Marketing matters, but it's not easy. If it were, then businesses would “all make huge profits quickly and retire early,” says Steve Kohn, president of Miller's Rentals and Sales in Edison, N.J. Here, Special Events Magazine highlights two completely different approaches to gaining momentum through marketing know-how.
HIGH-TECH AND GREEN-GOING
THE WONDERFUL WORLD WIDE WEB Few marketing mediums reach as far as the Web. In turn, Miller's has put a large amount of money once allocated to Yellow Pages advertising toward Web-based advertising, such as Google AdWords (see sidebar on page 69 for more information). “We made a conscious decision that the clients we want to attract are those that use the Web to find resources for their events,” Kohn notes.
Google AdWords drives Web surfers to Miller's site, the perfect place for showcasing the company's breadth. “Brochures, flyers, e-mails and coupons are all great ways to market, but the old adage that carries the most precedent is ‘show us what you got,’” Kohn says. He does this by posting press coverage and pictures from Miller's standout events on its Web site.
In fact, the Web site grew so much that it outgrew management's ability to run it in-house. “We got to the point that we realized the potent marketing opportunities our Web site could produce if taken to the next level,” Kohn notes. “For this reason, we have hired professionals.” In January, Miller's brought in Web experts to take over the site and rebuild it from the ground up, with a debut set for mid-April. It was a big step for a company that prefers to keep marketing in-house. “This was not an easy decision, but you have to weigh the cost versus the perceived return value,” Kohn explains.
SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING OLD While the Web can work wonders for a marketing campaign, Miller's hasn't forgotten tried-and-true techniques. Printed sales kits are still a go-to marketing method. In fact, Miller's customizes the kits based on the potential client, going so far as to include linen samples and 8-by-10-inch photographs of products on occasion. Cross-advertising is also a big focus. “If our key caterers or other event professionals are creating advertising materials that will be distributed to key markets, we will try to jump onboard,” Kohn says. Or if Miller's participates in a charity walk or auction, the company will make sure its name is included on the event's T-shirts, flyers or giveaways.
In addition, Miller's likes to send out unique branded holiday gifts to preferred vendors and top clients. A staff brainstorming session last year came up with a Miller's-branded environmentally friendly bag, perfect for grocery shopping. “It became a total staff project, from researching the materials to ordering the items to stuffing the bags to getting the mailing toge-ther,” Kohn says.
A CATALOG COPS ATTITUDE
THE GLAMOROUS LIFE Tents just got a heavy hit of sexy with Torrance, Calif.-based Anza Event Rentals/Tent Design's new catalog. The tongue-in-cheek catalog features tents and, more surprisingly, models dressed in colorful, edgy outfits. Anza's goal is to turn the tenting industry on its head by making events “more fashionable, more colorful, more innovative and more ‘customize-able,’ if that's even a word,” says national sales director Soomin Kim. He adds, “We want to be as progressive and ever-changing as fashion is. Hence, our communication through the glamorous world of high fashion.”
DIFFERENT IS AS DIFFERENT DOES But the company hasn't always been so fashion-forward. Kim says, “Prior to last year, I would say there really was not a marketing technique.” The new attitude toward marketing came when Choura Venue Services purchased Anza in 2007, infusing the company with a marketing sensibil-ity developed outside the event segment. The new team determined it didn't want to turn out catalogs that “communicate the exact same thing with almost identical layouts,” Kim says.
And while the success of the new marketing methods can't be translated into statistics until spring, Kim feels Anza is on to something. “The more you differentiate, the less you have to fight for the same slice of pie,” he notes.
L.A. STORY Of course, Anza's location right outside Los Angeles certainly helps the company up the glamour ante for its unusual catalog. The company has a talented art director and photographer on staff, sparing it from outsourcing a project that could have cost several thousand dollars in design fees alone, according to Kim. Still, the shoot for the catalog demanded the services of six models, two hairstylists, a makeup artist, a wardrobe specialist and several assistants. And rather than using a modeling agency — a budget-busting prospect — Anza's L.A. connections provided all the beauties needed. Staff photographer Mike Stonis tapped models he had worked with previously as a fashion photographer.
The result is a campaign people react to, one way or the other. “Whether they love it or hate it, I think people respect it,” Kim says. The response has been “a lot of raised eyebrows and smiles,” he adds. “I hear the word ‘bold’ a lot.”
Anza Event Rentals/Tent Design
Miller's Rentals and Sales
ADDING AD-SENSE THROUGH ADWORDS
Ever notice the “sponsored links” that pop up when you Google a word? That's Google AdWords at work. The program allows those subscribing to the service to set a daily budget with no minimum — $5, for example. Here, Steve Kohn gives his rundown on how AdWords works.
Special Events Magazine: Describe Google AdWords.
Steve Kohn: AdWords is a unique way of advertising based on key words you select [according to] how you feel clients identify your products and services on the Web. You pay [Google] for these words based on how the search engine ranks them in importance. Obviously key words and phrases such as “party rental,” “tents renting,” “tables renting,” and “chairs renting” are more valuable than less-often-used search terms. By learning and experimenting with these words and phrases, you can pinpoint how clients find you on the Web. The more key words you use, the more your campaign will cost you. With Google you will actually see reports that show what is called a “click-through rate.” This report clearly shows what key words clients used to identify your services and products.
Special Events: What response have you received from AdWords?
Kohn: We have several Google AdWords campaigns. I was very curious to how effective they actually were, [so] we rotated them at scheduled intervals. We targeted the campaigns to specific product groups. What we noticed is when certain groups were taken out of the rotation, we experienced drops in revenue of those specific products. When they were put back in the mix, the revenue increased. The point is, it worked. Marketing with AdWords doesn't require a degree in rocket science, just some trial-and-error and creative slogans with key words.
Special Events: Can you provide a specific example?
Kohn: One of our niches is selling and renting crowd-control equipment. When we ran our Google campaign geared at this, sales went up. When we paused the campaign for three months, sales went down approximately 15 percent. Ad continues … you guessed it: sales back up.