promoted as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
People flocked to his circuses, and they became a magnet for “Ladies, Gentlemen, and Children of All Ages!” Barnum was an amazing, legendary promoter making people think these events were bigger than life. Barnum, by dint of his imagination and unflappable ability to hype the mundane, put his stamp on business promotion that is still being used effectively today.
Using events, and turning them into circuses is one way to promote your business but to make your events successful, you should think like Barnum. He didn’t do the same, tired old thing. He made his events outstanding… he brought exotic animals, freaks, acrobats and clowns, even men being shot out of a cannon. Some of these, of course, are frowned upon today but back then they were amazingly popular.
OK, I know you don’t own a circus (though it might appear that way sometimes), but think how you can bring Barnum’s brand of fun to your businesses events?
No matter what type of business you are in, if you “Barnumize” your events you will get folks to flock to your products and services:
- Retailers hold tent sales in the parking lot. Have a fun theme and promote the theme.
- Home Builders have “Parade of Homes”… but this time hire mimes to act out living in them… or even get cardboard cut-outs that stand in the rooms and point out the features and benefits
- French Restaurants celebrate Bastille Day; Chinese Restaurants celebrate Chinese New Year, Mexican Restaurants celebrate Cinco de Mayo. There’s got to be a holiday you can hang your promotion on.
- Investment advisors hold seminars. Why not create a puppet show showing an advisor working with clients and the puppet does the explaining… OK, it’s a little hokey but investment advisors can put an audience to sleep fast.
- Industrial companies have Plant Tours. Why not get staff to sing a welcome song, then mingle with the guests acting as ambassadors.
Barnum knew we are all attracted to exciting events and high drama so I challenge you to imitate old P.T. for a few moments and invent an event for you to attract those flocks. The list of possible events is almost endless for any business, gosh there is Founders Day, The Company Birthday, and Fourth of July if you are stuck for a theme, but I know you can find themes more germane to your market. I also know they can be enormously successful for those who expend the effort to invent and promote using thematic events.