Can you be too successful with your marketing?

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Chris Palermo
Chris Palermo
Chris Palermo takes a shot at the organizers of what should have been extremely successful events. Are the problems he describes ones you would like to experience?

Communications executive Chris Palermo takes a pretty strong swipe in this LinkedIn-published posting against  local event organizing businesses when he asserts they failed to deliver the goods — because, it seems, the events were too successful.

In light of my policy not to identify individual businesses or organizations in a negative light in this blog, I won’t publish specific company or location information here. Since I haven’t been able to reach the event organizers for their side of the story, I encourage you to keep an open mind, and read on a bit for another perspective.

I was super-excited for the event; and super-disappointed when I got there. The venue was far too small, the lines were too long. We were one of the first people there, and 20 minutes after we got there, walking around the venue was difficult.

The vendors seemed ill-prepared for the event; many bringing just enough samples to cover the first hour of the show. Even more shockingly, many of the vendors ran out of product completely. So, with no other reason to be there, they just started packing up, less than halfway through the event.

We had arrived by 10am, and left before 2pm (and only because lines and walking made it take so long to get around). When we left at 2pm, there was a line of — easily — 500 people waiting to get in. And, with vendors packing up already, I don’t know what they would’ve gotten out of attending.

He said, at least in this case, the event organizer engaged in a respectful discussion about its failings on social media.

But there were other events, more recent, that showed even more serious success-related problems.

I didn’t miss a great event.

The reviews were even more troublesome — people demanding money back; people who stood on line (with tickets) for TWO-PLUS hours, before they simply gave up and went home. Vendors running out of food, etc. And, the nay-sayers took to the internet in droves to complain. (There are even larger issues, as there are rumors that the venue is being investigated for hosting an event of this size — the fire marshal was certainly called).

But, you won’t find those comments anywhere. At 5:01pm (one minute after the event concluded), the Facebook page was deleted (with all the comments). Not once did the organizer show up to discuss the event; instead, *poof* the page vanished.

Then, the Facebook events pages (that had been set up by the organizer) started falling — one after another.

Wow, this is strange — but let’s turn the tables a bit. The communication was bad, but the event was so successful that vendors ran out of merchandise long before the day ended — there were line-ups to attend — geeze, I’d dream of that kind of marketing success and I’m sure the participants who paid the fees to the event organizers to sell their wares were more than happy with the results.

Palermo acknowledges this point in his concluding paragraph:

Oh, to be sure, from a marketing perspective, they do a great job (posting about “limited” tickets; and shutting down registration — only to open it again a day or two before the event, to drive up interest. I’m sure, from a financial perspective, the event was hugely successful. But, from a consumer satisfaction perspective (and, from a return customer perspective), these events have been huge failures, and what’s truly sad, is that it was avoidable.

I think most businesses would love to have this kind of problem, which can be fixed a lot more effectively and less expensively than the inverse challenge: Lacking enough customers to make the event successful. Maybe we should learn from the marketing/delivery process here. I certainly will want to check out these festivals/events and see how the marketing success concepts can be replicated in other markets (but if I was running/consulting with these organizers, I would be sure to let the vendors know to be aware of the crowds, and for the crowds, maybe the simple solution would be to offer rainchecks made much more appealing than refunds.)

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