If you suspect your mobile marketing vehicle may be as much of an attraction as the events you’re bringing it to there’s good news. When it comes to negotiating with properties and venues there’s sometimes wiggle room at the negotiation table.
But to get the best deal you have to know your value and your options. Execs on both sides of the table give you the inside scoop.
STEP 1. PRESENTING YOUR ASSETS
Start by asking yourself these five questions.
What makes you special? If you’re a blue-chip brand play it up. If you can partner with other well-known brands play that up. Even if those criteria don’t apply consider what else you’ve got up your sleeve. Hewlett-Packard for example has let events know that it will roll out new products during the fair. That adds value to the property and can work nicely as a bargaining chip says Bob Major HP’s event marketing manager.
Educational interactive and hands-on are all big selling points for properties so amp up the hands-on angle. Build-A-Bear Workshop’s mobile vehicle scored points with Chuck O’Connor director-marketing and corporate partnerships for the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City MI because it allowed consumers to make something. “It satisfied the need for an event like mine where we’re looking for activities ” he says. The festival made Build-A-Bear’s exhibit the centerpiece of a newly created family-friendly zone giving the brand placement in a high-traffic location. (The property also benefited because it sold other brands into the exclusive area.)
Who are you targeting? If your target customer is a dead-on match for the event’s target customer work it baby! Convey clearly in your presentation how your event will help draw their target. Give hard numbers: who the audience is who you’re trying to attract how many consumers you have reached at other stops how many you’ll hit at their event and where you’ve been.
And then really sell it. HP sends properties a PowerPoint and a video reel showing how much fun their exhibit is for attendees Major says.
Are you turnkey or a hassle? The resources required to have you at the venue can dictate what wiggle room the property will offer. The easier you are to get on site the more your property might be willing to listen. Shutting down a city street to get you wedged in costs police time. And be honest about what’s involved for your vehicle. You may see your tour through rose-colored glasses but consider that the property might not share your excitement. The Budweiser Clydesdales are beautiful—and a definite draw—but they’re costly to keep on the grounds.
Got media? You’ve got ad buys. Properties need ticket buyers. You do the math.
Where possible leverage your existing media buys in the local market. Tack on mentions for the events you’re visiting and be prepared to show the property the value of the additional exposure. Trade web site exposure and links between the property and the brand web site.
Tout the p.r. exposure you will generate for the event if you have celebrity appearances charity tie-ins and tour schedules and locations printed on marketing materials and the truck’s exterior. During its 2006 Green Truck Tour Windstream Communications donated to 4-H chapters at several stops along its tour and used the local publicity impressions as bargaining points (Agency: Grand Central Marketing New York City).
Can you sell? If you can tempt audiences to buy food and drinks at two locations instead of just one you can double your chances of getting the deal you want. Johnsonville Brats added a grill to its evergreen Johnsonville Big Taste Grill tour and created a second retail location at the Cherry Festival that benefited both the exhibitor and the property. “I have been more open to [negotiating with] really creative mobile marketing rigs that I know will draw people and offer me other ways to make revenue besides just the fee ” O’Connor says.
When Coors Light goes on tour the brand sets up separate areas for VIPs. It’s often a tough sell because of concession regulations but exclusive hangouts and second points of purchase can double on-site exposure to include the parking lot and the main stage area (Agency: Vivid Marketing Smyrna GA).
“The most important component of our location was making sure we were in an area that attracted a lot of foot traffic from adult consumers ” says Chuck Buckingham assistant brand manager for Coors Light. “We tried to focus on venues such as outdoor concerts sporting events and festivals where people spend a lot of time walking around rather than going straight from their car to the event.”
STEP 2. FAIR GAME
Once those issues are answered there are two aspects of your site contract—aside from the price—that might present wiggle room.
Location. If a company can’t come up with the budget for a prime location O’Connor offers second and third positions he can be more flexible on in terms of pricing and length of stay. On the other hand if you’re angling for the primest of real estate properties might consider upgrading your location if your exhibit has attracted a lot of visitors before. Be sure to leverage your track record to vie for a better spot.
Duration. Properties generally don’t like selling space to brands for say three days of an eight-day festival. But they’ll consider it. The tradeoff: To give your vehicle the best position for an easy exit most events will place you at the fringes of the venue.
Windstream leveraged its media buys and charity tie-ins to get flexibility for its event dates. “Our goal was to launch the Windstream brand with a positive one-on-one interaction with our customer base at the local level ” says Valerie Taylor the company’s marketing manager. “We were able to quickly achieve that by electing to stop by local events for a day or so and then moving on to the next location allowing us to connect with the most customers in the most efficient time.”
Another piece of advice: It pays to put on a good show your first time out on the road. “Word gets around ” Major says. “You want [properties] to contact you [instead of the other way around]. If you can say ‘If you want us here’s what we’d propose ’ it gets the ball in your court.”
Not that kind of commando silly. Sometimes the offer just doesn’t work and your best option is to skip the on-site space all together.
In some cases when a venue won’t meet its price runs out of space or offers an undesirable location Miller Brewing instead looks for opportunities to put its mobile marketing vehicle in nontraditional locations outside the grounds.
“We try to extend the real estate outside of properties and go to other areas where we can find the right target ” says Peter Laatz Miller’s manager-sports and entertainment marketing. The right target is not distracted or too focused on getting to the concert or the race Laatz says. Capturing consumers in the right need state say after the concert is the goal for Miller. And if the brewer can’t grab them on the grounds it goes outside.