March 21, 2019

Old Marketing Strategy Still Works

David Watkins

David Watkins
Founder/Team Watkins

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In the 1970s and '80s when I was VP of the Seattle SuperSonics Basketball Team (R.I.P.), one of the most popular promotions for increasing attendance were free giveaways targeting children: mini basketball, ball caps, rally flags, etc.

Moving ahead to the current decade, we have found that timely and fashionable free gifts for kids work magic in building traffic for our mall client. We had tried several promotions for adults: cash drawings, free TVs, trips and more. While they proved to be a good PR vehicle, they did not generate a big increase in traffic.

A few years ago, we began to focus on kids. The hot product at the time (and remains so today) was unicorns. Along with one of our radio station partners we offered music, games, prizes and free unicorn plushies for kids 12 and under (we purchased 150). Our minimal ad budget included a radio buy (on-air ads, station social media presence) we utilized our own social media (Facebook and Instagram), purchased digital media on local family blogs and utlized our mall signage and video. 

One hour prior to the event start, over 150 kids and parents were lined up for the giveaway. It was a big hit.

We then began adding other free similar products at our events: reindeer plushies in December, bunnies at Easter, move action figures (around the opening of that particular film), puppy plushies (in conjunction with a Pet Rescue event) and even more unicorns. At our annual Child Safety Day event, we gave away over 150 free kids' bike helmets. At Halloween, we provide candy our merchants and host a big party.

Attendance for these events range between 500 and 1200, with some in the 1500 range. And, of course, there is the priceless PR value: smiling faces from both kids and adults.

We're delighted that something old is new again.

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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