"Everyone is laughing at you behind your back."
That's just a sample of the words I heard as professionals within the fair industry began pushing back against what I had started saying.
My first paid fair gig was in August of 2004 at the Nevada State Fair. In the 13 years since then I listened and observed how the industry was marketing their events. This got particularly interesting with the advent of the iPhone in 2007.
For many years I watched fairs struggle with figuring out how to story tell in a mobile first environment. It's not easy. Keep in mind an entire world of Fortune 100 companies were also struggling to figure this out. Consumer behavior has fundamentally changed over the last decade. It has forced every major brand on Earth to scramble to try and keep up.
Early in 2017 I began sharing the truths I've seen for myself. I've started challenging conventional wisdom in marketing our events. I want to see our industry thrive because I want to know the fair market will be healthy in 10, 15 or 20 years so I have a place to do business.
I'm watering the field I intend to play on for the next two decades.
Validation Beats Criticism.
Last week I attended the annual IAFE Trade Show & Convention in Las Vegas. While I was there I had the chance to visit with, Laura Murek, the event and sponsorship coordinator for the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Maryland.
She shared with me something that filled me with happiness for them. Back in May of this year I shared an idea at the Florida Federation of Fairs & Zone II convention about Snapchat. It involved deploying their geo location filters over high traffic areas around your city as opposed to just using them at your fairground.
Laura shared that they had invested $1,000.00 in creating and deploying Snapchat geofilters at high traffic events in their area such as the annual 4th of July celebration just a few weeks prior to the fair.
Their Snapchat filter campaign generated over 750,000 views. That's just .75 cents per thousand views (CPM). Absolutely massive awareness of their event for pennies on the dollar.
Show me a billboard that does that.
Ideas are crap. Execution is everything.
Now, I take credit for planting the idea. But Laura and the team at Montgomery County should be acknowledged for actually executing on the idea. If I floated that idea and nobody acted on it, then the idea sucks. It takes action to bring an idea to life.
My hope for fairs, and frankly brands in general, is that they begin taking this fundamental shift in consumer communication and behavior seriously. Those that do will have a shot at winning with consumers. Those that don't are incredibly vulnerable.