St. Paddy’s Day is a big deal in my house. Not because we’re all a bunch of lushes (well maybe). But because my husband is a manager of a prominent Seattle Irish pub, Fadó Irish Pub. So we don’t see much of him as he runs around getting ready for the Irish festivities to kick into high gear.

I’m always amazed at how people will line up and wait for two hours on March 17th to go into the same pub they could have gone into the day before and actually had a place to sit and enjoy a conversation.

And then, after I drink a Guinness, I think “how can I make this lining up phenomenon happen for my company”? Here are some ideas.

1. Piggy-back on another event – My good friend, Phil Iaccarino, marketing director at ISCS, a software company providing policy administration tools for insurance carriers, shared with me how his company creates a buzz. Once a year at the annual IASA (Insurance Accounting & Systems Association) conference ISCS hosts a bash of a party. It’s the party of the year, featuring artists like The Pointer Sisters, LeAnn Rimes and last year, Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band. They host 500-800 insurance ragers and they literally line up to get in. It’s a big expense for a smaller company. Why do it? Phil says three reasons:

  • This event is their perfect target market. Doing it anywhere else wouldn’t be worth it, but here? Absolutely.
  • Notoriety – do you want to be one tradeshow booth in the haystack exhibit hall? Or do you want to be the ones people will be talking about months afterward?
  • The annual party creates lasting memories and stories for attendees that go on for years. That creates positive association with the brand that also goes on for years. Good deal.

So is it worth the significant money put in? In short, yes says Phil.

“When you’re strategic and you have the right audience, in the right place, don’t just dip your toe in the water. Cannonball!”

2. Create your own event – One of my favorite campaigns of all time was the Starbucks Love Project. The key event of this project was a coordinated round-the-world singalong of the Beatles hit All You Need is Love. Talk about getting your brand out there worldwide, supporting a great cause and creating a buzz. Watch the video:

While a endeavor of this size may be out of your scope and budget (uh, most of us), think about where your market is and what you could do to create a feel-good event they would want to participate in and walk away feeling warm and fuzzy. Maybe invite your local clients to a charity event or Habitat for Humanity building day. Fun and rewarding.

3. Create a competition – One time-tested way to bring folks into your world is a contest. Create an award for your target market and invite people to apply for it. People love to compete and get awards. What better way to promote your brand than to get people recognized as the best, using your tool or service?

A great example of this is the annual CrossFit Games, for which this year’s preliminary rounds just kicked off in the past few weeks. In recent years CrossFit has grown from being a fad exercise program to a featured sporting event on ESPN. By creating the title of “Fittest Man/Woman on Earth,” they both promoted their brand and created a whole new category. Well done.

Big or small, creating an event with buzz is all about getting the right people there. Be strategic, have some fun and be memorable and people will line up, no green beer required.

Photo by North Charleston via Flickr Commons