Friday, April 22, 2005

You Could Be Wearing this Hat

Mr. Jonathan Ames
It looks like a fun party, doesn't it? 275 people mingling in a bar, B and C list literary celebs with a sprinkling of other media big mouths and bloggers. It actually was a fun party - plenty of free alcohol, transvestites, and even a cute gift bag for all in attendance that included a free copy of Jonathan Ames' Sexual Metamorphosis, Condomania condoms, Izze bottled juice, and cosmetic products from Blue Q and Sharps (I personally love these guys). I had a great time, met lots of new people, and all of those new friends seemed to enjoy themselves as well. What a great thing to build buzz around this new book. Guess how much of our marketing budget was spent in pulling this thing off? It's less than you think.

My colleague who arranged this party did a phenomenal job in organizing it and bringing in co-sponsors. First she found a venue willing to host it, and a media partner to get the word out. The venue was the very stylish Table 50 in lower Manhattan, who had the best martini glasses I've ever seen (not that I drank several martinis or anything of the sort!). And the co-sponsor was Nerve, who designed the invite and provided their party list of important media types. Once those two critical parts were in place, she then approached several liquor sponsors to provide alcohol for the event. She found a company called Triple 8 to supply vodka (which was excellent, again not that I drank a lot of it, I swear!) and Hendrick's to supply gin.

Venue, guests, and drinks secured, my colleague started organizing the gift bag. Obviously the book was to be the featured item in the gift bag, but it was important to leave guests with something more than just the book, while also keeping everything related to it and preferably nothing that competed with anything else. The condoms and the hygiene products were great. We also tried for some sex toys from Toys in Babeland, but they never got back to us (note: they're also not getting a link because they didn't earn one - booo!). The can of Izze, well, that was just to protect against hangovers I guess (not that I have any first-hand knowledge of that!).

The gift bag was a nice touch that made the event just a little more special and a little more memorable for the attendees. It was also a great opportunity for the companies that donated these products to get their name and brand out there. Yes, you heard me right. I said, "donated." In case you were curious, the final cost in terms of marketing dollars that this party cost us was $160. We had to pay the bartenders, and that was it. Everything else - the liquor, the venue, the guest list, the gift bags - was free.

I tell this story with such elaboration because it illustrates a very important point about marketing. The best marketing is not a function of the dollars you spend the effort and inventiveness that you expend in organizing it. You too could arrange an event like this at virtually no financial cost to you. It will take a ton of work, a lot of creative thinking, and some really persuasive pitches, but it can (and does) work.

In my short career in business, I've stumbled upon a very simple, yet practical equation: f(e) = 1/$. The 'e' here is effort, and for those of you without any mathematical inclinations, this equation means that the function of effort is such that as it increases, the amount of money ($) decreases or in marketing terms, spending money becomes less necessary.

I've said this before, and I'll likely say it over and over again until someone slaps me: so many times we choose to throw money at a problem rather than put the effort into solving it (almost always at a much lower cost). This is more than bad marketing - it's a lousy work ethic. Often we do this in the interest of saving time, which I think can have its justification, but those instances should be fewer and further between.

My colleague pulled off a huge party, virtually for free. Creative thinking, organization, and phone calls (and emails). There, that's the secret. Now run with it. And for the record, I only had 3 martinis, I swear.


Blogger Bob Liter said...

I wish I'd been there.
Bob Liter

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