Last week, I attended the Catalyst Conference near my home in Atlanta, GA. If you’ve never been to Catalyst, the best description I’ve heard is “The Cirque-du-Soleil of Chrisitianity.” The event is glitzy, bombastic, and attracts a ton of people. The Gwinnett Arena, which seats over 10,000 people, was packed out. The event featured a bunch of polished speakers projected onto huge video screens, along with an amusement ride at the entrance, loud bands playing inside and out, and tons of booths displaying and selling all kinds of religious products and services. Just like Cirque du Soleil, when you view the event from the outside looking in, it seems a little strange…but I digress.
My reason for mentioning Catalyst is to share a marketing lesson. After buying my ticket, I received a welcome packet with a 100-page program plastered full of ads and a bag stuffed with promotional postcards. In the coliseum hallways, I walked past dozens of booths advertising all kinds of stuff. In the midst of this marketing madness, two important details were routinely missing. Detail #1: There was almost no advertising that answered the consumer’s ultimate question, “What’s in it for me?” Detail #2: I rarely saw anyone giving out free resources that enabled you to spread word of mouth. When you’ve got 10,000 people milling around, that’s an incredibly wasted promotional opportunity.
The rare exception was the booth for financial expert, Dave Ramsey, who gave out entire free books along with a duffel bag to carry all the useless stuff the other booths were handing out. Yet, that’s an expensive strategy. Most organizations seemed content to display boring advertisements. Others tried to entice you with scanning an unexciting QR code that led to a boring advertisement. With all the pomp and circumstance in the arena, there was little marketing substance.
When you market to a large group of people in a short period of time, don’t blow it with dull ads and run-of-the-mill sample chapters. Instead, focus on telling people what’s in it for them. Spell out the tangible results that your product or service can create. Then, give people a free tool that they can easily share with a friend, such as a helpful article, quiz, viral video, or even a smartphone app. I go into deep detail about these techniques in Chapters 1, 4, and 11 of my new book.
Speaking of smartphone apps, the only cool free resource that I got at Catalyst was the Dan Deacon app. Watch this video that I took to show what happens when everyone in the building uses the app with their smartphones at the same time. That’s what I call an effective way to create word of mouth!