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What’s easier? Selling Santa or a SUV?

reluctant santa dog
Creative Commons License photo credit: dickuhne

Yeah, I know. It’s been a quiet week so far.

On and off for the last 9 months, and intensely over the last 2, I’ve been quietly working on the marketing and other aspects of a new community event and related program here in Columbia Falls.

The event is called Brunch with Santa, which is a new annual event held by my Rotary Club.

Yes, you’re right. It’s hardly an original name or event. Google around, there’s 319,000 or so entries for Brunch with Santa and over a million for Breakfast with Santa.  So what.

A blatant rip off

Yep, it’s something I (ahem) borrowed from the Opelousas Cerebral Palsy Clinic’s Breakfast with Santa event (yes, there IS an address behind that link that will let you send them money, don’t be shy as every little bit helps).

Back to our regularly scheduled program…

Last Saturday, our Brunch went into the first stages of liftoff. As of this afternoon, I just about have a little time to exhale for a few. So let’s talk about it.

First, I suppose it might help to explain what this has to do with Business is Personal and making your small business better, stronger and more robust?

Everything, my friends. Every little thing.

That’s why we’re going to talk about it here.

Selling Santa is much easier than selling a SUV

But…he still has to be sold.

Fact is, the process required to promote a community event is no different than the process required to encourage people to buy those 10mpg SUVs sitting on your lot, the snow machines in your showroom, or the bags of kazoos hanging from the slatwall in your party store.

The process required – in this economy, scratch that, in ANY economy – to get people to give cash, food or goods and services for an event is no different than the process that is required to sell them a steak, an oil change or a $2500 mountain bike.

  • You have to get their attention so that you get a chance to get them interested.
  • You have to get them interested in order to get a chance to build a desire within them.
  • You have to build a desire within them in order to get a chance to get them to take action.
  • And you have to make it drop dead easy to take action.

Whether it’s making a cash donation, buying a ticket, donating 150 servings of Mexican food or offering a piece of framed fine art as a donation, if you don’t follow those 4 steps – not much is happening unless you’re incredibly lucky.

Sales don’t happen because of luck.

Sure, luck works sometimes. That “sometimes” thing is the problem. When exactly is “sometimes”? Can you schedule it? Can you afford to wait on luck to work? No, I didn’t think so. Me either.

Execution of the logical, tested process is what gets the job done the rest of the time.

Some might say it becomes even more important that you treat promotion of an event as a regular marketing task when that event is a fundraiser in a community being hammered with layoffs. Those layoffs directly impact not only those families, but every restaurant, service business and retail store in town.

Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t. Are you willing to risk it on a guess?

So what did I have to sell?

I have to sell a bunch of stuff. Santa kinda comes along for the ride, but he’s part of the sales team.

First I have to sell the donors on the idea. Giving cash. Giving food. Giving time. Giving merchandise and services. None of these things happen without transferring enthusiasm about the cause to them.

Second, I have to sell the event to those who might want to attend it. Got all this food and all this stuff, uh oh, I’d better get someone there to consume and buy it.

Third, I have to sell the media on the fact that this event is worth promoting.

Finally, I have to sell the event again in the last 48 hours before it occurs. Advance tickets are great, but not everyone lives under in that kind of schedule. Those living in the now or in “tomorrow morning is long term” mode need reminders, and they need them everywhere.

Again, the mechanics of the process are just like selling a truck, an oil change or an exotic potted plant. The primary difference is that you can stir some emotion a bit more easily with a cause.

That’s where the trap snaps shut. People get lazy and think the cause will magically make everything else happen.

50% of success is just showing up

Someone once said 50% of success is just showing up. Could be, but the other 50% is pretty tightly linked with actually doing something.

Details matter.

Next time, we’ll talk about those details, and more importantly, the reasons that drive them.